Talent: play to your strengths

UK companies run the risk of slipping behind global competitors if they fail
to focus on improving through the talent of their people.

Many businesses understand the need to develop and nurture top talent but,
according to the CIPD Global Leadership Forecast 2008/09, accountability lies
mostly with the HR team and junior managers. Only 19% of UK senior managers are
held accountable, while in global companies this rises to 36%.

Most business leaders are aware of the old adage ‘you get what you measure’
and this can explain why there appears to be failure in companies’ ability to
ensure that effective leadership development takes place.

The CIPD found that 64% of UK companies felt improving or leveraging top
talent was a number one priority for their business. To achieve this then
overall accountability must move to senior managers.

This is the most effective way to ensure that talent management is taken
seriously by the company and enables business priorities like improving customer
service and maintaining growth in increasingly competitive markets to take

Senior management can be held accountable in a number of ways. The most
effective include:

  • Align accountability for talent management to salary and bonus schemes;
  • When senior managers report to the board on their functional
    responsibilities like growth targets, talent management has an equal amount of
  • Ensure that senior management are not promoted unless there is a successor
    readily available;
  • Ensure talent management is addressed as a senior management team, not just
    an individual manager’s responsibility; and
  • Enable the HR team to hold senior management accountable to promote talent
    management as well as the board.

These measures are designed to ensure that senior management remains focused
on developing top talent as a key area for the business. These managers are most
able to define key talent’s career opportunities, morale and ability to perform
for the company via their direct control or patronage. If this is used well then
the company is more likely to achieve its strategic objectives.

Judith Germain is a leadership consultant

Related reading

aidan-brennan kpmg
The Practitioner