Skip to main content

Talent matters

How a well-designed talent experience can drive growth in emerging markets

Too often, traditional talent management—no matter how well executed—fails to offer competitive advantage. The key, especially for companies in emerging markets, is creating a talent experience.

Introduction: The talent experience

BUSINESS leaders and talent professionals have long intuitively known that investments in talent management drive business results. Yet while the positive effects of this investment are real, measuring the impact of talent management on business outcomes has proven elusive. Our recent findings illustrate that organisations with higher levels of talent management maturity tend to perform better on critical talent and business outcomes. Importantly, these findings hold true not only for global organisations but also for organisations in major emerging growth markets including India, China and Brazil.

Historical approaches to talent management—which see talent management as a collection of transactions or services (for example, paying people, conducting annual appraisals)—often fail to provide competitive advantage to today’s organisations. To be in a position to reap the benefits that talent management maturity offers, organisations globally and in emerging growth markets should instead view the talent experience as a networked, customisable system with individuals—and their relationship with the organisation—at the centre.

A new high-impact model of talent management

We recently examined the talent practises of a sample of organisations representative of Global 2000 (G2000) organisations1 and developed our Bersin by Deloitte Talent Management Maturity Model2 (see figure 1). We then compared that model to three specific growth markets (India, China and Brazil),3 analysing the business and talent results of organisations in all markets. We found that while the path to mature talent management may differ across markets, it can improve talent and business outcomes for all organisations.

As shown in figure 1, the vast majority of companies in all markets are low in maturity (levels 1 and 2) and are not realising the talent and business advantages of more mature talent management. Companies in these levels are primarily focussed on achieving excellence within individual talent management practises (for example, talent acquisition, performance management, learning and leadership development).

In contrast, high-maturity (levels 3 and 4) talent management organisations have better business and talent outcomes. These organisations tend to view talent as critical to their business-unit and corporate strategies and are intent on building a relationship with and an ecosystem for people to enable them to be successful. Therefore, these organisations do not limit their focus to basic talent management operational excellence. Instead, they build a talent experience that encourages a culture of growth, insight, understanding, engagement and communication.

Practically speaking, this means that high-maturity organisations intentionally design technology systems, processes and practises that all work together to enable employees to have the information, capabilities, behaviours and resources they need, when they need them. Further, these organisations are increasingly developing their capability to “listen at scale” to the feedback of employees, so that they can rapidly customise their approach to workers, the work itself, or the market.

Quantifying the benefits of talent management maturity

As part of our research, we analysed the relationship between talent management maturity and eight metrics4 (figure 2). For each outcome, organisations at higher levels of maturity—levels 3 and 4—are more likely to be in the top quartile of performance than their less mature peers (with two outcomes at equal levels of performance; see chart footnote for more details).

Show more

A three-step approach to increasing talent management maturity

Our data indicate that, in any geography, organisations can improve talent management maturity by focussing on seven areas of talent management, using a three-step approach7 (figure 3). We will first share an overview of this three-step process before diving into how it can be used in each geography (India, China and Brazil).

In each step, we identified the talent practises on which organisations should focus.8 To determine these practises, we analysed the 128 different dimensions in our survey, analysing which drive business and talent outcomes and then used regression and factor analysis to understand the order and grouping of the dimensions. Based on this analysis, seven talent activities showed the strongest correlations with positive business and talent outcomes. We arranged these into the three steps based on each activities’ power to predict outcomes (moving from least to most predictive) and the order in which organisations tend to approach them, based on our interviews. While the resulting three-step approach may seem intuitive, it is powerful in that it clearly delineates the order in which organisations should approach evolving talent management and which activities they should tackle at the same time (for example, leadership and learning) versus separately (performance management).

At a high level, the three-step process (see figure 3) suggests that organisations should first strengthen foundational talent management practises, as these activities enable them to meet their most basic of talent needs: consistently and effectively acquiring, managing and appraising (and thus compensating and retaining) talent. These activities also lay the groundwork for more sophisticated, seamless and customisable practises.

Second, organisations should focus on creating talent strategies,11 which enable them to determine where to invest resources. This is an important focus area, as our research12 indicates that this is the linchpin for moving out of lower maturity levels into higher levels of maturity. By going through the process of setting a talent strategy, HR organisations can create alignment with overall business objectives, prioritise talent management investments and reduce redundant efforts across business units or functions.

