Developing Future Leaders

It’s the responsibility of the Human Resources Director to push a CEO into thinking about leadership capability within an organisation. While there may be operational fires to fight and short-term targets to hit, a chief executive must set aside time to reflect on whether the mix of skills in a business is right for the strategy.

Attendees at Criticaleye’s fourth Human Resources Director Retreat, held in association with Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), agreed that if a CEO is genuine about achieving long-term success, they must identify and develop leaders as a priority.

Andy Clarke, former CEO at Asda, told the audience that when he first stepped into the hot seat he prioritised staff development. “We needed new thinking and diversity, yet still had to develop a strong core of talent from within,” he said.

“I was also extremely mindful of the lack of diversity, so I managed to build a leadership team that was 50 per cent female. The level of debate differed – and I’m not just saying that.”

However, when two of those females were promoted, Andy realised there wasn’t a strong enough pipeline to continue that diversity. As a result, he spent a fifth of his time identifying and developing individuals both internally and externally.

“I did that in conjunction with the HR Director and it was impactful; we were a combined team,” he continued. “At the end of my tenure there was a much greater number of people coming up from within the company.”

Devyani Vaishampayan, Group HR Director at BSI, described how she is concentrating on the talent agenda as the assurance and compliance solutions company looks to double in size over the next two to three years: “The focus of the past was on operational execution – it’s why the leadership team has been successful – but we know we need more strategic skills within the business.”

She then advised: “You need to drive through a message to focus on the gaps that you see in regards to the forward strategy.”

The knock-on effect

As HR Director at Equiniti, Nicky Pattimore is also engaged in developing internal talent within the technology and investment services company. It floated in 2015 and the current leadership team are locked in with equity until October 2018.

“The board are now looking at future succession and we recognise that they can’t all be external appointments,” Nicky explains, noting that several people within the organisation have been identified as possessing senior leadership potential.

This ‘leadership group’ is expected to spend a quarter to a fifth of their time on some of Equiniti’s biggest projects, collaborating with those on the graduate and ‘rising stars’ programmes. “While this group work on these challenges, they must also look at their teams and use them to fill the gaps created when they step out of the day job,” she added.

During the course of the discussions, Charlie Wagstaff, Managing Director at Criticaleye, emphasised the importance of alignment between the CEO and HRD on this issue. “The HR director needs a comprehensive view of the capability within the organisation and how individuals can be upskilled for the future. To think only about the here and now, rather than the next phase of a business, is a mistake,” he said.

CEOs and senior executives have a responsibility to constantly improve their skills and knowledge, while also empowering and developing those around them. Benny Higgins, CEO at Tesco Bank. He noted: “The beating heart of any business is its people; they are the responsibility of everyone, not just the HR director.”

Matthew Dearden, former President for Europe at Clear Channel, built on this point and said: “Unleashing human potential is an inherent leadership responsibility. You can’t delegate or outsource that – although, you should look to the HR director for support.”

Problems occur when executives are overly egotistical, or become complacent because of success. “If you think you’re perfect, you’re done, because you’re doomed to never be better than you are today,” Matthew commented. “You need to embrace being imperfect and be honest with your colleagues, so you can support each other.”

Although it may take time, you should build people up to follow your lead and, eventually, take the baton from you. “You need to cherish, rather than worry about the fact that people are fine without you – that’s a sign that you’re building a good team and organisation,” Matthew concluded.

These views were shared at Criticaleye’s fourth Human Resources Director Retreat, in association with Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM).

By Dawn Murden, Editor, Advisory

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A Picture of Good Health

Promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace can be a tricky task. Aside from getting staff to actually use their gym memberships, leaders are increasingly aware of the psychosocial risks encountered in the world of work. With an ageing population and continued economic uncertainty, real attention should be paid to establishing programmes which can help people across an organisation, from frontline employees to the most senior executives.

According to a poll by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EASHW), over half of workers in Europe (51 per cent) believe that cases of work-related stress are common. In a separate piece of research conducted by the EASHW, it was estimated that the cost of work-related depression alone is €617 billion annually. This was made up of costs resulting from absenteeism, presenteeism, healthcare, social welfare and loss of productivity.

The good news is that more companies are realising that a healthy, happier workforce should make for a better business. Tom Wright, Group Chief Executive for charity Age UK, says: “Wellbeing has such a big impact on staff satisfaction, absence, retention, participation, innovation and organisational agility… The costs of not managing wellbeing are substantive but never well articulated. It’s not just reduced productivity, it can also affect the outputs, such as the quality of service.”

