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Performance Management: Employee Engagement and Talent Management

Updated: May 21, 2020

Performance management generally means evaluating performance and working to make that performance more effective and efficient. While performance management can be somewhat broad leaders should identify specific variables to target and improve upon. Employee engagement and talent management are two such variables. Employee engagement may play a role in performance and productivity, depending on what the leader considered engagement and how it is measured. Talent management is important when acquiring new employees, and also for once they are on-board. Talent management strategy, as a facet of performance management, should entail input, interaction, growth, and upward mobility. Employee engagement and talent management are both important parts of the complex puzzle that is organizational performance.

Managing organizational performance is critical to achieving organizational goals. Management must plan, organize, monitor, and control both activities and leadership in an effort to meet goals as well (Armstrong, 2018). Two facets of performance management discussed in this paper are employee engagement and talent management. The impact and role of these two facets are of particular importance when creating a high performance culture, evaluating organizational capability, and developing a strategic approach for the attainment of organizational goals.Employee Engagement Employee engagement is multifaceted concept which can include the employee’s emotional connection to the organization, influences, level of stimulation, trust, communication, opportunity for growth, and pride in the company (Business Dictionary, 2019). Intuitively, the term elicits an image of participation and perhaps happiness in the employee’s role. Employee engagement is undoubtedly an important aspect of performance management. Gruman and Saks suggest that producing performance increments is best achieved by positioning the performance management system to encourage employee engagement (2011).

Employee Engagement and Performance Management Individual employee engagement should correlate with team performance as a whole. Employee engagement and performance must be evaluated on an individual basis and also on a team basis for maximum impact to the organization. To ensure that each team member is performing and engaging as effectively as possible is to ensure that the team each member is on is also performing as effectively as possible. Uddin et all (2019) investigated the impact of employee engagement on team performance.  The study suggests that better employee engagement could improve team performance in organizational contexts. If individuals are engaged to their maximum capability, so too will the team be fully engaged for maximum output.Engagement, Productivity and Ownership Baldoni (2013) states that employee engagement does more than boost productivity. In a meta-analysis of 1.4 million employees the Gallup Organization reported an increase in productivity level of 22 percent in organizations with a high level of engagement. Highly engaged organizations have two times the level of success. A chief scientist at Gallup Research, Dr. J. Harter, explained, “Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.” Engagement, productivity and ownership are therefore also appear to be interrelated.Fuller ad Shikaloff (2017) describe in their article in the Harvard Business Review that being engaged at work is not the same as being productive. In 2017 only about one-third of employees in the United States were engaged on the job, and 13 percent worldwide. Many companies believe the key to productivity is employee engagement. The term engagement is a somewhat ambiguous term which could include job satisfaction, emotional investment, discretionary effort investment, or advocating the organization as a good place to work. Because of the ambiguity of the term engagement is it difficult to definitively state specifically and engagement and productivity have a definitive causal relationship, since the term engagement has a subjective and interpretive component.Correlating Engagement and Productivity The first issue that comes along when attempting to correlate productivity and engagement is the measurement of productivity. The productivity of a sales person would provide somewhat clear benchmarks, but quantifying knowledge workers proves to be more difficult. Productivity can be measured variably as well. Productivity can be based on cases closed, emails sent, hours worked and so on. In addition, one should not overlook the quality of the work as opposed to simply measuring output quantity. Dr. Harter, who has co-authored over 1,000 articles on the subject, states that many organizations measure the wrong variables, too many variables, and/or do not make the data intuitively actionable (Baldoni, 2013). On a cases by cases basis, engagement can be specifically defined and its components listed to find a correlation between those specific facets and productivity, but researchers should be weary of utilizing the blanket term engagement when a more specific criteria could be better suited.Increasing Engagement Engaging employees means creating an environment that employees connect with. There are many different managerial styles and approaches to getting employees engaged and it may vary depending on the company. There is a general roadmap for engagement that is almost universally applicable. Rick Conlow explains in his roadmap for engagement four steps: input, involve, interact, and improve (2013). Feedback, or input, is the first essential component. Feedback may be attained through varied avenues, but the input given is what is vital. Brainstorming is another great way to attain input. Leaders must have the ability to listen to their team’s valuable input. Involving the team, with their individual strengths, talents, and potential to examine the issues at hand. The involved individuals not only will contribute their unique strengths but will be able to all benefit from the sense of accomplishment attained after the improvement step. Involvement can look like a verbal discussion, a virtual discussion board, or any variety of interaction platforms that allows for the exchange of ideas.Interactions need to be consistent. Brainstorming should not be a one-time event, or even set too sparsely apart in time. Engagement must be cultivated through repeated interactions and improvements. Effective meeting skills should include praise for accomplishments, progress, and relationship building. Interpersonal skills and communication that create an environment that is open to questions will lead to improvement.Improvement can come in many forms but many times originates with a simple question. If an environment is not conducive to people asking the right questions, appropriate improvements are less likely to come to light in a timely fashion.  Leaders should be very careful to not criticize or shame questioning employees in any way.Conlow’s “road map” seems to be almost universally applicable, but it is somewhat superficial. The wealth of interpersonal skills needed to keep meetings on task and continue to motivate entire teams is an asset in and of itself, and sadly one that many leaders need to improve. The general road map is an excellent tool to build on, custom tailor, and create meaningful strategies with regardless of the industry.Talent Management In today’s highly competitive environment, organizations must strive to hire, manage, develop, and retain talented employees (Heathfield, 2019). The role of the manager differentiates the talent management focused organization and the performance management focused organization, although it is not entirely a black and white issue.Talent Management and Performance Management Talent management focused leaders play a significant role in not only the recruitment, but in the development and retention of excellent employees (Heathfield, 2019). An organization may choose to only offer top potential employees in the talent management system, while another organization may include all employees. While performance management focuses on key performance metrics talent management includes opportunity for growth and development. Both facets of management are important and intertwined but talent management includes a degree of room for growth and addressing issues that would engage and lead to higher employee satisfaction.Logically, an individual who is working with talents they are most comfortable with will be more engaged and therefore more productive. Leaders must select the individual for a role based on their skill set and talents. In the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 author Tom Rath discusses the importance of identifying ones natural skills and growing and developing one’s strength as opposed to focusing on strengthening one’s weaknesses (2007). This information is vital in talent management. Too often manager may see a weak area and focus on strengthening that weakness, but research indicates that the most growth and development can be seen from building on strengths and talents. To provide talent management, leader will need to asses which talents an individual possesses. Firstly, identifying behaviors that make individuals successful in that specific organization is critical. The leader will need to identify talent, perhaps in an interview, by identifying skills, abilities, and strengths while also identifying what the individual is looking for, essentially their motivation and/or goals. This type of probing is most effective in an environment where the individual feels at ease and comfortable.What does effective talent management look like? Talent management is often considered in terms of Human Resources departments but each department, and the overall organization, can be analyzed through a talent management lens. For an organization, overall, recruiting, interviewing, selecting, and on-boarding are typical steps and facets (Greg Learning, 2016). Once the employee is onboard, talent management continues and appear more like Conlow’s roadmap (Conlow, 2013). It should be understood specificity and custom design of talent management strategies continues as the leader examines variables more deeply. The strategy should constantly be evaluated for potential improvements and/or to include previously overlooked considerations.


