Most people agree that companies need a fair balance of home grown talent as well fresh blood to maintain the talent pool.  However, is your company clear about what it means by talent and what characteristics the organisation is looking for in a talented individual?

One way to do this is to consider first what it is that makes the business successful.  For example, a business might be successful because of the innovative new products it develops for its markets.  If this is the case then the next step is to think deeply about what drives outstanding performance in those jobs.  Care and thought is needed here, and it should be based on firm evidence, not just assumptions.

Once the business is clear about what talent is and what makes a talented individual, the next step is to find out what talent you have, as sometimes your talent may be hidden in your organisation.  On way of helping managers to understand the talent they have is to use assessment centres, to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and development needs of potential talent.  The assessments might include psychometric and ability testing, 360 feedback as well as a range of other activities.  The results of the assessments can be reviewed by a panel of managers from across the organisation and decisions made about who should be identified as talent and what further development support might be needed.

However attractive internal promotions may be, external recruitment may be the only way to build your talent pool if the organisation has a number of gaps.  However, external recruitment is more uncertain than internal promotion, and therefore companies need to ensure that they have effective and sophisticated recruitment processes to minimise risk.   Nevertheless, significant factors in the success of an individual in their role will be down to characteristics such as working habits and personal character, and these are much harder to assess than academic or professional qualifications.

It is important therefore to use a range of techniques to gain the necessary evidence.

Again, assessment centres can help by putting candidates through live exercises and scenarios that represent what their role will entail.  Interviews can then be used to explore how the individual performed in the different tasks and whether there were any mitigating circumstances if they performed badly.

The most successful companies have a good balance of home grown talent as well talent recruited from other organisations.   However, it is vital that organisations are clear about their definition of talent and the characteristics of talented individuals.