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How to deal with differentiation in talent management

05 June 2019, by Lesley Vanleke
  • #Talent management
  • #Talent Review Profiler

In this blog, I want to share some recent scientific insights and best practices concerning talent management. The main insight is that Talent Management is about differentiation, always was, always will be (Nicky Dries, 2018).

By the end of the previous century, organizations have found themselves in a War for Talent, which placed a heavy focus on recruitment. In the last 20 years, organizations have invested in employer branding and candidate experience. Today, the fishing pond is empty and as a consequence, retention and developing the existing talent becomes an essential focal point. Hence, talent management becomes key.

Nicky Dries lists some interesting insights and best practices to secure positive impact of talent management:

  1. Despite more inclusive narratives about talent management, the reality is that talent management is, and always will be, about differentiation. Talent management aims to match key performers/high potentials to key positions in order to secure continuity. Hence, a disproportionate amount of resources will be invested where one expects disproportionate returns. This does not imply that all resources and all HR practices are diverted towards elite performers only. So in reality, “all people are equal but some are more equal than others” (Dries, 2016).
  2. Differentiation should not be a problem, as long as employees experience decisions as righteous and just. You need a clear and transparent procedure along with strong and qualitative process facilitation which secures consistency, disregards office politics, and allows participation of employees and line managers. 
  3. The role of the manager and the relationship between him/her and the talented individual is key. It is best practice to match talented people to mentors they themselves consider talented.
  4. Keep Talents with two feet on the ground. People tend to overestimate their own contributions when things go well and attribute negative experiences to the context. It’s advisable to make a talent attentive to the ‘fit’ with the organization and the support of managers and colleagues as important factors in the process of receiving the ‘talent’ label.

Talent Management is about differentiation. Do you know how to identify talent within your organization? Contact us for more information about the Talent Review Profiler, an evidence-based TalentLogiQs HR Tech tool, for powerful talent management.


Dries, N. et al. (2018). Werknemersreacties op (exclusief) talent Management. Tijdschrift voor HRM, editie3.

Dries, N. (2016). Talent management exclusiveness (vs. inclusiveness) & secrecy (vs. transparency) :
Assumptions vs. evidence. Keynote for HR Lab, 24 mei, 2016.


About the author

Lesley Vanleke

Lesley Vanleke holds over 20 years of experience in HR. In 2014 she co-founded TalentLogiQS, where she searches to understand all different aspects of customers’ challenges and needs. She strives to be a sounding board and bring about connections that deliver added value for all parties concerned.