Talent management and employee engagement are essential components to performance management. Employee engagement can be interpreted in many ways and deserves more specificity as leaders tackle the impact of engagement in the realm of performance management. The correlation between employee engagement and productivity makes logical sense, but the ambiguity of the term “engagement” and the way productivity is measured has led some researchers to question the correlation.There may not be a correlation between all the possible interpretations of engagement and productivity, which is why specificity is vital when examining either. Leaders can use general templates but creating a plan custom to their organization, department, and team is imperative to truly effective performance management. The custom strategies must be fluid and updated regularly to reflect team input, interactions and improvements.Leaders are responsible for taking general guideline, or road maps, and making them significant to their organization by thoughtful analysis and meaningful application. Understanding the skills of team members, successfully applying those skills to specific task, leading interactions toward meaningful ends, and improving processes on an individual and organizational level is the formidable challenge facing leaders but one that has the potential to bring a variety of rewards for growth for all involved participants.


Baldoni, J. (2013). Employee engagement does more than boost productivity. Harvard Business  Review. Retrieved from

Conlow, R. (2013). How to create employee engagement: 4 leadership methods that work. Retrieved from Engagement. (2019) Business Dictionary. Retrieved from

Fuller, R. and Shikaloff, N. (February 16, 2017). Being engaged at work is not the same as being productive. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Greg Learning. (2016). What is talent management? Retrieved from, J. and Saks, A. (June 2011). Performance management and employee engagement. Human Resource Management Review. Vol.21, Issue 2, pp 123-136.

Heathfield, S. (January 2019) Why talent management is an important business strategy to develop. Retrieved from

Aftab Uddin, Monowar Mahmood, Luo Fan, (2019) "Why individual employee engagement matters for team performance?: Mediating effects of employee commitment and organizational citizenship behaviour", Team Performance Management: An International Journal, Vol. 25 Issue: 1/2, pp.47-68,

Rath, Tom. (2007) Strengths finder 2.0. New York : Gallup Press

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