Any organisation intent on survival today must master the art of nurturing ‘talent’, the people in the words of the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development (CIPD), who can ‘make a difference’. But should you run programmes in house or bring in external professionals? Should you elicit the help of a top business school? The stakes are high, get it wrong and your best and brightest may move on, taking potential future growth and profits with them.
Figures from the CIPD show that 95% of UK organisations rate in-house programmes as the most effective method. Such programmes can include formal training, secondments, project work, coaching and mentoring with an experienced senior manager.
Standard Chartered Bank put their graduates through a two year programme, which provides training in technical knowledge, leadership development, team building and listening skills. Line manager’s work with individuals and progress is regularly assessed. Everyone gets development but ‘high potentials’ get more and move through ahead of their peers if they continue to perform well.
Individual performance and development objectives are agreed by each employee with their manager and performance against these objectives are formally reviewed at least twice a year. Some organisations link objectives to bonuses too.
While this approach may be appropriate for graduates, high flying middle and senior managers need a different more personal approach. Many organisations use internal or external coaches with the aim to develop their capacity to think about the future, their motivation and their ability to lead and deliver results.
However it is also important to encourage high flyers to take responsibility for their own careers by ensuring they have a personal development plan that identifies who is responsible for what. It is important so learning is shared with their teams and retained. Many organisations fail to do this.
Bear in mind too, that today’s merging talent has a low boredom threshold. If generation ‘y’ers’ do not get what they want they will probably go elsewhere. So how do you set goals that will maintain their interest? Ultimately talented people need constant variety and challenge. To keep up momentum, some business schools and other course providers have shortened their development programmes from three years to 18 months and typically balance learning modules with challenging assignments and projects.
Hot talent expect to be fast tracked. These days that may mean an international assignment or high profile project rather than a linear step up the ladder. Even traditionally bureaucratic public service organisations are learning to respond.
For example, Helen Dudley leads a team in Cabinet Office responsible for Civil Service Talent. Her focus is predominately on the talent management of the Top 200 civil servants and ensuring a healthy pipeline for top posts.
It can be concluded that nurturing talent is a complex business. Research from the CIPD suggests that in house programmes are most effective and these need to be a mix of different interventions that develop the right skills, capabilities and experience but also provide high flyers with a range of challenges and achievements.