Once the foundation is strengthened and a talent strategy is set, organisations should begin to invest in activities that enable the creation of a personalised, networked and seamless talent experience. Based on our model, we have identified three areas below that are typically the most predictive of talent management maturity. That said, given their specific talent strategies, individual organisations may find just one or two areas—or even activities within each area—that they should prioritise.

It is important to clarify what we mean when we refer to the specific activities in the three-step process and why we focus on each of them. In figure 4 (below), we have defined each of these talent practises and their potential impacts on critical talent and business outcomes.

It is critical to note the importance of the last two activities, which are both related to diversity and inclusion (D&I). Our research found that D&I is actually composed of two distinct factors, strategic D&I and embedded D&I, which we found to be the two most predictive factors of high talent management maturity. In practise, it is unlikely that any company would address these two factors independently; however, there are subtle differences worth noting:

  • Strategic D&I deals with policies or practises that can be decided upon and implemented by a limited number of relatively senior or influential individuals (such as aligning the D&I strategy with business outcomes and linking senior leader compensation to the achievement of D&I goals).
  • Embedded D&I refers to how D&I is integrated with activities that influence individual employees’ experience (that is, learning, performance management and succession management). Unfortunately, these D&I factors are also the factors that are least effectively implemented in the G2000 and emerging market organisations. To that end, we generally recommend that organisations make a substantial investment in D&I efforts, regardless of their market.

All of the talent management practises listed in figure 4 touch on activities that are at the heart of employees’ talent experience. This experience should enable employees to see how they can grow with the organisation, provide them with appropriate information to make career decisions, and create an open and inclusive environment in which the organisation hears, respects and values them. These are activities that should not be siloed but should instead blend together seamlessly and can, in many instances, be customised for each employee’s needs.

While all these practises are important for enhancing talent management within the organisation, it is key to remember that the priorities vary by geography, as discussed in the following section.

What to do, where? Specific actions for each emerging growth market

Given the breadth of areas to focus on within talent management, it is important to understand where organisations in specific growth markets excel and where they can get the greatest benefit from investing. Figure 5 provides a high-level comparison of the seven practises of talent management maturity, across G2000 organisations and growth markets.

While there are similarities across markets, it is important to realise that the way these play out in each market may differ. For example, all markets struggle to address diversity and inclusion (even though we found it to be the largest predictor of talent management maturity), resulting in us recommending that all organisations focus on this topic intently. However, the context of D&I varies across markets given their different cultures, which means the approach will also vary.

Figure 6 explores the identified strengths and opportunities for each market. Let’s start with the good news: Perhaps most interestingly, despite well-documented concerns with talent acquisition, our findings consistently indicated this is an area in which companies in growth markets tend to excel. Given talent markets’ competitiveness in these countries, it is unsurprising that companies have had to improve their talent acquisition effectiveness. The challenge—as the following sections examine—is retaining and developing that talent. This is where organisations can especially focus on creating a networked, personalised and seamless talent experience.

Using the three-step approach to help improve maturity in each geography

Growth market: India

India is a market of opportunity, competition and complexity. But despite rapid workforce growth, employees’ technical and leadership skills are often limited, creating an imbalance between labour supply and demand. Many Indian companies and Western-based multinational firms fish in the same talent pool, contributing to rising employee expectations and demands for not only better compensation but an employee experience that enables them to constantly grow and take on new roles with increasingly greater impact. As figure 7 illustrates, India tends to have a higher percentage of organisations at level 2 maturity but is on par with G2000 organisations at level 4.

Indian organisations tend to excel at offering performance management processes, policies and systems that are perceived to be fair and consistent (68 per cent of organisations are effective to a great or moderate extent, compared to 60 per cent in the G2000). This provides Indian organisations with a solid base on which to build.

Many organisations are evolving performance management so managers have more frequent conversations, which can help in personalising the talent experience. However, this shift often comes with less documentation. Organisations doing this in the Indian context may need to supplement this approach by continuing to maintain or even enhance performance processes that emphasise transparency and fairness. Communicating extensively on how compensation and promotions are determined is one way to help improve transparency. Further, these organisations may want to continuously assess employees’ perceptions of fairness via real-time feedback (for example, pulse surveys or anonymous feedback) and then communicate clearly how they are addressing these needs.

