Future proof your organisation by managing your talent.

change is a good thing

Recruiting, nurturing and retaining the right talent in any organisation is tough. Full stop. Developing future leaders, succession planning, and keeping your best team members engaged and motivated are the building blocks every organisation needs to meet organisation objectives and strategic goals. If you don’t have the right talent in your team, especially in your leadership team, how can you take your organisation where you want it to go?

As we’ve seen our work focus increasingly on the healthcare and not-for-profit sectors it’s become clear to us that recruiting and retaining the right people at a senior level is a serious problem for these organisations. Our flexible model of working has been particularly successfully for these increasingly competitive, highly complex and often high risk environments, because we have helped attract a more diverse range of people who have both a passion for the sector and a commercial attitude.

So how can they continue to attract the ‘right’ people, and once they are on board how do they keep hold of them? What’s needed is a clear talent management strategy.

Healthcare think tank the King’s Fund highlighted last month that a third of NHS providers have at least one board level position not permanently filled, money is being wasted on expensive interim staff, the ‘churn’ of senior managers is high, and developing future managers is difficult.

Correspondingly research of senior staff in their partner organisations by Charityworks, a leadership development organisation for the charity sector, found that 70% felt that sourcing the best talent was not prioritised highly enough and that 60% of those surveyed said they fell into working in a charity rather than planning a non-profit career.

There is a demonstrable relationship between better talent and improved business performance.  Conversely, neglecting this key area of organisational planning is risky. Gaps in leadership leaves organisations open to strategic instability, financial waste, reduced staff morale and engagement, and ultimately a knock-on reduction in the quality of services provided.

Recruiting the right people, managing, nurturing and keeping staff motivated is key to an organisation’s ability to provide high-quality services. To reduce the risk to organisational viability, and nurture talent to become the leaders of the future a robust talent management strategy is key.

Actively putting in place processes that demonstrate the value you place on your people will make nurturing talent a core part of your culture.

What is a talent management?

“Talent management is a set of integrated organisational workforce processes designed to attract, develop, motivate and retain productive, engaged employees. The goal of talent management is to create a high-performance, sustainable organisation that meets its strategic and operational goals and objectives.”
The Kings Fund

Successful talent management is an ethos, and awareness of ‘how we do things around here’, and core to developing a compassionate culture. It must be related to the organisation’s vision and strategic objectives, be implemented in daily processes throughout the organisation as a whole and – most importantly – spell out how and why employees are valued.

There are three key components to a talent management strategy – each of them informs the other in a constant cycle of information gathering and planning according to your needs, goals and strategic direction. We’ll take you through them one by one:

Know what you’re recruiting for

  • Firstly, you need to understand your brand. What do you have to offer potential employees that makes you stand out from the crowd – what is your unique employee value proposition?
  • Understand what motivates potential employees. You might need to think about your recruitment process and how you appeal to different generations of the workforce because research shows that each generation have differing priorities. Current leaders – mostly from the ‘baby boomer’ generation may be mistakenly assuming that younger generations value title, status, salary and keeping up with peers in material terms as much as they do. In fact the generation after them – known widely as ‘generation X’ – values the overall package, with work–life balance seen as key along with opportunities for personal growth. In contrast ‘generation Y’ – currently aged 15 to 35 – values challenging work and strong development that fit their own highly individualised career plans and keen sense of self-worth.
  • Now look at what you need to achieve over the next 12 to 18 months. What is in your business plan? What skills and experience do you need to achieve this? These are your immediate recruitment needs.
  • Next examine your long-term goals with your whole organisation in mind because it is essential to recruit not just to meet your immediate needs but with your future vision and strategy in mind. Who stands out as having potential leadership potential? Which areas of the organisation needs bolstering to meet future demand?
  • When it comes to external recruitment, work with a recruitment company that invests in understanding your organisation and the values you are looking for in your employees, and ensure the best channels are being used to reach the right people.
  • Look at the diversity of your workforce and where there are shortcomings and room for improvement. The absence of women and ethnic minorities in senior positions is a concern but not the only one – diversity of thinking is just as important. Recruiting ‘mavericks’ who think and possibly behave differently from others will help support change and innovation. NHS organisations and not-for-profits have traditionally relied on people who have years of sector experience but in an increasingly competitive marketplace bringing in this diversity of thinking is essential.

Case study: Boots

When Boots, the high-street health and beauty retailer and pharmacy, decided to position its pharmacists in front-line health consultancy roles the company appraised the skills and attributes needed and changed how it recruits its pharmacists. Previously they looked for people who were highly technical and now they actively seek people who have excellent communication, consultation and relationship development skills.

Develop and retain talent

Once you’ve identified the right talent and are recruiting them, the next step is developing them.

  • First things first. Your leaders and managers at every level need to be committed to developing talent and must foster a culture where employees are valued for their contribution.
  • Make sure your on-boarding and induction of new employees is effective. Their first impression of you and your organisation is the most lasting so don’t mess this up.
  • Successful organisations invest time in engaging employees all the way through,so constantly ensure personal development plans and performance reviews happen, whether this is a formal or informal process. With personal growth and development if this isn’t in place the talent will be poached.
  • Performance management is key to giving you clarity on who you have in the organisation, what their potential, goals and aspirations are, as well as their limitations. This will help you have an awareness of who can be developed internally and where you need to recruit externally.

Succession planning

In the NHS the average tenure of a CEO is two and a half years and the role of finance director stays vacant for an average of five months.

Key people can leave at any time. All organisations need to be prepared to replace critical positions and skills. Once you do the work to improve your recruitment and development of talent as we suggest above, then you will already have a better awareness where the risk areas are and whether you have an adequate pool of talent at your disposal.

  • Identify the key positions and competencies that you will need to have a plan for replacing or covering. This could be due to retirement, natural attrition, or potential expansion.
  • Do you have people internally who are natural successors for these key roles? If not, you need to add this to your recruitment plan.
  • How deep is your talent pool? Do you have people with the capacity and potential to run new divisions or projects when the opportunity arises? Again if you don’t have this kind of talent internally you need to work out how to address this in your recruitment plan. If you are lucky enough to have the talent on board already, developing those people must form a key part of your development plans.

We hope this post has helped you understand the benefits of thinking outside the familiar box when it comes to resourcing and nurturing talent. Managing your talent effectively will future proof your organisation in terms of avoiding the risks associated with a neglected talent pool, so push those boundaries and be open to trying new tactics to get and keep the right people on board.

It’s tough out there and there is no doubt that in any sector the competition will be biting at your heels for the best people. Consciously planning how you will recruit, retain and develop future innovators, leaders and key skills, will help set you apart and give you the competitive advantage.

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