Talent – An Organisational Health Check

How many Talent programmes has your organisation got? Is it clear what they all do, how they all fit together, who they are aimed at? Are they meeting the strategic needs of the organisation?

In my experience organisations often have a variety of talent programmes in place which appear to be working well (they are well attended), so remain part of the 'staple' menu on offer. They become the 'way we do talent here' and we forget to challenge if the programmes are still relevant and are meeting the changing needs of our organisation. 

Talent programmes cost money, the wrong talent programmes can ultimately cost jobs and sink the company, not just because of the money and time sunk on the wrong initiatives,  but because the skills and behaviours being taught are old, tired and lack relevance to the organisational strategy.

 10 Questions to ask....

...to check the health of talent initiatives in your organisation.

  1. Is our Talent Strategy based on a Fixed or Growth Mindset?

What does Talent mean in our organisation? Is our approach based on a fixed mindset (a belief that it is only worth developing the chosen few - high potential people), or a growth mindset (all our people have the potential to stretch and grow)? How is this evidenced in the programmes we offer?

  1. What skills and behaviours are important to us now and in the future, will they deliver the strategic outcomes we desire?

What changes are happening in our industry? What legislative, economic, social, technology, process and information needs are changing? How are our talent programmes meeting these? How can we prove we are meeting these and delivering on strategic objectives?

  1. What skills and behaviours are our competitors developing?

Are we information hungry enough to stay ahead of the game? How well are we keeping abreast of what similar organisations are doing and working out why and what it means for our own skills requirements?

  1. What skills do our people have that we don't know about but need?

Are we having conversations with people in the corridor, in the coffee queue, at the water cooler? Do we know what skills they have beyond those required for their current job and how we can utilise these in our business?

  1. How effective is knowledge transfer across our business?

Do our managers talk talent effectively, do they nurture it? Do they identify learning needs as they arise and monitor the application of learning? A talented person who can grow skills in others is of more value to the organisation than one who is only able to apply their own skills. Do we recognise and reward this fact?

  1. How much informal learning takes place, is this encouraged by our physical infrastructure and culture?

We need to be careful that our culture, building infrastructure and office layout do not remove the natural gathering points which could encourage informal conversations and learning. Are people who gather in excited huddles to discuss new ideas encouraged or frowned upon?

  1. What myths exist about the value learning and talent brings to our organisation?

Is learning seen as a fundamental component of our work, or as a luxury ‘add on’ when time allows it? Are our Talent programmes aimed at ‘bright young things’ or do we actively seek talent across the entire workforce? Do our people take personal responsibility for their own career progression or rely on managers to do it for them. Do those on our talent programmes assume that this is a guarantee of a fast track to board level - if so such assumptions need to be challenged!!

  1. Do we know what attracts people to our organisation and what is keeping them here?

Organisations which over-promise talent programmes on their recruitment information (and websites), then under-deliver in reality, breed discontent in newly appointed staff; resulting in a revolving door effect as they rapidly exit for better prospects.

  1. Are we stuck in a rut serving up the same old same old?

The danger of successful talent programmes is that we get complacent. We end up with too many people with the same skill set and ignore the need for new skills (or say we can't afford to invest in new programmes). Do we know when we have reached saturation point?

  1. Why are people leaving us?

Do we use exit interviews or exit questionnaires? Is the output of these ever put to really good use? Often they are part of a process and once completed the outputs are filed and the file closed. What are they telling us we should be doing differently, what evidence do we have we are acting on them?

 Hope this has given you some ideas!