John Lewis, Chief Operating Officer for communication services provider Airwave Solutions, makes a similar point: “There’s a whole range of business performance metrics that it can affect. For me, we’re a very customer-focused organisation and if you have individuals who aren’t on top of their game that can often be reflected in the customer relationship.”

A welcome development from companies is that mental health is now being discussed more openly. Maria da Cunha, Director of People and Legal at British Airways, comments: “A lot of people think about wellbeing in quite narrow, physical terms, but psychological wellbeing, to my mind, still remains largely untapped [and] is equally important… It needs to stop being a taboo because it has such a big influence on people’s performance.”

Each year at energy company E.ON UK, an area is selected for its health and environment planning and in 2014 the focus was mental health. Dave Newborough, HR Director, says: “We’re aware of a growing incidence of absence due to mental health and it was also highlighted in our diversity survey feedback with our people feeling it impacted their development opportunities.

“Senior executives have been running workshops on sites entitled ‘Time to Talk’, giving people the opportunity to talk about mental health challenges. Increasingly, we find face-to-face discussions about mental health are well received among our workforce, whereas not so long ago there was a stigma attached to discussing openly mental health and stress-related issues.”

It shows how progress can be made. “As you can imagine, our ancestry is from engineering, power generation so safety is paramount in our culture,” says Dave. “But over time health has taken its place alongside it, rather than one being more important than the other.”

Adam Hodges, CEO for amusement and games concern Playnation, says: “We’ve introduced employee schemes, such as social committees, relaxation and breakout areas in the office, flexible roles, and… benefits such as discounted holidays and gym membership… We also have an Employee Assistance Programme which is a helpline that employees can call about work or personal issues.”

At British Airways, a wellbeing website or portal is due to be made available for employees. “It will help [them] take responsibility for their own wellbeing,” says Maria. “We can push messages out, and staff can do things like measure their health age [which is estimated through alcohol consumption, weight and other factors], or get nutrition advice. It’s also a place they can go to for advice. We’ve got about 80 people who volunteered to be wellbeing advisors.”

Back to basics

There is now greater emphasis on education for employees at all levels. Matt Stripe, Group HR director for food concern Nestlé UK and Ireland, explains that encouraging people to understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle is important: “Wellness is about ownership, it starts with the individual… It starts with getting people to care about themselves.”

Tom from Age UK says: “If you look at some of the long-term conditions that people develop, such as Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure… the risk is raised by a lack of exercise and poor health. Those can be improved by encouraging people to exercise more and have a better diet.”

The onus is on companies to promote awareness, both as a duty of care to employees and, on a more strategic level, to gauge the impact on the business. Matt explains: “In 2014, 10 per cent of our employees developed a life-changing illness, while 2 per cent were diagnosed with cancer. That’s out of 9,000, so that’s 900 people battling a life-changing illness. It’s a frightening statistic.”

Aside from putting programmes in place and encouraging people to talk openly, line-management and leaders need to reinforce this messaging by setting the right example. “It has to start at the top of the organisation,” adds Matt. “If those at the top don’t behave as role models then nobody will believe that it’s important.”

Adam of Playnation agrees: “If you don’t lead an awareness of health and wellbeing from the board, executive board and senior management team, it will never get introduced across the business. The regional and area managers won’t necessarily believe in it and it won’t filter down.”

While more needs to be done to help companies develop methodologies and approaches to gain a clearer view of the cost and impact of work-related stress and psychosocial issues, there are plenty of programmes that can be put in place to raise awareness of problems relating to physical and mental health. In some ways, it should be seen as part and parcel of managing enterprise risk.

As Dave says: “It’s one of those areas that we ignore at our peril… Wellbeing has to be a top table discussion and recognised in the context of overall organisational resilience.”

I hope to see you soon.

Matthew

www.twitter.com/criticaleyeuk

 

Winning & Retaining Talent in Asia

Comm update_15 Oct1

The biggest headache for many organisations operating across high-growth markets in Asia is caused by trying to find and keep hold of the best people. While there’s no failsafe plan to prevent quality employees moving on, there is a growing need to devise ways of building trust and loyalty that go beyond remuneration and financial incentives. After all, someone else will always be willing to pay more.

