Talent Management

Broadly speaking, talent management is a holistic approach to managing the people needs of the organization – attracting and hiring new employees; developing, motivating and retaining employees; and being prepared for movement/departure through succession planning. At the individual level for EXs in the public service, “Talent Management” refers to your forward looking, career focused plans and discussions with your manager.

Note: If you work for a separate employer, please note that some separate employers have different approaches and tools to support Talent Management for Executives. If you work for a separate employer, please consult your Human Resources team to better understand the approach and process applicable to you. In those organizations, only the first two questions that follow may be relevant to you.


What is Talent Management? (in the context of an individual’s career path)

Talent management is about ensuring that people are matched to the right job for their competencies and career aspirations. The intent is to provide an opportunity for individuals to fully realize their potential while meeting organizational priorities. It is a balance between individual and organizational needs; a shared responsibility between you, your manager, your organization’s senior management team, your deputy head and, the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.

Executive talent in the public service is a corporate resource. As an executive, you are part of a group of individuals who comprise the senior leadership team that is just over 2% of the public service workforce. Executives are a critical success factor of the delivery of the public service’s mandate.

What is the difference between Performance and Talent Management?

Performance management is about how you are delivering on the objectives set out in your Performance Agreement. It is focused on the here and now.

Talent management is about the future. What are your career aspirations? What is your ambition and willingness to take on more responsibility and accountability? And, what competencies do you need to develop to get there?

Your manager may bring broad focus to the talent management discussion, including organizational needs and business priorities, organizational or government-wide needs and thoughts regarding where your competencies could be best used and where you might further develop. Typically, these elements of the discussion are reflected in a workforce plan.

What is a “talent placement”?

The talent map (Annex A) uses talent placements to capture where you are in your career at this point in time. It should be determined in relation to your substantive position – not a position in which you may currently be acting.

Your placement is dynamic, and will evolve over time, depending on where you are in your current position and your career.

In no way does your talent placement prevent you from applying to advertised processes and networking to explore new avenues for career growth. Keeping in mind that candidates must still meet the official language requirement for the position.

There are reasons why “no placement” may be the best talent placement in a particular year – for example, if you have been absent from the workplace for an extended period of time. This reflects that you and your manager have not had enough time over the last year to determine a placement for you.

How does Talent Management work?

The process should begin with a discussion between you and your manager. The discussion would focus on your career aspirations, ambition, potential and readiness. Potential is often defined as a combination of ability, aspiration and engagement. In light of this discussion, your manager will propose a talent placement.

This proposed placement will generally be discussed by your management team, and ultimately, by the senior management table, chaired by the deputy head. These discussions provide an opportunity for your manager and his/her colleagues to speak to your strengths and opportunities for improvement. This feedback contributes to the final talent placement and provides your manager with important feedback for you. Through these discussions, some changes may be made to your talent placement or areas for development.

Deputy heads provide the final approval for all placements of Executives in their organization.

Following this approval, you and your manager should meet to confirm the final talent placement and s/he will share any feedback received through the process with you. The Directive on Performance and Talent Management requires managers of executives to complete annual talent assessments on all their direct reports and to communicate the talent assessment result to the executive (See: https://www.gcpedia.gc.ca/gcwiki/images/f/f4/Directive_on_Performance_and_Talent_Management_for_Executives_FINAL2.pdf).

Throughout, you and your manager will reflect on and capture information in the Executive Talent Management System (ETMS). More on this process is captured here.

When do these talent management discussions happen?

Timing varies by organization. The call out typically comes from the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer in September to begin discussions and update the information captured in the Executive Talent Management System.

In some large organizations, talent management discussions are held at mid-year and the DM/ADM review meeting is held in the late fall. Given the size of the EX community in those organizations, this allows for a focused discussion of talent placements. In other organizations (for example, Fisheries and Oceans), the talent management discussions may be held at the same time as the performance management year-end review discussions.

How do I prepare for my Talent Management discussion with my manager?

Take the time to prepare for your talent management discussion. Consider where you see yourself over the next year, and over the next 3 – 5 years. Where do you see an opportunity to further develop your skills and competencies?

