There has been very little written on a topic I’d like to call Radical Talent Management. Hiring and talent management continue to evolve at a much slower pace than other technologies that are critical to business success.

The word “radical” is derived from the Latin “radicalis” which means root, basis, or source. I would bet that most of us think of the word radical not by its first or second dictionary definition (of or relating to a root; growing from the base), but by its third or fourth definition: Marked by a considerable change from the usual or traditional; tending to make extreme changes.

In First Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman told us that one of the things great managers do differently is to define TALENT as “a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied.” The authors go on to differentiate talent from skills or knowledge, and advocate hiring based on talent, and in the book’s appendix, list the 12 Core Questions that correlate with success. My favorite is the first: “I know what is expected of me at


I want to advocate combining these four ideas into a new way of managing talent:

  • Radical talent management must start at the root, which is how we define the job.
  • It must also be about considerable change from the usual and traditional.
  • Employers must define what is expected of each current employee and new hire, in SMART terms (Specific, Measurable, Achievable,
    Relevant and Time-Bound), by producing a business plan with performance
  • Deployment of current people, hiring of new people, performance evaluation – all aspects of talent management – must be done
    by evaluating TALENT in the context of Performance Objectives. Only then
    can talent be productively applied!
Sounds simple? It is hard to believe how FEW companies follow the above four principles. So few, I’m inclined to call the idea Radical Talent Management. Let’s see if it catches on.

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