Marcus Downing, Associate Director at management consultancy Hay Group, highlights the scale of the problem: “There’s basically a talent shortage in many parts of Asia. Countries such as China and Vietnam have a massive amount of investment put into them but the human capital just isn’t there. You have the situation where, locally, people move jobs every [six to] 18 months and get a 92 per cent pay increase for moving…

“Companies in those regions are trying to hire the best of what’s available… they might fly in an ex-pat which is expensive and only a short-term solution; they might try and hire locally. But they are only getting what’s available, not necessarily the person that can do the job.”

Rose Colledge, CEO of employer marketing and talent management services company Work Group, says that “monetary rewards as well as career development are viewed as more important than other benefits, such as work/life balance and flexible working, particularly in China”.

Career development can certainly be used as a way to differentiate a business in a fiercely competitive labour market. Serge Colin, Group HR Director at construction supplier Lafarge Tarmac, comments: “If you want to bring in the best talent you need to expose them to senior level people during the recruitment process… introduce them to the top managers, so [it’s clear] they are being hired by the multinational.”

Howard Kerr, Chief Executive at standards and training provider BSI, says: “Good talent is often nervous about joining a foreign company that they’ve never heard of, so new entrants have to do an awful lot of upfront pre-selling and preparing the groundwork, explaining who they are, what the business prospects are, the style of the business and who their customers are… because it all comes down to a question of trust.”

According to Craig Wilkinson, Regional Managing Director for the Hong Kong-based LDC Asia, which is part of the UK mid-market private equity firm LDC, people and talent form “one of the toughest challenges” for companies entering the region. He explains: “A significant proportion of the workforce is mobile and prepared to move frequently for better terms – however, there is some caché associated with working for a foreign-owned business and we have found our portfolio companies… have been able to secure and retain good people.”

Facing the future

Cultural nuances need to be studied and understood. Brian Stevenson, Criticaleye Board Mentor and Non-executive Director of the Agricultural Bank of China, comments: “If you’re trying to head-off mistakes then you need to think about how senior executives going [there can] learn about the region, but also how they grow and develop a board that is culturally sensitive to how the region behaves and thinks, otherwise you won’t get the best out of it.”

Nick Allen, former VP of Strategy and Portfolio at oil and gas company Shell, says: “Status matters in Asia and a job title is a demonstration of this. I once lost a top talent in Singapore because he was moving from a President role in another company to a manager role in Shell. Financially it was a promotion but he wouldn’t take it because of the title… people would find out what his real ‘title’ was and he’d lose face.”

All too often, assumptions are made which prove misguided. Mei Wong, Affiliate Partner for Asia at executive search firm Warren Partners, provides the example of western companies giving senior roles to people who are returning back home to China after jobs abroad. There can be disproportionate expectations, says Mei, about their knowledge and ability as it’s easy to become out of touch with a “constantly changing and complex new China”, and such individuals may also have only held “relatively junior positions abroad but are given full responsibility to run the China operations”.

Conversely, dropping in people from HQ won’t provide a long-term answer either. Howard Thomas, Criticaleye Thought Leader and Dean of Lee Kong Chian School of Business in Singapore, comments: “Unfortunately, many foreign firms get into the practice of bringing ex-pats to fill key jobs in Asia as part of their global talent development programmes. As a result, local talent often jokes that they have a new boss every three years – year one is training the new boss, year two is helping them do something unique, and year three is packing them up to go home.”

Roger McDowell, Chairman of engineering company Avingtrans, says that, after six years in China, “the obvious answer to the ‘hiring’ question is not to hire senior people, but to build our own”. He explains: “We hire people with potential then give them challenges and the room to [develop]. To retain talent we keep our business growing faster than our people are able to grow… that stretches and excites their imagination and ambition. The business environment needs to be fun, exciting and [should show the] potential ahead.

“We rarely bring people in at a senior level – as an example, for our Aerospace business Sigma, our first employee recruited in 2005 is now [General Manager] of our facility employing 150 people… [We let people] prove themselves before they are promoted.”

Getting that degree of trust in people can take years to build and time is a luxury that the majority of companies invariably feel they don’t have. Poor hires will be made but if it becomes apparent that this has happened, the general rule is to act swiftly. “We see lots of companies who make recruitment mistakes and don’t do anything about it,” says Roger. “In Asia, if you make a mistake, don’t be proud: change things quickly and move on.”

