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Talent Identification

Before talent can be identified it is important for an organisation to define what they mean by talent. This definition is specific to the organisation and it’s requirements.

Should talent management be concerned only with high-potential employees –or others capable of being promoted through the organisation? Or should it support all individuals within an organisation, at whatever level and whatever their potential?”

Once the definition of “talent” has been defined and agreed it is then a matter of identifying where the talent sits in the organisation. This can be ascertained in a variety of ways.

When seeking to identify talent within the organisation an awareness of the different ways an individual may display talent and their potential to improve their performance.


The way that organisations identify talent can be defined in two separate ways:

  • A formal application process possibly including an assessment center, where individuals can be assessed against defined talent criteria.
  • Through performance management systems. The emphasis falls upon the manager assessing an individuals talent against criteria set by the organisations.

Formal Application Process

The formal application process relies upon employees being proactive in their desire to be part of the talent management process. Alternatively line managers could be encouraged to put employees forward for the assessment process.

In both instances organisations should be aware of the exclusive nature of the approach. Employees who possess the required talent criteria my be missed by this approach either because they do not recognise their own talent potential or because their manager does not recognise their talent potential due to the subjective nature of this approach.

These exclusive approaches may have a negative effect on the motivation of those who are not included. It is important not to ignore those who may not be potential future executives but are nonetheless vital to sustained organisational success.

Performance Management Systems

This approach can be implemented alongside the existing performance management system operating within an organisation.

It involves assessing individuals against a defined talent criteria as well the organisational performance criteria.

Recommended practice for this process is to assess the individual against performance and potential. Performance should be assessed in line with the existent performance assessment criteria. Potential criteria and be defined in a number of ways. A suggested criteria is:

  • HIGH - Individual has potential to progress to next work level (& beyond) quickly.
  • MEDIUM - Individual has potential to move to next work level.
  • LOW - Individual shows little or no potential to move to next work level.

This assessment process will designate the individual a “talent marking” with the organisation able to react accordingly.

With either of these talent identification methodologies it is important that the assessment must be made using objective judgements against the criteria, managers must not make subjective judgments influenced by any irrelevant factors EG gender, working hours, race, disability, sexuality etc.


Developing Talent Activities - A group exercise that can be used to help define potential criteria within an organisation.
Example Talent Review Form - An example of a talent review proforma used in documenting individual talent assessment as part of the performance management system.
Example Potential/Performance Matrix - A talent review matrix used by the Ministry of Justice.
Talent Review Guidance - Guidance on how to carry out a talent review meeting.
Talent Matrix Frequently Asked Questions - A frequently asked questions resource used in the Ministry of Justice.
Talent Review Process Guidance - Detailed guidance on implementing a talent review process.

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