Consider what learning and development opportunities could support you in achieving your career objectives. Pay attention to the feedback you are getting from your manager with respect to areas of development and reflect these in your learning plan. (For suggestions on what to include in your learning plan, you can explore the Info-APEX: Learning and Professional Development)

Be brutally honest with yourself. Seek insight into your “real” strengths. You may be the last person to know about your areas for improvement. Have frank conversations with colleagues you trust (could include your current or past boss, your peers, your team members) about your development and readiness for either a lateral or upward move.

Be clear about your comfort zone both in terms of a destination and in terms of timing for your next move. If you are interested in a different role or place to work, investigate first – find out their priorities, the demands and the culture of their organization. If you have questions, consider job shadowing to get a clear view on what you would be doing. Know the context of where you may be landing. Meet for coffee with people who work there. Know as much as you can about what you are signing up for.

Consider the timing. If you have recently been appointed to your current position, your focus for the next couple of years is likely to be on how to learn and deliver in that role, keeping an eye on your longer term goals through your learning plan. Before you decide if you are ready to move on, do a stress test on yourself. As you take on more senior roles, demands are very likely to increase. How does that align with the demands in other parts of your life? Is it the right time for you to be committing to a larger investment in your paid work?

Remember that these discussions happen every year. Because you are “well placed in role” this year, does not mean that you will be “well placed in role” for your entire career. It simply means that for this coming year, you are fully engaged and enthusiastic about your job and it provides you with opportunities for learning and growth. Next year, you and your manager can discuss whether that placement is still appropriate.

What happens to the information I provide?

The information collected from the on-line talent management questionnaire in ETMS informs the discussions of the executive talent in your organization and across government. The organizations senior management committee should give thoughtful consideration to the following elements when undertaking talent management discussions:

  • The organization’s needs: the identification of departmental skill shortages and gaps; review of critical positions at risk of being vacant and other vacant positions; the identification of successors;
  • The talent pool: identification of executive talent, emerging talent and readiness; confirmation of the talent placement for each executive; and
  • Matching the talent pool to the organization’s needs: key development opportunities for executives, within the context of current and future business requirements.

Is my information used only within my current organization?


The Committee of Senior Officials (COSO) uses information gathered through this process to support decisions regarding Assistant Deputy Minister succession planning and Executive Leadership Development Programs at their spring meeting.

For EX-04s and EX-05s, the information is used to inform and support the discussions that occur each March/April. Organizations are grouped into six clusters – Scientific, Central Agency, Security, and three blended clusters. Deputy heads and representatives from central agencies meet to review the overall talent pool, discuss individuals who are ready for movement (either lateral or advancement) and those who may be a good fit for vacancies or coming opportunities in other organizations. Individuals who are candidates for the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) EX-04 and EX-05 stream are also proposed.

For EX-03s, deputy heads meet at the fall cluster reviews to a similar end – to consider the overall talent pool, with a particular focus on those who are ready for movement (lateral or advancement) in anticipation of needs at the Assistant Deputy Minster (EX-04 or EX-05) level.

For EX-01s and EX-02s, generally the talent discussions happen at the organization level – again, the focus of the discussions tends to be on those ready to move (lateral, advancement or to a more suitable role). In some functional communities (such as Finance and IT), the conversation also can occur across organizations.

How is Talent Management information used?

Within your organization and in some cases, across the federal public service, talent placements can be used in the following ways:

  • your up-to-date placement and profile can be shared with managers who are looking to fill a vacancy
  • functional communities use information to plan for, recruit and develop talent
  • your personal information informs the identification of talent and diversity gaps, learning and development needs and opportunities, vacancy risks as well as strategies to address these elements
  • to identify participants for leadership development programs (such as the Executive Leadership Development Programs)
  • to inform selection and assignment decisions
  • to inform policy and program development.

Your information is valuable – both for you and for the community– providing insight into the nature and dynamics of the executive leadership team.

How will I know my final approved talent placement? I can’t see my manager’s comments and my placement in the Executive Talent Management System (ETMS).

You and your manager should discuss the outcomes of the senior management committee and your final approved placement. When completing your ETMS questionnaire, your manager attests that you have had a discussion about talent management. (The way the current system is structured does not allow you to see the comments input by your manager.)