Howard Thomas says: “Companies need to really understand the local customs and practices and consider how hiring is not only about obtaining talent, but also about building the right relationships for the success of the business.”

I hope to see you soon.

Matthew

https://twitter.com/criticaleyeuk

A New Model for Leadership

Comm update Faces - 20 augustTraditional leadership and development programmes are dead in the water. In order to identify and nurture individuals with real potential, a heuristic approach is required that is driven with passion and commitment by the top team and tailored to a company’s specific needs and values. It’s surprising how many organisations have failed to grasp this and remain hopelessly out of date in their thinking.

Howard Kerr, Chief Executive at standards and training provider BSI, comments: “Time is always the biggest barrier, but it can be about budgets too. The question might be: ‘Can we really afford to invest in another round of leadership development, where we’ll have managers off on a half-day course or taking time out for coaching others?’

“When the desire is to meet quarterly targets it’s very easy to get mired in the short-term and therefore lose sight of the bigger picture… [But] it’s the role of the CEO to make sure the organisation takes time to look further forward and develop its people, not just for the next job, but to ask instead: ‘Where could those individuals get to?’”

Mike Tye, CEO of Spirit Pub Company, has no doubts over who should be driving leadership development: “One of the few prime accountabilities of the role of CEO should be that there are enough good quality leaders in the organisation.”

A similar point is made by Craig Donaldson, CEO of Metro Bank: “CEOs should absolutely be at the heart of leadership development. That means being part of the programme, working with people that are identified on it to make sure they understand what is being put in place, challenging where necessary and making sure it’s all fit-for-purpose.”

New direction

Given how organisations are radically changing, what are the leadership traits needed to be successful?

“To me, what defines a leader is somebody that’s prepared to embrace a challenge,” says Howard. “Of course, it’s important that an organisation supports that person but it comes down to people accepting increased personal responsibility.”

For Craig, a strong character is essential. “I look for intellect, interpersonal skills and grafters. If you’ve got the skills and the right work ethic, you get on. That means people who are driven, challenging, and who are willing to push themselves and the business forward, but also people who’ll bring others with them – it’s very important that leaders have that ability – as once they’ve set the vision, others will follow.”

So the task is to devise programmes that bring these qualities to the fore. Ella Bennett, Human Resources Director for the UK and Ireland division of global IT systems and services provider Fujitsu, says: “We have a young entrant graduate intake which we see as having high potential at that point, then we have a group called Future Leaders, who may be in their first really challenging role, through to development that is focused more for senior leaders, who we’d expect to be sponsored by more [experienced individuals] within the organisation… The more senior you are, the more tailored the development.”

There’s also the question of understanding what works country by country. Anne Stevens, Vice President of People and Organisation at Rio Tinto Copper, says: “There is no point in trying to take someone in Indonesia, for example, through a formal… [UK] business school programme because it may not make sense to them. You need to be tuned in to the environment they are working in and there are very different requirements based on what the people need and what you need your leaders to deliver…

“The key point is knowing what it is you’re looking for. What is it that your business needs and how do you help your people identify with those competencies and develop them to build their leadership capability?”

Time and patience will be needed before the results can be appreciated. BB Roy, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at American Express, comments: “Some people are of the opinion that immediate and obvious successes will follow after rolling out [leadership] programmes. Developing a leader is not just sending someone on a course – it is a journey that combines many forms of coaching, so getting the content right is crucial…

“Once the goals are agreed the development team needs to clearly understand what the content and approach should be and ensure that this forms part of a continuous roadmap.”

Ruth Cairnie, Executive Vice-President for Strategy and Planning at Shell, says: “Historically there’s been a lot of focus on just going on a type of ‘sheep-dip’ leadership training programme for a couple of weeks, but you need a more experiential element to your development as a leader to really practice those core skills…

“The challenges that leaders face are ever more complex, so the set of skills that are needed must be honed. You can’t build strong collaboration skills, both internally and externally, in a classroom, you have to learn by doing. Whether it’s with customers, regulators, governments or suppliers, to really drive breakthrough opportunities and change you need to be able to build those relationships.”

Mix it up

A common theme to emerge is that individuals who show promise should be thrown into a range of different situations. Nandani Lynton, Criticaleye Thought Leader and Adjunct Professor of Management at China Europe International Business School, comments: “Overall, cutting-edge programmes need to be experiential and hands-on, exposing the participants to contexts, roles, information and interactions that are unusual for them.

