Maximise your talent: Research identifies key challenges for business

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The key challenges inherent in uncovering and managing talent within UK organisations have been identified in research published by the Chartered Management Institute and Ashridge Business School.  The challenges focus on how employers can develop individuals with high potential to ensure UK organisations compete in a global environment.

The research, called Maximising talent for business performance, provides employers with a strategic framework for delivering talent management programmes and outlines 18 dimensions affecting successful implementation.  Based on the views of 1,550 individuals and in-depth case-studies of 20 organisations, it also provides an insight into the reality of talent management in the UK today.

The research shows that the majority of individuals (84 per cent) want to be considered as talent or high potential by their employer.  Most believe that being identified as talent leads to better promotion prospects.  However, only 50 per cent of employers in the UK appear to have some form of talent management system (TM System).  35 per cent of respondents think their organisation has no TM System in place.
 

The findings indicate that challenges for organisations to tackle include:

Avoiding confusion:  the report suggests many employers confuse performance with talent management, using achievements to indicate future potential.  Yet only 31 per cent of respondents are confident that their appraisal system accurately identifies high-potential individuals.  A key question for employers, then, is how good a predictor past performance is for future success

Segmentation of talent: only 2 per cent claim their organisation regards everyone as talent.  It means employers need to assess which skills are business-critical on an ongoing basis, to keep staff motivated.  Options range from seeking high-performance, high potential individuals through to finding those with critical skill sets necessary for organisational growth

Finding future leaders: 34 per cent of respondents agree that a TM System should uncover individuals with future leadership potential.  The challenge for employers rests in identifying quiet achievers, with some respondents (15 per cent) suggesting individuals are identified if they play the system at work

Transparency of selection: 15 per cent of respondents claim they dont know if TM systems exist in their organisation and 60 per cent say selection is influenced by line-managers, or the senior management team.  The findings mean questions need to be answered about how open TM Systems are to ensure all employees accept the process as fair

Maintaining a diverse approach:  20 per cent fewer women than men, agree that their organisation has a selection process for talent, indicating that women still find it hard to break through barriers in the workplace.  One of the challenges for a successful TM system is the inclusion of individuals with different working styles or working needs, rather than focusing on corporate clones.

Mary Chapman, chief executive at the Chartered Management Institute, says: Even where talent management systems are in place, many employers fail to use them to drive performance and competitiveness.  If UK organisations are to succeed in a global environment, talent management systems should be aligned with business strategy.  Only then will the right talent be identified and nurtured to match the long-term growth plans of an organisation.

According to the report, measuring return on investment (ROI) for talent management remains a source of difficulty.  Wider research shows that only 68 per cent of organisations measure the contribution made by their employees*, leading this survey to identify potential measures of ROI.  These include the number of internal recruitments over time, the size of the talent pool and the achievement of performance targets.

Kai Peters, chief executive of Ashridge Business School, comments: Offering tailored development routes appropriate to individual strengths can help improve employee engagement and performance.  In determining success over the long-term, ROI measures should be appropriate and economical.  There is no point collecting costly data if it isnt fed back into the right areas. Equally, failing to collect information leaves organisations with no knowledge about the success or failure of their talent management system.

The report has been prepared by Dr Eddie Blass and supported by Accenture, Grant Thornton, Lloyds TSB, Network Rail and Waitrose.

 
* figure from Measures of workforce capability for future performance, July 2006

 Representing 73,000 individual managers and 450 corporate members, the Chartered Management Institute is the only chartered professional body dedicated to management and leadership. The Institute supports individual members with practical guidance on the issues that affect managers in their day-to-day working lives and, as the guardians of national standards for management and leadership, it is also in a unique position to work with employers to identify and develop the necessary management and leadership skills that drive performance in the UK and internationally.  Through its research and policy programme, the Institute also analyses and shapes the issues that matter to employers and individuals, using its knowledge in open communications with key policy makers and government departments responsible for skills development.  The Chartered Management Institute came into being on 1 April 2002, as a result of the Institute of Management being granted a Royal Charter.

Ashridge, one of the worlds leading business schools, is an independent, not for profit organisation. Its activities include open & tailored executive education programmes, MBA, MSc & Diploma qualifications, organisation consulting, applied research and online learning. In the latest Financial Times rankings for tailored executive education (May 2007), Ashridge is number one in the UK.

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