Our data indicates that Indian organisations currently tend to have a clear talent strategy (36 per cent of organisations are effective to a great or moderate extent, compared to 24 per cent in the G2000). However, deeper analysis found that strategy is often focussed on foundational talent activities. To reach higher levels of maturity, Indian organisations should create a talent strategy that invests in establishing a greater level of understanding and responsiveness to talent throughout the organisation, paying particular attention to those employees in critical talent segments.

Our analysis found that while most Indian organisations excel at formal skills-based training, they have an opportunity to create an environment in which leader growth and learning is encouraged informally as well. In particular, Indian organisations should invest in blending leadership development with other talent management activities (for example, connecting leadership competencies with the talent acquisition process, integrating D&I concepts into leadership development programmes and linking leader growth opportunities to succession management plans). Further, Indian organisations should take care to create an environment that encourages learning—even if it means failing initially—throughout all levels. To that end, Indian organisations should analyse their incentive systems to determine how to encourage learning. For example, performance appraisals may take into account the type of effort or the amount of learning someone completes, not just whether that person hit her goals.

In addition, our findings reveal that though many Indian organisations do well at establishing a systemic relationship with employees compared to G2000 organisations (55 per cent compared to 37 per cent, respectively), opportunities for improvement likely also exist, especially when it comes to responding to employees.

Finally, our research shows that though Indian organisations reported their D&I activities are more integrated and strategic than in G2000 organisations, there is room for improvement. Specifically, 26 per cent of responding organisations indicated they significantly or seamlessly embed D&I, while 42 per cent reported they strategically address D&I (compared to 17 per cent and 26 per cent of G2000 organisations, respectively). However, a closer look revealed that Indian organisations’ D&I efforts tend to be smaller in scale and focussed primarily on women. This limited focus is different from many G2000 organisations’ wide breadth of D&I initiatives and populations. Indian organisations have an opportunity to continue to invest in their D&I efforts for women while expanding their focus to other populations that are critical to engage and retain to meet their business needs.

Figure 8. Call to action for Indian organisations

Based on our findings, organisations operating in India should consider:

  1. Reinforcing foundational aspects of talent management and begin to plan out how they will move into higher levels of talent management maturity.
  2. Maintaining their focus on consistent and fair performance appraisal and management but beginning to implement more continuous performance feedback that is personalised to each employee and clearly connected to learning and leadership development opportunities.
  3. Creating clear talent strategies that explicitly highlight critical talent needs and how the organisation intends to attract, retain and engage employees in those relevant segments.
  4. Developing a deeper relationship with talent by:
    1. Implementing real-time feedback systems (for example, pulse surveys or recognition systems)
    2. Leveraging blogs and social media and be sure to respond to comments and feedback so that employees know their voices are heard
    3. Launching an integrated career management/talent acquisition system that captures information on employees’ skills and suggests new job opportunities personalised for them
    4. Allowing employees to invest their time in innovation-related projects that provide empowerment and autonomy
  5. Building a culture of leadership and learning by providing development and learning opportunities to key talent segments and efficiently integrating leadership development with other areas of talent management.
  6. Expanding their perspective on diversity beyond gender and implementing D&I policies that are larger in scale and designed to enable employees to bring their whole selves to work. Leveraging employee resource groups to create and support networks of employees that can share innovative insights and ideas and embedding D&I awareness into talent management practises such as talent acquisition, performance management and leadership development should also be considered.
Show more

Citibank India builds a future-ready organisation by creating a talent pipeline

Citigroup is a leading global bank, headquartered in New York, that has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. In the third quarter of 2016, Citi reported net profit of $3.8 billion on revenues of $17.8 billion.13 Citi India, headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, is a subsidiary with more than 10,000 employees.14

In this era of globalisation and an increasingly competitive business environment, Citi realises the importance of building a robust talent pipeline able to continuously innovate. With that purpose in mind, the company developed a holistic approach towards honing its talent pipeline and building leadership capabilities in its employees that focussed on four critical areas:

Focus on campus talent. Citi recognised the need to continuously engage with local campuses to identify and tap high-potential talent through events such as its Innovation Challenge, case-based workshops and course integrations. During the last two decades, Citi India has built a long-term relationship with many of India’s top universities via engagement sessions held throughout the year that involve Citi senior leaders and local alumni.

