Talent is precious

  • To maintain that competitive edge over your rivals
  • To avoid costly recruitment mistakes
  • To encourage staff to further their careers with you and not elsewhere
  • To have that succession plan ready so you’re not left high and dry when your highest fee earner is headhunted

To me, talent management starts with mapping the skills and knowledge requirements of the business; it includes recruitment and selection, performance management and development activities; and it culminates in succession planning. Organisations that do actively manage the talents of staff strategically, will reap the benefits in terms of performance.


  1. Think strategically
  • Most organisations focus on recruiting talent for the here and now spending much less time thinking about the bigger and long-term picture – what talent might be required 5-10 years from now.
  • Use performance management and appraisals to find and develop talent for the future.
  • Retaining talent is clearly the ultimate goal, but people do move on, and organisations need to be prepared. Make succession planning proactive, rather than simply reactive when you know you face a vacancy. A big part of this will be ensuring that your management and leadership teams understand the value of talent management and support the underlying activities.


  1. Recognise talent, whether sexy or not

Talent in administrative and support functions (often seen as costs) is as important as it is in high profile, technical, creative fee earning or revenue-generating roles. Whether it is high-level negotiation skills or customer care on reception, value all talent. An organisation closing a plant in the UK was surprised to find that some of its factory staff had built houses, run photography businesses and built ocean-going boats all in their spare time. Are transferrable talents going unnoticed? Perhaps.


  1. Recruit people skills

Functional and technical talents like sales, IT skills and science are often easy to spot. Recognising people talents in managers, not always. You need managers who can get the job done, but crucial to this is motivating, inspiring and supporting teams to achieve without supervision or close management. The CIPD regularly reports that talented managers and leaders are difficult to recruit, and this gets harder with seniority. Talented people managers will understand and recognise talent in others, are more likely to encourage it, and so set the culture that values talents.


  1. Be creative to un-earth talents

A lady I know with dyscalculia, had, as she put it ‘a talent for cocking up anything financial’.  When one day she tried her hand at credit control, she found that she had a real talent for it – because of her exceptional interpersonal skills. Both the organisation she worked for and she herself had been constraining her ability to succeed.  She now heads up a credit control division for a large financial institution and is happily sharing her talent with others. Secondments, shadowing and inter-departmental project teams are all ways to highlight latent or embryonic talents. Most organisations will use talent when, as here, they stumble upon it.  Some organisations don’t even recognise that they have stumbled upon it.


  1. Take development seriously

Like all skills and abilities, talent needs nurturing. Investment in skills, competencies and talents is critical for any business.  It is also one of the most vulnerable budgets when times are tough. Organisations with good talent management procedures, including development activities, will recognise impact on the bottom line and will find it easier to recruit talent.  Graduates and those with MBAs and PhDs all look with great interest at development opportunities in prospective employers.


  1. Manage performance – when it’s great, acceptable and poor

Frequent, focussed and well-managed one-to-one and team performance reviews will benefit everyone:

  • Managers learn more about their staff and so are better placed to spot talent and help them succeed.
  • Everyone gets recognition for their effort, success and input.
  • Poor performance can be spotted more quickly.
  • High achievers can be recognised and rewarded.
  • High potential individuals can be spotted and fast-tracked.
  • Maverick behaviour (a danger when developing talents and high potential) can be brought back into line more easily.
  • Talent can flourish.
  1. Create your own talent pool

Good talent management strategies should generate talent pools.  Even if you don’t currently have the opportunities, aim for a ‘waiting list’ of individuals with the talents you will need in the future – from inside and outside the organisation.


  1. Plan to succeed

Succession planning is about growing or recruiting the right talents to deliver your business plans.  Who are your key players of the future?  Who has the right talents to create success across your business?  It also means helping some people leave the business.  Sometimes these are the people we would like to keep. However, if it is right that they go, help them go on good terms, and they’ll do wonders for your employer brand and your ability to attract talent. Talent Management | Factsheets | CIPD Steve Read © Copyright The Helix Consultancy Ltd