The PM Talent Toolbox: How to Improve Your Talent Management Game

While project management leaders may not always have the authority to hire or fire, they can still significantly impact project management talent growth and retention by using the right tools. The Strategic Execution Framework (SEF) (Figure 1), which was developed to help companies align their strategy to their execution, is a powerful tool that PM leaders can apply to their talent efforts.

Figure 1: Strategic Execution Framework

The SEF consists of six domains that have been proven to help companies effectively determine, articulate, and execute their strategy:

1. Ideation Know who you are, why you exist, and where you’re going.

Having a strong ideation at the project and program level – as well as the organizational level – provides a clear definition of the work to come, allowing employees to understand the impact of their individual and group efforts.

2. Nature Align your strategy with the larger company’s culture and structure.

Discovering and articulating the culture and structure improves alignment between the organization, the work, and the team, enabling its members to produce at their highest levels.

3. Vision The translation of long-term intention into short- and medium-term goals, metrics, and strategies.

A strong vision helps the project management leadership define and measure its organizational contributions, allowing team members to align their work focus to outcomes and deepen their understanding of how their role contributes to the organization.

4. Engagement Know the right project-based work required to execute the organization’s strategy.

For the project management leader, it’s about understanding what skills are needed on the team. For the individual, it helps them align their perspective to the organizational goals, while providing them with direction about the types of skills they should focus on growing.

5. Synthesis Executing projects and programs in alignment with the portfolio.

Organizationally, synthesis is about how project-based work gets accomplished through methodologies, governance, and other processes. For project management leaders pursuing talent, synthesis speaks to the need to ensure that the necessary resources are in place to attract and retain talent.

6. Transition Moving the results of projects into the main stream of the operation.

By reviewing the metrics defined for success at the individual, team, and organizational levels, project management leaders should have a clear perspective of how well they are addressing the areas that can have the greatest impact on talent management objectives.

While the SEF serves as an excellent basis for identifying a talent management strategy and guiding the strategy’s execution, it doesn’t speak to the specifics of “what” to do. For that, we’ll use the TALENT model.

Integral Talent System’s (ITS) research-based TALENT model maps the needs of the organization and team members, helping leaders to focus on the areas that can deliver the greatest impact. According to ITS, the following areas will provide maximum ROI for talent retention:

Targeted Recruiting and Hiring – Ensuring the organization’s ideation and nature aligns with the individual’s ideation and nature avoids culture clashes and frustration, and builds mutual buy-in and commitment between the individual and the organization.

Achievement – A key role of a project manager is to assess team member capabilities, assign roles accordingly, and provide the information and coaching needed to help the team member deliver the results for which they are accountable.

Learning and Professional Growth – ITS’s research shows that affording the individual the opportunity to build their resume with experiences strengthens the desire to stay with an employer.

Ensuring Recognition – ITS found that compensation is “the price of admission” for organizations that want to attract strong talent, but it’s not what helps retain the talent. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to recognition, leaders should take a “one-size-fits-one” approach, where recognition is individualized.

Nurturing Career Development – Coaching and mentoring programs build and strengthen networks and enhance the sense of belonging, keeping top performers interested and engaged with the team and/or organization over the long term.

Team Collaboration – Effective collaboration enables desired team outcomes as varied as the effective resolution of conflicts and the meaningful celebration of wins and successes.

Aligning your organization’s strategy to your talent management efforts will deliver what you, your organization, and your team members need to keep renewing their commitment for a successful and long-term relationship.

The Strategic Execution Framework (SEF) was developed by the Stanford Advanced Project Management program, a partnership between IPS Learning and the Stanford Center for Professional Development. The SEF is described in detail in the book Executing Your Strategy: How to Break It Down and Get It Done (Morgan et al., 2008).

The TALENT Model was developed by Integral Talent Systems (ITS), a global technology-enabled talent management consulting firm. ITS conducts ongoing independent research so that its clients stay abreast of the most current workforce trends and best practices. (

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Tim Wasserman
Tim Wasserman is the chief learning officer for TwentyEighty Strategy Execution and the program director for the Stanford Advanced Project Management (SAPM) program. He is responsible for leading the strategy and content of all Strategy Execution learning solutions. Mr. Wasserman is an expert in the successful implementation of large-scale organizational behavior change, with more than 25 years of experience developing and implementing enterprise-wide initiatives for Fortune 500 companies. He has led design and implementation teams to improve execution capabilities for organizations including Cisco, Google, Medtronic, Nordstrom, Prudential, and Boeing. He has delivered workshops globally and is on the SAPM faculty delivering on campus at Stanford on the topics of organizational change and transformation and global team effectiveness.