Focus on networking. Networking and teamwork form an integral part of learning at Citi. All Citi associates go through a regional/global training programme lasting two to six weeks. All networking programmes were designed to build new hires’ awareness of the franchise, products and clients via leader sessions, group learning and simulations.

Focus on management education. Citi leadership stresses the importance of management education to help build management skills, savviness and a holistic perspective of business. The company’s Indian School of Business (ISB) scholarship programme gives high-potential analysts (recent graduates) an opportunity to pursue further studies at an ISB MBA programme. Upon completion of this programme and equipped with a post-graduation degree, these analysts develop readiness to take on more challenging and strategic roles across Citi businesses.

Focus on diversity. Citi’s journey towards building a future-ready organisation gained momentum and direction with the launch of its Citi Woman Leader Award programme, aimed at increasing gender diversity in the management associate programme and building a diverse talent pipeline in the organisation. The focus is on providing career management through formal learning structures in the form of mentoring, training and networking. In addition, Citi’s diversity policies include flex maternity, flex work arrangements, a coaching programme for mothers returning to the workplace and various leadership programmes for emerging female talent. These initiatives have all helped to decrease attrition of female talent as they move through their careers.

Growth market: China

As China shifts its economy from a reliance on low-skilled manufacturing to higher-end services and knowledge-based industries,15 Chinese companies face a critical need to invest in talent management. Despite China’s large population, the demand for talent exceeds supply given a shortage of skills and experience, particularly for mid-level managerial and leadership roles. This shortfall likely results from an ageing population and shrinking workforce, as well as the more recent brain drain to Western companies. As figure 9 illustrates, Chinese organisations tend to be low in talent management maturity and will need substantial investments to effectively address some of their talent challenges.

The most critical focus areas for Chinese organisations are the implementation and communication of fair talent policies and procedures and a focus on improving the quality of performance conversations between managers and employees. Just 34 per cent of Chinese organisations told us they are effective at this to a great or moderate extent, compared to 60 per cent in the G2000.

To help improve perception of fairness, Chinese organisations should increase the transparency of promotion criteria and ensure they are followed when promotion decisions are made. Further, Chinese organisations should equip managers to effectively provide observation-based feedback that is customised and appropriate for each individual. Specific potential activities could include leaders proactively creating an environment in which it is seen as “safe” to give feedback (senior leaders’ communicating about and role modelling the importance of feedback can help) and adjusting the organisation’s incentive systems (for example, compensation, promotion criteria, or social expectations) to reinforce the importance of giving and receiving feedback. Finally, Chinese organisations may want to start by allowing anonymous feedback that is delivered privately, so as to enable employees to give and receive feedback but do so in a way that does not require them to “save face.”16

Chinese organisations are less likely than other emerging markets to have a well-developed talent strategy (19 per cent of organisations are effective to a great or moderate extent, compared to 24 per cent for G2000 organisations and 36 per cent and 34 per cent for India and Brazil, respectively). Therefore, they should create talent strategies that continue to focus on foundational aspects of talent management but also help create relationships with talent, particularly with those in critical segments or groups that have been difficult to attract, retain and engage (for example, women or Millennials).

Chinese organisations in particular may benefit from investing in workforce planning and talent analytics to support the process of setting a talent strategy. Because talent strategies often require an investment in a particular subset of the employee population, which could impact group harmony (a concept highly valued in Chinese culture17), it is important for HR and business leaders to illustrate the reasoning behind these investments. Using data to make strategy decisions may make it easier to explain the underlying logic. In addition, the use of data and analytics may help HR leaders to better understand their organisations’ formal and informal networks and to design strategies and approaches to improve or enhance them.

Our research identified that Chinese organisations should also focus on evolving their culture of learning and leadership, with only 32 per cent of surveyed organisations effective at this (compared to 46 per cent in the global benchmark). Chinese organisations should start by developing the capabilities of front-line and mid-level managers, who are responsible for managing the vast majority of employees. Due to the focus within Chinese culture on collective success,18 this type of development will likely need to be designed to scale broadly across the organisation. Focussing within the culture on the broad need for continuous learning is critical, as this can give managers and direct reports “permission” to have conversations about learning and development and may encourage employees to take an active role in their development.

In addition, Chinese organisations should begin investing in a systemic relationship with talent. Unfortunately, Chinese organisations are generally less effective at this than G2000 organisations, with only 26 per cent of Chinese organisations effective at this (compared to 37 per cent in the global benchmark).

