Growing higher education leaders through strategic talent management
Woodard, Tina Collins
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Talent is a global issue on which higher education must increase its focus. The purpose of this study was to understand talent management in American public colleges and universities. The chief learning officer of Premier Education System (PES) led an action research (AR) team consisting of five chief human resources officers in a two-year study engaging thirteen incumbent chief business officers and eight of their key talent as research participants. The three questions that guided the research were: (a) What are the challenges and benefits of designing and beginning to implement a talent management strategy in Higher Education? (b) How do Chief Business Officers in public colleges and universities perceive their leadership role? and (c) What can be learned from the experience of CBOs and identified potential successors as they pilot the initial phases of a talent development process? The chief business officer, a critical position in higher education, was the focus of this study. Qualitative data were generated using seven methods: semi-structured interviews, casual conversations, incidental observations, email correspondence, meeting notes, personal journal notes, and organizational documents. The data were analyzed inductively using the Constant Comparative Method (Ruona, 2005). The AR team followed Coghlin and Brannick’s (2010) AR cycle consisting of four basic steps for conducting research: constructing, planning action, taking action, and evaluating action. In AR cycle one, the team designed and began to implement strategic talent management. In cycle two, the team developed a job performance model. Lastly, in cycle three, the team designed and piloted talent review methodology. The study shows that a strategic talent management approach using the Talent Stewardship Model (Avedon & Scholes, 2010) is effective, yet the model omits critical elements of effective talent management strategy. The Talent Growth Model extends the Talent Stewardship Model (Avedon & Scholes, 2010) to include establishing a talent management catalyst, securing executive commitment, obtaining adequate resources, designing a job performance model, and executing a communication strategy. The study further found that the collaborative and consultative nature of higher education mandated the need for a group talent review to involve other leaders in selecting key talent.