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How To Perform a Talent Review

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Talia Knowles is an avid reader, writer, and coffee enthusiast, with over five years of experience in writing and editing.

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How To Perform a Talent Review

How To Perform a Talent Review

Though they may seem daunting to employers and employees alike, talent reviews are an essential part of running a successful business.

A talent review is simply an opportunity to discuss how an employee is performing, identify any obstacles to their development, and ensure they have opportunities to improve. 

Rather than the negative experience employees may expect, this article will help you create a talent review process that equips your employees and your business with the knowledge and strategies they need to succeed. 

What Is a Talent Review?

As experienced business owners know, talent is your most valuable asset. However, hiring great employees is only the first step in a successful talent management strategy

Talent reviews are conversations with employees to analyze their performance and identify any skill gaps.

Strategic oversight ensures that the right people are in the right roles and developing the skills necessary to help your business thrive. A talent review is an opportunity to assess the success of your talent management strategy and individual employee performance. 

It may be helpful to think of a talent review like a report card. If a child does poorly in one subject, it usually means they need extra help or motivation, but if an entire class struggles, it often reflects poorly on the teacher. 

Just as in school, areas of shortcomings can reflect both where the employee needs to improve and areas that may be neglected by management. After all, it’s okay if one employee doesn’t know how to use a particular tool, but if you discover that all of them are untrained, you have a problem! 

What Are The Benefits of a Talent Review?

Talent reviews may sound intimidating to employees, but really, they will often set their minds at ease. 

Even if there are areas that need to be enhanced, employees will often feel more secure when they know where they need to improve, rather than not knowing where they stand with their employer. 

Talent reviews are also an important reminder for employers to take stock of their team and assess how well they are equipped to tackle the organization’s objectives. These conversations can identify critical skill gaps or alert an employer to consider expanding their team. 

How To Perform a Talent Review

Even if you already have a successful talent management strategy, your organization will undoubtedly benefit from implementing a talent review process. Let’s take a look at the steps required to make this happen. 

1. Preparing for the Talent Review Process

Before you begin a talent review, take some time to establish your objectives for the upcoming conversations. What points would you like to address with all employees? How can you provide critical feedback in a way that is motivating rather than discouraging? 

Include key stakeholders and decision-makers in this process to develop a comprehensive strategy that accurately reflects your organization’s broader goals. 

It’s also important to ensure equal treatment of all employees, so we recommend using a standardized rubric or template. You’ll need to let employees know about talent review meetings in advance so they can be efficiently scheduled. 

Your employees will experience much less stress surrounding the process if they know about upcoming talent reviews in advance. You should already have a normalized routine of check-ins or one-to-one meetings, ensuring that nothing that comes up in a talent review meeting should come as a huge shock to anyone. 

Giving employees an idea of what to expect in advance will minimize anxiety and clear the way for a more productive conversation. 

2. Identifying Talent Review Criteria

Before you begin talent reviews, identify the criteria you’ll use to discuss employee performance. These criteria are the foundation for assessing employees’ performance, potential, and readiness for career advancement. 

The criteria should be aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives and specific job roles. Core competencies and job-specific skills are often also included to evaluate employees’ proficiency in essential areas. 

Performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) help gauge an employee’s track record and contributions to the organization’s success. 

Additionally, leadership abilities and teamwork skills are evaluated to determine an individual’s capacity to lead and collaborate effectively within the team and beyond. 

Identifying useful criteria in advance ensures that the talent review process is objective, fair, and aligned with the organization’s long-term goals, ultimately enabling the development of high-potential employees.

Here are a few ideas for criteria to include in a talent review. 

​​Impact Beyond Expectations

Does this employee have an impact on the organization that exceeds what is typically expected from their role, experience level, or compensation level?

Exemplary Leadership

Does this employee serve as an inspiration to others, elevating the performance of their colleagues and promoting a positive team culture?

Strategic Decision-Making

Does this employee demonstrate the ability to think strategically and plan for the long term, or do they tend to focus on short-term goals?

High Productivity For Compensation

Does this employee’s productivity rank in the 90th percentile when compared to their pay range?

Fit For Excellence

Does this employee possess the necessary skills, experience, behavioral traits, and cognitive aptitude required to excel in their current role?

Promotability and Adaptability

Does this employee display potential for growth within the organization and the ability to adapt to new challenges?

Work Quality and Timeliness

Does this employee consistently produce high-quality work within reasonable timeframes?

Positive Attitude and Drive

Does this employee exhibit a proactive and committed attitude toward the organization’s vision, embracing curiosity over judgment?

Interpersonal Likability and Collaboration

Is this employee pleasant to work with, contributing positively to the organization’s culture, and exhibiting cooperative behavior with colleagues from different teams and departments?

3. Data Gathering and Documentation

Once you’ve determined the criteria you’ll use in your talent review, the next step is to gather data and documentation to help you assess each employee. Consider implementing software to track key performance indicators (KPIs), which provides hard data to use in talent reviews. 

Asking employees to complete self-assessments can provide useful insight into how they view their own performance, while gathering feedback from managers and peers provides another helpful perspective. 

If you’ve completed a talent review in the past, look over your notes from that conversation to see if the employee has improved in their targeted areas. 