Finally, Chinese organisations should focus on their diversity and inclusion efforts, as they, similar to G2000 organisations, tend not to be very effective in this area. For example, only 31 per cent of Chinese organisations reported a focus on attracting people of diverse backgrounds. Organisations operating in China should especially focus on better attracting, engaging and developing women19 and Millennials20 as these two employee types tend not to feel well-supported in the workplace.

Figure 10. Call to action for Chinese organisations

Based on our findings, organisations operating in China should consider:

  1. Strengthening their foundational talent practises so as to put in place a solid base for overall talent management maturity.
  2. Creating fair and inclusive performance management processes that are culturally acceptable.
  3. Developing a unique talent strategy, based on data, that is focussed on retaining critical talent segments, such as skilled women and Millennials.
  4. Building a strong and relevant culture of leadership and learning by providing training and development opportunities that will help bridge current leadership gaps and attract talent at all levels.
  5. Developing a systemic relationship with talent that embraces employee-centric technology systems to help improve functionality for workforce planning, succession management and talent acquisition. Specifically, this could include:
    1. Expanding leaders’ understanding of talent through qualitative (in other words, direct conversations with employees, discussions on overall levels of talent capability or succession management readiness) or quantitative (in other words, surveys or assessments of skills capabilities) means
    2. Implementing technology that allows managers and direct reports to provide and access information about employees’ skills, capabilities, knowledge and career preferences
    3. Creating organisational structures that allow the organisation to effectively respond to new talent information
    4. Providing resources and opportunities to employees that enable them to develop a responsive interaction with the organisation
  6. Developing more embedded and strategic D&I practises, particularly for women and Millennials.
Show more

AIA China: Building a performance-driven culture, increasing engagement

Before 2009, insurance company AIA China had no standard performance metrics. Because there was little link between pay and performance, employees did not receive the demonstrated benefits of a strong performance management system. To address this issue, the company designed a key performance indicator (KPI) pool, which identified success factors for each position and mapped positions to the company’s strategic goals. Employee expectations were similarly aligned to the KPIs.

At the same time, the company shifted its pay structure towards variable pay, including short- and long-term bonus components to reward high performers. To further align employee and company interests and increase employee engagement, AIA China also launched an employee share purchase plan. Taken together, these initiatives reinforced the company’s strong interest in changing the culture to emphasise performance. They also increased employee engagement from 20 per cent to 63 per cent, particularly among high performers. As a result, talent retention rose as sales agent turnover dropped to half the industry average. For these and other talent management reforms, the company has won recognition as a leading employer in the industry.

Growth market: Brazil

Political challenges and an economic downturn have changed the landscape dramatically for organisations operating within Brazil. To complicate matters, an ageing workforce, lack of investment in learning and leadership development and gaps in the education system have contributed to a shortage of qualified talent to fill available roles. Figure 11 illustrates that, similar to China, organisations in Brazil tend to struggle with creating a mature talent management environment.

Brazilian organisations tend to excel at talent acquisition (91 per cent are effective to a great or moderate extent, compared to 89 per cent in the G2000) but could continue to improve upon these practises.

Brazilian organisations should create partnerships with local education systems to help create and maintain a steady supply of entry-level talent; this can be done through apprenticeships and the continued, if not increased, use of internships. These practises can help round out deficiencies in the educational system and signal to potential candidates that the organisation values continued development. Brazilian employers can create a seamless talent experience for these populations by connecting the talent acquisition, learning and development, and career management practises for a single vision of how a prospective employee can join and grow with the organisation. This approach can create a competitive employee value proposition difficult for others to replicate.

In addition, Brazilian organisations’ performance management efforts should continue to evolve. Our analysis reveals that while Brazilian organisations may be proficient in appraising performance, few have mastered managing performance. Specifically, many managers are not engaging in performance conversations, nor are they held accountable for employee development.

Most Brazilian organisations we surveyed lack a clear talent strategy. Therefore, they should focus on creating business-aligned talent strategies that can, in particular, improve the leadership and learning culture of the organisation, and expand D&I initiatives in terms of scope and population (for example, beyond what is mandated by the government). Further, many Brazilian organisations view competency models as synonymous with talent strategies. These are not synonymous and the alignment of a competency model to organisational objectives, while important, is insufficient to address talent strategy development. To address this, HR leaders should focus on developing a talent strategy that identifies the most important talent priorities, given the organisation’s business objectives and existing talent gaps.

