The development of talented employees can be one of the most profitable investments an organisation makes. As the achievement of long-term organisational performance primarily through a focus on people, it is fundamental to identify, nurture and, most importantly, retain talented personnel within an organisation.

Action Checklist

1. Develop a talent management system

Put a talent management system in place and embed it into a long-term business plan in order for the organisation to successfully select, develop and retain talented employees. As well as ensuring the identification of potential candidates for development, a well planned system demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to talent management and keeps ‘talent’ high on the corporate agenda. Identify relevant strategic perspectives to suit organisation requirements, for example, process, cultural, competitive, developmental, HR planning or change management perspectives. In order to identify leaders who will lead the business into its next phase of development, a consideration of the immediate, as well as the long-term needs of the organisation is essential. Don’t forget that individuals develop at differing rates and at different stages and keep late developers in mind.

Take a holistic approach to talent management by seeking individuals who will benefit the whole organisation. Make sure that expectations are clearly communicated to employees and that the policy is fair and reasonable. Don’t raise any expectations you will be unable to meet.

2. Work collaboratively

When formulating a cohesive talent management system, collaborate with all the parties whose involvement is crucial:
• support talent management from the top; the involvement of senior management and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to managing talent
• Human Resource Managers are at the forefront of attracting and recruiting talented employees
• Line Managers are responsible for the development and retention of talented personnel.
Working in conjunction with others ensures that the talent management system is effectively implemented to facilitate the internal growth of the organisation.

3. Recruit and select the right candidates for the right jobs

Identify talent for today and for the future, and select individuals who show the potential to grow. Select individuals who are willing to learn, who will listen, are open minded, have a strong people focus, can nurture, can be decisive and are able to communicate an organisation’s vision. Select people who will learn quickly and grow as leaders. Candidates should respect and adhere to the organisation’s values. Monitor the performance of possible candidates in their current role to provide an indication as to how they will perform in the future. Be aware of whether individuals are willing to be mobile, moving either within the organisation or to another geographical location.

4. Become an attractive employer

Becoming a desirable employer will help to attract good personnel. This is not just a matter of offering higher salaries and more extensive benefit packages than other employers, although it is important to pay a fair rate for the job. Factors such as an attractive working environment, regard for work-life balance, an ethical culture which promotes respect and cooperation, and opportunities for development and promotion are also crucial. This will assist not only in attracting talent, but retaining it as well.

5. Develop talented personnel

Foster and nurture the development of star performers. Engage with personnel by keeping them stimulated, challenged and also motivated.

There are various mechanisms organisations can employ in order to ensure that talented staff are developed and stimulated:
• support development by providing coaching and/or mentoring – consider the selection and use of an effective mentor for every talented performer – ideally someone from outside their line-management structure and with the skills, experience and reputation that would make them a credible source of guidance, support and challenge
• identify training needs that will provide the necessary criteria for continuing professional development
• offer professional qualifications which provide formal accreditation for an employee’s progress and achievements
• consider fast-track programmes by instigating accelerated routes to promotion as a method of recognition and stimulation
• management training schemes, project work, secondments, shadowing and transfers are a means of developing and broadening knowledge and enhancing variety and stimulation
• create attractive goals to aim for, such as admittance into an organisation’s talent pool
• facilitate networking opportunities.

6. Retain talented personnel

If a talented employee is an asset to your company then they will be valuable to competitors too. Therefore, once recruitment has been successfully achieved it is fundamental that the individual stays in your organisation. So how do you deter them from seeking new challenges with a competitor? All employees want to feel recognition for their contribution and know the organisation values them. Ensuring that employees feel appreciated will enhance their motivation and also commitment.

The attitudes and behaviour of direct line managers play a fundamental role and can provide a key to retaining and above all developing star performers:                                                                                                                                                                                      • Develop talent by providing the appropriate support and guidance.
• Provide frequent, constructive and honest feedback on performance to accelerate development.
• Line managers should identify an employee’s career drivers.
• Individuals should play a part in negotiating their own development needs and career paths.
• Set targets, both in the short and long-term so that a clear development route is evident.
• Identify areas for development and/or improvement to foster talent, ensuring that above all any skills gaps are adequately addressed.
Ensuring equality of opportunity and transparency over criteria for entry into talent and development programmes will complement diversity initiatives as well as supporting retention.

7. Devise measurement strategies

An investment of considerable effort, time and money in the selection, development and retention of talented staff is key. So as with any company outlay, it is important that the investment is appropriately monitored and recorded. Put measurement strategies in place to assess the Return on Investment (ROI). The evaluation methods should form part of the wider talent management system. Design suitable and economical metrical systems to effectively calculate your investment. Monitoring and measuring the performance of personnel through professional development reviews and associated appraisal schemes can assist with identifying gaps and above all recognise any additional training and support which may be required.

8. Utilise the talent management system

A successful talent management system can be an effective driver for change within an organisation. Recruit individuals who have the skills and vision to take an organisation forward and can act as change agents and use their unique skills and knowledge to make a difference. Over time, such individuals can therefore promote change by sharing their ideas amongst the existing workforce.

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