The “great recession” forced many organizations to reexamine their talent management approach. Unlike previous downturns, when companies could — and did — implement blanket layoffs, this time, many organizations took a broad look at the different talent dynamics affecting them and conducted targeted layoffs, while continuing to recruit key people.

As we exit the recession, and organizations begin to accept the reality of a tightening labour market, companies are focusing on an integrated approach that looks at how talent management programs can support business strategy. We believe that this trend can be summarized into five new rules for talent management.

Rule 1: There’s never enough money. Invest differently to optimize results.
There’s never enough money — in good times and bad. Instead of spreading the wealth evenly, employers need to segment their talent pools and invest differently in each segment.

Rule 2: If it doesn’t measure business impact, it’s just a distraction.
Companies need to measure outcomes — whether in production, sales or talent management — that affect business success. However, despite its importance, performance management is often inadequately executed and poorly measured.

Rule 3: Let the numbers drive talent decisions.
Most talent decisions are made on gut instinct. Not only are there few systems out there with good data on recruitment, promotion and job performance, the management culture in many organizations permits an intuitive approach to hiring.

Rule 4: Build adaptable skills. Prepare future leadership for any situation.
Leading organizations have adopted a new set of competencies and skills that go beyond a person’s current position. This focus on adaptability and future skills requires a significant shift in learning and development, but also in other processes such as recruitment, selection, promotion and succession.

Rule 5: Simplify performance management, and measure impact instead of goals.
Getting day-to-day performance management right helps clarify an employee’s role, while focusing employee development on competencies that determine the organization’s success.