While Brazilian organisations typically excel at providing development to executive leaders, a large majority of front-line and middle managers and leaders are left without significant development and training. Therefore, a primary area of focus for Brazilian organisations should be improving the importance placed on leadership and learning throughout the organisation. To do so, Brazilian organisations should expand their perspective and definition of leadership to include those lower in the organisational hierarchy and offer those individuals a broader set of development opportunities. In addition, leadership development should be integrated with other talent management practises: integrating leadership competencies into the talent acquisition process, integrating D&I concepts into leadership development programmes and connecting leader growth opportunities to succession management plans.

Another area of focus is having a systemic relationship with talent.21 Though Brazilian organisations report approximately the same level of effectiveness as G2000 organisations (36 per cent vs. 37 per cent, respectively) there are opportunities for improvement. In general, Brazilian organisations should improve two-way communication between employees and their managers, colleagues, and the organisation more broadly about talent capabilities, needs and preferences. Further, Brazilian organisations should focus on improving the quality and breadth of their succession management conversations (only 40 per cent of surveyed Brazilian organisations indicated leaders have succession management discussions to a moderate or great extent, compared to 50 per cent in Global 2000 organisations).

Finally, like G2000 organisations, Brazilian organisations should focus on their diversity and inclusion efforts. Though Brazilian organisations reported their D&I activities were more integrated and strategic than G2000 organisations, analysis revealed that Brazilian organisations’ D&I efforts are typically smaller in scale and focussed primarily on government-mandated diversity standards. This limited focus is different from many G2000 organisations’ wide breadth of D&I initiatives and populations. Brazilian organisations have an opportunity to continue to invest in their compulsory D&I efforts, while expanding their focus to other populations that may be critical to their business needs.

Figure 12. Call to action for Brazilian organisations

Based on our findings, organisations operating in Brazil should consider:

  1. Focussing on moving to a higher level of maturity by first creating clear, business-aligned talent strategies.
  2. Building on their strong ability to source and select talent locally and continue to especially leverage internships.
  3. Enabling managers to hold frequent and meaningful performance-related conversations with direct reports.
  4. Increasing their efforts and investment in development and learning initiatives, focussing on developing front-line employees and middle management, as well as critical talent segments.
  5. Creating talent strategies and, once created, strongly communicating and integrating them with D&I and talent analytics initiatives.
  6. Improving the two-way relationship between employees and the organisation by making changes such as the following:
    1. Implementing tools/systems, such as blogs, goal management software, or recognition management systems, that are user-friendly and facilitate two-way conversations between individual employees and their managers, colleagues and the organisation
    2. Developing core succession management processes
    3. Clearly communicating the expectation of managers and leaders around creating a two-way dialogue with reports about their needs and desires, particularly with regard to succession management conversations
    4. Training managers and leaders to hold succession management conversations that are uniform across the organisation, as well as providing coaching and mentoring to managers as they develop this skill
    5. Equipping managers with the quantitative insights and qualitative skills to have ongoing conversations with their direct reports and that help them manage their people more effectively
  7. Addressing issues of diversity and inclusion by creating policies and procedures that reinforce these efforts and holding leaders accountable to these policies and procedures.
Show more

One company’s approach to leadership and learning to navigate a challenging marketplace

A multinational corporation recognised that its Brazilian arm was continuing to navigate persistently difficult national economic conditions. A company source indicated that while production has declined, manufacturing capacity has remained flat. The decline in production has caused Brazilian manufacturers to reduce their workforce significantly, with many companies using the “3 for 1” approach—keeping one person in a position where three were needed previously.

Because of the external pressures on the company, several key obstacles were hindering its growth, including (1) difficulty promoting people, (2) generational conflicts among its workforce and (3) a lack of diversity, both cultural and gender. To meet these challenges head on, the organisation undertook a number of steps, including formally encouraging and facilitating cross-moves within the organisation, thereby ensuring the rotation of top talent across various business units. Employees are able to seek out greater opportunities within the company’s Brazilian arm as well as in those areas that enabled them to gain global exposure. This strategy emphasises the importance of top talent, gives these leaders greater visibility into the company’s inner workings and positions the organisation for future growth.

