5 Critical Talent Review Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Talent ReviewTalent reviews mark some of the most crucial dates on every organization’s calendar. These are critical moments when performance is assessed, potential is identified, future positions are discussed, and succession plans are created.

But the data shows that most organizations aren’t making the most of their talent review process:


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Securing the future is vital to the success of any organization, yet many organizations struggle to identify and retain their core contributors.

To truly understand and leverage your talent, you need to reshape your approach to talent reviews. Here are five critical mistakes organizations make, followed by advice to overcome them.


5 Critical Talent Review Mistakes


1. The organization doesn't have a clear vision or definition of what good performance looks like.

Talent reviews bring together senior leaders, HR representatives, and managers of diverse teams and departments. Everyone has their own view of what strong performance looks like. Without a shared vision, there’s nothing to measure against and no way to identify who is and is not performing well.


Solution: Create organizational expectations and benchmarks for performance.

Get everyone on the same page by setting a standard. Establish behaviors, KPIs, and achievements that indicate an employee is on the rise. Create a company-specific definition of potential that values high performance across fundamentally different challenges, not just proficiency in one distinct skill or role.


2. Too much time passes between talent reviews.

Organizations should constantly reassess not only where talent stands, but where it’s headed in the future. Talented employees who are content with their role today might look elsewhere if they don’t sense there’s room to grow.

Similarly, productive but unchallenged employees may become bored and see their output slump. If talent reviews are too far apart and companies don’t identify these shifts before they happen, the damage may already be done.


Solution: Hold frequent talent reviews.

Most companies conduct an annual talent review, typically at the end of the year. It’s recommended, however, that organizations analyze talent at least four times a year, especially when key positions become vacant. Even if you can’t get the entire group together for a formal talent review, have participants routinely communicate between reviews to maintain fresh perspectives on talent. Take advantage of collaborative software tools that allow you to keep a pulse on your internal talent pool throughout the year. 


3. Employee data is collected infrequently and haphazardly.

Recency bias and outdated information have the potential to cripple talent reviews and the decisions that come out of them. Subjective and stale ratings, comments, and reviews provide inaccurate assessments of an employee’s current and future state, and talented employees may be passed over or misidentified.


Solution: Managers should continually assess performance, growth trajectory, and retention risk.

Instruct managers to frequently document notes on employees, even outside of formal conversations or reviews, to stay objective and maintain fresh viewpoints. If they rely on mental notes to inform talent decisions, their opinions will be biased by recent events, good or bad. Managers should collect performance and potential data on an ongoing basis to eliminate these types of biases.


4. Talent decisions are made in silos. 

High potential employees are typically nominated by an individual, usually their direct manager, who makes the case for their fit in a key position. The rest of the decision makers are left to assess the potential of that employee based on that lone opinion, which may be incorrect, out of date, or biased.


Solution: Make decisions collaboratively.

Multiple voices should contribute assessments of each employee. The more opinions gathered, the more objective, accurate view the group will have to work with. Ask managers to provide comments, feedback, or reviews from others, including coworkers, customers, or other managers they work closely with.


5. No follow-up steps or actions are defined.

Highly-motivated employees resist static situations. If their role remains stagnant, they will either seek new employment or become frustrated and experience burnout. Talent reviews must not only identify standout employees, but also create solutions to keep them engaged and on the right path.


Solution: Conclude each talent review by determining next steps and who is responsible for them.

The organization should identify possible mentors and consider stretch assignments or new roles to further assess employee potential. Managers should be held accountable for implementing development initiatives and regularly evaluating employee progress.



Talent reviews are essential to assess strengths and gaps in your talent pipeline. Quantum Workplace Talent Reviews can help you capture the ongoing data you need to make informed, strategic talent decisions.

Vitals Talent Pipeline

Published April 22, 2019 | Written By Dan Hoppen