4. Conducting the Talent Review Meeting

Once you’ve examined each employee’s performance, schedule meetings, either one-on-one or with additional facilitators. Keep the number of facilitators low, as involving too many people can make employees feel like they’re sitting before a panel. 

Begin the meeting with an assurance of confidentiality and data protection and provide an overview of the organization’s intentions for talent reviews. 

Reminding employees that this meeting is only intended to benefit them (by ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed) can reframe the situation in their minds and allow them to be more receptive to feedback. 

Strive to provide fair and objective feedback and share relevant data with employees to help them understand your thought process. Though providing critical feedback is valuable, be careful not to spend too much time on the negative. 

We recommend using approximately 20% of your time to discuss the past and the remaining 80% to discuss the future. Encourage open dialogue and discussion so that employees feel they are participating in a conversation rather than being lectured. 

By framing any shortcomings as opportunities to improve, you can help employees conclude the meeting feeling motivated rather than chastised. 

Addressing Bias

Even if it is unconscious, bias can creep into the talent review process and turn the process toxic. Your organization should already have a strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, but take steps to ensure these principles also extend to talent reviews.

If possible, create a diverse team to handle the talent review process. Implementing a standardized procedure that is used for all employees can also help mitigate implicit bias.  

5. Talent Development and Succession Planning

Talent review and succession planning are interlinked processes that are critical to an organization’s long-term success and sustainability. 

We already know that talent management helps identify high-potential individuals and key contributors who are crucial to the company’s future growth and success. 

Then, succession planning focuses on developing a pipeline of capable and skilled leaders who can step into critical roles when the need arises due to promotions, retirements, or unforeseen departures. 

By combining talent review outcomes with succession planning, organizations can proactively identify and nurture the next generation of leaders, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership and minimizing disruptions to operations. 

Moreover, this integrated approach fosters a culture of continuous development and employee engagement, as individuals see a clear path for growth and advancement within the organization. 

By investing in talent review and succession planning, businesses can secure their future by building a strong leadership team capable of navigating challenges and seizing opportunities in an ever-changing business landscape.

6. Post-Talent Review Follow-Up

Almost more important than a talent review, a post-talent review follow-up is a critical next step. This stage plays a pivotal role in transforming the insights gained from the review into actionable outcomes. 

Managers and HR professionals should collaborate closely to provide feedback to employees and discuss the review results. This helps the focus shift from just assessing performance to creating personalized development plans for each team member. 

This follow-up allows for setting clear objectives, identifying growth opportunities, and addressing any skill gaps that were identified during the review. Furthermore, it reinforces the organization’s commitment to employee growth and career advancement, boosting employee engagement and motivation. 

By maintaining open lines of communication and providing ongoing support, the post-talent review follow-up empowers individuals to take ownership of their development journey and contributes to the organization’s overall success.

Addressing Potential Challenges

During talent reviews, you may encounter some challenges that prevent the process from achieving the desired results. 

We’ve already discussed the potential issues of biases and subjectivity in evaluations, where personal opinions or favoritism can influence ratings and feedback. 

Another possible difficulty is the lack of clear, well-defined evaluation criteria, which can lead to inconsistent assessments across different managers or departments. Additionally, limited or inaccurate performance data can undermine talent assessments, making it challenging to identify areas for improvement. 

Communication barriers and a lack of feedback from employees can also hinder the process, as valuable insights may be missed.

Though all of these issues will require unique problem-solving depending on your organization, any issue can be improved by balancing objectivity with empathy in providing constructive feedback, even when addressing the talent review facilitators (including yourself!). 

Overly critical assessments may demotivate employees, while overly positive ones may fail to address developmental needs. Addressing these challenges requires careful planning, training, and a commitment to fostering a fair and transparent talent review process.


In conclusion, talent reviews serve as a powerful tool for organizations to identify, develop, and retain their top-performing employees. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement and growth, talent reviews allow companies to align their talent strategy with their overall business goals. 

Through rigorous evaluation and constructive feedback, employees are empowered to maximize their potential, while leaders gain a comprehensive understanding of their organization’s strengths and areas for improvement. 

As the business landscape continues to evolve, companies that embrace the benefits of talent reviews will undoubtedly stay ahead of the competition, driving innovation and success in the long run. 

Ultimately, talent reviews are not just a once-a-year exercise but a strategic investment in the future of the organization and its most valuable asset: its people.


What steps are involved in preparing for a talent review?

Preparing for a talent review involves establishing clear objectives, identifying key stakeholders, securing necessary resources, and developing a timetable and communication plan.

How can organizations ensure a fair and unbiased talent review process?

To ensure fairness and minimize biases, organizations should use objective criteria, gather diverse perspectives, provide training on unconscious bias, and use calibration meetings for consensus building.

How can talent reviews contribute to employee development?

Talent reviews help identify employees’ strengths and development areas, leading to the creation of individual development plans (IDPs) that target specific skill gaps and support career growth.

What is the role of HR technology in talent reviews?

HR technology streamlines the talent review process by automating data collection, analysis, and reporting, making it easier to track employee performance and potential over time.

How can organizations link talent reviews with succession planning?

Talent reviews provide valuable insights into potential successors for key positions, ensuring a robust pipeline of talent and facilitating smooth leadership transitions when needed.