It is your right to have access to any information about you, so if necessary, you can ask to have a copy of the information contained in ETMS about you either from your manager or through an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request.

What if I don’t agree with the placement?

Your manager recommends a talent placement that gets discussed at the senior management table and ultimately approved by your deputy head. Your manager can explain to you the rationale behind the placement.

Regardless of your placement, you are free to explore and pursue opportunities elsewhere if you believe you are ready for a change of position, keeping in mind the requirement to meet the official language requirement of the new position.

I am in charge of my own career and make my own decisions about where I want to work. Why should I participate in this process?

Participating in the process provides you with the best of both worlds. You can continue to make connections and seek opportunities for your next step on your own. At the same time, some opportunities may come to you.

Managing talent is a shared responsibility between you, your manager and your organization. You may be sought out by another manager — based on your placement, skill set and contributions to the organization to date – for a role you may not have anticipated or considered.

Talent management discussions also provide you with an opportunity to discuss areas requiring further development which can inform training and development you may want to include in your learning plan.

They also provide an opportunity to express interests in taking on additional corporate responsibilities.

As you become a more senior executive, you may be asked to take on a role where the public service needs you, rather than because you are looking for your next step. If you are an EX-4 or EX-5, you are subject to Consent to Deploy – which means the organization (defined broadly as the Government of Canada) can move you to a position where you are needed. And executives who are appointed (excluding acting appointments) or deployed into a position at the EX-01 to EX-03 level on or after April 1, 2020 will agree to being deployed as a condition of employment. Employees whose substantive position is at the EX-01 to EX-03 level on April 1, 2020 are not subject to this condition until they are deployed or appointed (with the exception of acting appointments) to another EX Group position or until April 1, 2022, whichever comes first. As is the case currently, employees whose substantive position is at the EX-04 or EX-05 level have already agreed to being deployed as a condition of employment (See: https://www.gcpedia.gc.ca/gcwiki/images/e/e3/Directive_on_Terms_and_Conditions_of_Employment_for_Executives_FINAL2.pdf).


Executive Talent Management


Executive Talent Management Framework


Key Leadership Competency Profile


Executive talent management process


Executive Talent Management Dialogue Tool


Executive Talent Management System (ETMS)


Directive on Performance and Talent Management for Executives


Annex A: Executive Talent Map

The placement of an executive on the Talent Map identifies his/her potential and readiness for new challenges by considering the key characteristics of ability, aspiration and engagement, as well as his/her willingness to take on these challenges.

  • The Talent Map is not a performance management tool.
  • Executives, including those acting in more senior positions or on assignment, should be placed on the Talent Map based on their substantive level


Ready for Advancement


Executive consistently and effectively demonstrates expected behaviours related to the key leadership competencies as well as the potential and desire for a more senior role. Promotion may be the best approach to maximize this executive’s contribution to the organization and/or public service.

Ready for Lateral Movement

Executive demonstrates the expected behaviours related to the key leadership competencies and has maximized his / her professional development in current position. Lateral opportunities would allow the executive to gain further breadth of experience, enhance skills, satisfy current aspirations and maintain engagement.

Well-Placed in Role

Executive demonstrates the expected behaviours related to the key leadership competencies and contributes to the success of the organization and / or public service. Current position continues to offer sufficient challenge to enable growth.

Develop in Role

Current position offers sufficient challenge and opportunity for the executive to develop the key leadership competencies and demonstrate his / her strengths and potential.

Move to More Suitable Role

Current position is not a good fit for the executive’s skills, competencies, abilities or interests. Another position may provide the opportunity for the executive to demonstrate his / her strengths and potential.

Move to More Suitable Role

Current position is not a good fit for the executive’s skills, competencies, abilities or interests. Another position may provide the opportunity for the executive to demonstrate his / her strengths and potential.

Transition to Retirement

Executive has communicated his / her intention to retire. A managerial, advisory or coaching role may be the best approach to maximize knowledge transfer and this executive’s contribution to the organization and / or public service.

No Placement

Should be used only in exceptional circumstances when the executive cannot reasonably be placed in any other category.
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