“This engages their hearts and guts as well as their heads. It then needs plenty of reflection time and extremely good debriefing for participants to distil learning, apply it to themselves and their current challenges and – hopefully – to do a trial application of the learning.”

It’s about taking people out of their comfort zones. “One of the big things we do is involve [potential leaders] in critical business issues,” says Ella. “We’ll stretch them by putting them in cross-organisational projects, where they are involved in some of the nuts and bolts of the real issues that face leaders in the organisation…

“For example, there might be a particular issue around how we learn lessons both from bids that we have been successful on and where we were unsuccessful: how do we integrate those lessons back into the organisation? We have a group taken from across the business looking at those issues and thinking about how we might solve those problems differently.”

Gary Kildare, Chief HR Officer for Global Technology Services at IBM, says: “Our Corporate Service CORPS programme takes our leaders and potential leaders out of their day jobs for six weeks, puts them in groups of 20 and moves them around the world to work on a specific pieces of work, whether that’s commercial, charity, or with NGOs in emerging markets… It’s experiential leadership alongside their international colleagues, working with them in a locality to solve a real problem in the time that they are there.”

For the most part, a programme has to be practical as it’s the only way to discover how somebody reacts and adapts under pressure. Craig says: “You need to allow people to grow and put them into environments where you know they are going to be stretched and you can support them through it.

“For example, we’ve just made a 31-year old a Regional Director, which is pretty senior… We took him out of his day job and put him into a six month role where he received intense development in commercial lending. After three months, he’d done really well so we gave him the region to manage.”

Peak performance

Running a business would be easy were it not for people. It’s why the best companies invest and see the value in putting a structure around nurturing high performers. Others lag behind, losing employees and spending heavily on ineffective recruitment. They fail to see how putting time into individuals, so their business and people skills are set on a foundation of values-based behaviour, is a recipe for long-term success.

Yvonne Sell, Director and Head of UK Leadership and Talent at consultancy Hay Group, says: “One issue in many organisations is the availability and consistency of feedback that people can get on their leadership behaviours. It’s a lot easier to have a conversation about whether or not you met hard objectives, like delivering on sales targets, rather than assessing whether you managed your team in the right way…

“Organisations that do this well give a broad range of people the capacity to engage in leadership roles early on in their career. They understand that not everyone strives to be a leader and help people to recognise where they are going to be most satisfied and can do their best.”

Programmes have to come from the top, be customised, collaborative and embedded so that what’s learned doesn’t get forgotten once immersed in the day-to-day of regular work.

As Gary says: “Developing and having the right leadership talent remains one of the hottest challenges facing organisations today. It’s critical to have the full commitment of the senior leaders so they can be the role models of behaviour, to offer their time to be coaches and to be personally invested in the future of the business through the development of new leaders.”

I hope to see you soon.

Matthew

https://twitter.com/criticaleyeuk

Time to Get Creative about Talent

Comm-update-06-03-13-web

Companies need to be bold about how they tackle talent. In order to identify the weak links, high performers and future stars, there has to be more joined-up thinking between HR, the executive team and beyond. There is a strong argument for organisations to have flatter structures which allow for better integration, alignment and a greater understanding of the diverse range of skills needed to drive success.

Finding the right people is continuing to prove difficult in competitive and fast-changing markets. “While it sounds simple, often businesses get themselves into situations where they have to react very quickly because they haven’t properly planned for those emerging yet necessary skills, which requires some good insight and analytics,” says Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Gareth Jones, Group HR Director at institutional and retail fund manager M&G Investments, comments: “The challenge is in recognising that you don’t always know what the future looks like that you are preparing people for. Therefore, adaptability is one of the key things we’ll look for in people, which we also look to nurture through our leadership and talent programmes and the mentoring process…

“The whole aspect of people management has become far more critical. If you talk to our senior fund managers they will tell you that a key part of their role is to develop talent, so the ownership has shifted away from something that HR initially took a lead on, to being embedded within the way the business thinks about what it needs to succeed.”

Companies need to be smarter about how resources are deployed. Catherine West, Head of Global Reward and Organisation Design at World Duty Free, says: “A simpler solution is required that enables line management to practically take ownership of talent management as well as HR… [while] also finding a way to influence managers to be open about relinquishing their own high performers to somewhere else for the greater good of the company.”