To focus further on employee development, the company revised its career management cycle to include additional points throughout the year during which feedback, goals and expectations could be discussed. Among the newly introduced steps are employee dialogues, midyear reviews and development conferences.

Last, the company undertook a series of initiatives to foster greater workplace diversity. Chief among those efforts was to place greater emphasis on both the training of female workers and the development of a more robust female talent pipeline. Through a combination of cultural and online training, the organisation sought to embrace its workforce’s diversity by encouraging the inclusion of women along with individuals from a broad range of cultures. This effort was implemented to bolster the company’s talent pipeline and foster greater retention across the workforce, particularly among the highest performers.

Thus far, the company has benefited tremendously from the changes it has implemented. The revised career management cycle has given HR greater visibility into the performance of talented and promising individuals, leading to higher retention rates. The encouragement of cross-functional moves has given employees greater autonomy over their careers, while encouraging them to pursue beneficial and comprehensive development opportunities within the organisation. Employee satisfaction has risen, too: Assuming ownership of one’s career has empowered employees to more openly and proactively voice concerns as well as seek fresh and challenging opportunities. The talent pipeline has grown increasingly robust through these changes, which should position the organisation to meet the challenging economic and automotive marketplace head on.

Conclusion: Next steps

Employees are seeking a talent experience that traditional areas of talent management cannot create and yesterday’s approach to talent management will no longer effectively provide competitive advantage. A new approach is key—one that puts employees at the centre and creates a personalised, networked experience for them. Organisations that do this can increase their likelihood of performing strongly on other important talent and business outcomes. To do this, organisations in G2000 and emerging markets should continue to leverage foundational strengths, create business-aligned talent strategies and then invest in critical areas of talent management. However, leaders should also pay careful attention to the nuances of their relevant markets and implement changes accordingly.

For top executives and talent managers, our research poses a number of critical questions that can help leaders begin to address talent management maturity:

  • Do you have a clear view of your organisation’s level of talent management maturity?
  • Are business objective and talent management clearly aligned?
  • Can business leaders, across the organisation, articulate why talent management maturity matters to the organisation?
  • Do you have a talent strategy in place to provide guidance in efforts to move further up the talent maturity model?
  • Are you investing effort and resources on factors that impact talent management maturity, and ultimately business and talent outcomes?
  • Which talent practises in the organisation are delivering the most business value?
  • How should talent management practises differ across emerging markets?

In conclusion, our research in India, China and Brazil has shown that a talent strategy mapped towards driving business results can deliver superior performance compared to one merely emphasising the effectiveness of talent management processes. This indicates that insights about the market in which organisations operate are critical in how an organisation addresses talent management. Companies with global operations should seek out business- and market-specific insights to customise their organisations’ generic talent strategy to local markets to be able to achieve the most value. Talent management matters and understanding what drives talent management maturity, and acting upon it appropriately, delivers better business results.

Learn more about Deloitte Consulting


Written By: Roberta Yoshida, Ina Gantcheva

Cover image by: Richard Mia

Several key contributors lent their expertise to this article:

Jeff Schwartz is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and the global leader for Human Capital Marketing, Eminence, and Brand. He is an advisor to senior business leaders in global companies focusing on organisation, HR, talent, and leadership. Schwartz is also the senior advisor for the firm’s Human Capital consulting practise in India.

Candace Atamanik is a research manager in Bersin by Deloitte’s talent management research practise. Her research focuses on talent strategy, talent management, performance management, and competencies. Atamanik’s work has been featured in Fast Company, The Atlantic, and Academic Leader as well as in Leader to Leader and Organisational Dynamics.

Emily Sanders is a senior research analyst within Bersin by Deloitte, where she has contributed to research on topics such as career management, talent management, and performance management. She is currently completing a doctorate in industrial-organisational psychology at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Sharon Sum has delivered large-scale projects in digital operating model transformations, global talent management, and culture change for manufacturing and highly engineered product companies across operations/supply chain, marketing and customer experience functions.

In addition, the authors would like to thank the following individuals for their contributions to this article: in the United States, Josh Bersin, Tom Morrison, Alice Kwan, Nathan Sloan, David Mallon, and Sonia Singh; in Brazil, Luiz Fernando Barosa Oliveira; in China, Jungle Wong, Alan Wang, Xu Bin, Samuel Tsang, Carol Zheng, Simon Xie, Sukie Dong, Mabel Bai, Kelly Ma, Song Ke, and Catherine Qin; and in India, Sandeep Johal, Richa Bigghe, and Vaishnavi Rangarajan.

  1. We surveyed 454 organisations with more than $750 million in income; we used this as a benchmarking group. We also conducted more than 50 interviews with executives from organisations of this size.

    View in Article
  2. Stacia Sherman Garr, Candace Atamanik, and David Mallon, High-impact talent management: The new talent management maturity model, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2015,

    View in Article
  3. The number of organisations in the sample population for each country: India, n = 269; China, n = 235; Brazil, n = 253.

    View in Article
  4. Please note these are self-reported metrics.

    View in Article
  5. The odds ratios presented in this figure indicate the presence of a relationship, indicating that talent management maturity and important outcomes are related to each other. This information should not be used to infer causation. Instead, it should be used as a reference that, in general, organisations with increased levels of talent management maturity also tend to experience greater odds of enhanced performance in various business and talent outcomes.

    View in Article
  6. The data collected indicates that Brazilian organisations at high and low levels of talent management maturity have a similar likelihood of being in the top quartile for two business metrics: (1) innovating and (2) meeting or exceeding financial targets. This is most likely due to a lack of representation at the extreme ends of talent management maturity (i.e., level 1 and level 4) among Brazilian organisations, which makes it difficult to uncover true relationships in the data. Therefore, we suggest that leaders interpret these results with extreme caution. Given the results we have seen in other countries and in the G2000 data set, it is unlikely that Brazilian organisations that are low in talent management maturity would be equally likely as those at higher levels to be in the top quartile for either innovation or meeting or exceeding financial targets.

    View in Article
  7. While our model identifies three steps for talent management maturity, individual organisations may find just one or two areas—or even activities within each step—that they should specifically prioritise.

    View in Article
  8. While our discussion will focus on six areas of talent management, it is important to recognise these six are not inclusive of all factors contributing to talent management maturity. These are, however, areas in which markets differ the most and provide the most opportunity to increase maturity.

    View in Article
  9. We define diversity as “the variety of people and ideas within a company. Organisations often define the diversity of their people according to legally protected differences, such as race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, maternity status, and other “nonvisible” qualities and backgrounds. While organisations may use legally protected differences to define diversity, it is important to remember that people are multidimensional in their diversity. The elements and factors that contribute to diversity can be both visible (traditional) and invisible.” (See Bersin by Deloitte, “Diversity,”

    View in Article
  10. We define inclusion as “creating an environment in which people feel involved, respected, valued, and connected—and to which individuals bring their “authentic” selves (their ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives) to the team and to the business.” (See Bersin by Deloitte, “Inclusion,”

    View in Article
  11. Our three-step approach places the talent strategy step after the foundational practises of talent acquisition and performance management step, as our analysis shows that foundational activities are essential even if the organisation has not yet developed a strategic talent management approach. Once organisations have set their talent strategy, they can and should return to their talent acquisition and performance management practises and refine them to further align with that strategy.

    View in Article
  12. Garr, Atamanik, and Mallon, High-impact talent management.

    View in Article
  13. Citibank,, accessed 20 December 2016.

    View in Article
  14. Citigroup,, accessed 20 December 2016.

    View in Article
  15. Gary Coleman, Ira Kalish, Dan Konigsburg, and Xu Sitao, Competitiveness: Catching the next wave—China, Deloitte, 2014,

    View in Article
  16. In Chinese society, maintaining self-respect and personal reputation (often referred to as “face”) is critical. “Face” can be “lost,” “saved,” or “given,” and criticism, public reprimands, sarcasm, and other behaviours can have a negative impact on “face.” As a result, it is customary in China to avoid being direct, especially if any negative content may be inferred. Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, Into China: Talent management essentials in a land of paradox, PageUp People, 2012,

    View in Article
  17. Ibid.

    View in Article
  18. Ibid.

    View in Article
  19. “Managing talent in China today: A fresh perspective,” Deloitte DBriefs, 10 October 2013.

    View in Article
  20. Arnold Sun, Edward Tse, and John Jullens, “People challenges in China,” Booz & Co., 2011,

    View in Article
  21. For definition, refer to figure 4.

    View in Article

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve further, please complete a 3-minute survey