A more open and organic approach is needed. Ursula Morgenstern, CEO of IT provider Atos UK, comments: “While we make sure we focus on hiring tomorrow’s talent through our graduate programme, we complement that by bringing in specialists or working with our partner suppliers, because you cannot always get the right talent internally. Working with experts in this way helps us while we are re-skilling our own organisation, because there will be talent available in those niche suppliers, small development houses and consultancies which we can hire in for projects and our internal staff can learn from them.”

Dominic Emery, Chief Development Officer at BP Alternative Energy, says: “We need to be in a position to react to changes in the market. Within our corporate venturing area, for example, the main change we are progressing is to move away from pure cleantech technology venturing, given current IPO and general market performance. We are now securing capable people into our team who know more about venture capital and corporate venturing in the core BP businesses: oil and gas.”

“By having people with transferable financial and commercial capabilities, such individuals are able to move within the team as our investment strategy changes to support one technology over another.”

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Forward thinking

Planning for the future can be problematic when you’re unsure what’s going to happen next week in your industry, but it’s imperative that the skills required for a business to be successful in the years ahead are thought-out.

Ian Wright, Corporate Relations Director at Diageo, says: “You want the right talent for the future, rather than the talent that’s necessarily got you to where you are. This is a particularly tough challenge for smaller companies because the need to modulate and change has to be balanced against the disruption of making that change, and the potential lost experience of those that move aside in order to create those opportunities…

“There’s also the very real fear of getting it wrong. That’s why you can’t do this on instinct and you must have a really cold-eyed assessment of what you think you will need over a three to five-year time horizon.”

Ursula says that the company is obsessive about examining what skills will be needed as technology evolves over the next five, ten or 20 years as it helps to make informed decisions about how to map out where to specialise and what is likely to become obsolete. “That’s something we constantly monitor in our organisation,” she says. “While it’s never an easy thing to achieve, the art of talent management is to do it continuously.”

Without question, there has to be some hard analysis. David Turner, CEO of Webhelp TSC, an outsourced contact centre company, says: “We plot our management talent on a version of the Boston Matrix, which looks on one scale at performance and on another scale at potential… we’re looking for those that fall into the top boxes as forming our talent pool, which makes up about 15 per cent of our people.

“But we’re always looking at the bottom quintile of our business too, which makes up about 20 per cent, and the norm is that about a quarter of the people in that quintile just never make it. You have to be honest with those people and admit that, while you can coach and mentor them, you’ve probably not got the right behaviours in that bottom quintile to be able to move them on.”

Gary Kildare, Chief HR Officer at IBM’s Global Technology Services in New York, says: “Growing talent has to be deliberate, considered and planned. It doesn’t work if it’s random or ad hoc. Retraining and re-skilling of current resources also has a role to play and, if done well, in time and in the right way, an investment in retraining can help engagement and keep recruitment costs in check.”

When it comes to identifying the high performers within the organisation, there has to be involvement from the top. Lucy Dimes, UK CEO of telecoms concern Alcatel-Lucent, comments: “Companies can often be quite mechanistic about talent identification and management. I’ve found it’s as much about making sure you’re spotting the right people and personally engaging with them to enhance their emotional engagement.

“In my experience, having come through a talent pool myself, it’s rarely about money and more about feeling that the company has plans for you and that your ambitions are more likely to be realised by staying than going.”

It’s why retention plans and development programmes help to keep people if their ambitions aren’t going to be realised as quickly as they would like. “People need to feel it’s worth the commitment,” adds Lucy. “You do this on a personal level by talking with them, sponsoring them and through active mentoring.”

Moving target

Businesses are struggling to get their talent strategies right because to do so is complex and the answers are constantly changing. For smaller companies, it can require an enormous gamble and for larger ones there will invariably be years of cankerous legacy issues to clear away.

And yet, the question of effective talent management is going to haunt businesses until they are more creative and innovative when engaging and developing their employees (this includes succession planning for the top team).

“As chief executive, you need to decide whether you see people development as a cost or an investment. I have always felt it is an investment… but you must also have a culture that commits investment toward growing and managing talent,” comments David.

Peter says: “If we can’t recruit oven-ready employees then we’ve got to do a much better job of building the skills we need inside the organisation and this is a critical area of strategic focus for businesses in the future.”