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How to identify and develop top talent

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Strug­gling to iden­ti­fy top talent?

High­ly tal­ent­ed staff are like gold dust. We know that your organ­i­sa­tion will be keen to find them, nur­ture their poten­tial, and keep them with you through ded­i­cat­ed devel­op­ment pro­grammes and height­ened access to oppor­tu­ni­ties. But how do you iden­ti­fy your high poten­tial tal­ent in a robust, evi­den­tial and non-biased way in the first place? 

This is a ques­tion which has chal­lenged HR lead­ers for a long time. The appar­ent­ly sim­ple solu­tion – the per­for­mance rat­ing — doesn’t real­ly help dif­fer­en­ti­ate per­for­mance, it is prone to rat­ings and recen­cy bias, and is gen­er­al­ly so dis­liked by man­agers and employ­ees that many organ­i­sa­tions have turned to increas­ing­ly com­plex for­mu­la­rised solu­tions to iden­ti­fy top performers.

Whether this is based on busi­ness KPIs, objec­tive com­ple­tion rates, or 9‑box grids, these meth­ods are often lengthy and over­ly com­pli­cat­ed, and take sig­nif­i­cant amounts of data and com­pa­ny resources to main­tain and devel­op. They can involve time-con­sum­ing process­es and cal­i­bra­tion ses­sions, and result in their own issues over fair­ness, data qual­i­ty and transparency. 

The process of iden­ti­fy­ing top per­form­ers is often so con­sum­ing that you may even go so far as to iden­ti­fy top tal­ent, telling them they have fit the cri­te­ria for this, but then have lim­it­ed resources or ener­gy to make this mean­ing­ful through pro­grammes of activ­i­ty or real recognition.

Sound famil­iar? Well we think there’s anoth­er way.

Our answer

We think it’s as sim­ple as ask­ing man­agers three yes or no ques­tions about each of their employees:

  1. Does this per­son have a proven track record for accom­plish­ing impres­sive per­for­mance results AND have the poten­tial to make sig­nif­i­cant fur­ther progress in their career?
  2. Would there be sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive impact for the team / busi­ness if this indi­vid­ual left?
  1. Does this per­son have the per­son­al desire and dri­ve to be Top Tal­ent (are they will­ing and able to progress their career rapid­ly via tar­get­ed devel­op­men­tal experiences)?

If the answer to all three ques­tions is yes, then you may have a top per­former in your midst. You can then answer a fourth and final question. 

  1. On bal­ance, tak­ing into account all these indi­ca­tors, do you rec­om­mend them as High Poten­tial Talent?

These should be easy enough to answer if man­agers have been hav­ing reg­u­lar check-ins with staff through­out the year, this way they can com­pile the data stored on Clear Review into a Per­for­mance Snap­shot. Using this Snap­shot man­agers will be able to see a clear overview of per­for­mance, feed­back from oth­er mem­bers of staff and if goals have been met. 

It is impor­tant to remem­ber that not all tal­ent looks alike. Top tal­ent in a sales role will look dif­fer­ent to top tal­ent in a sup­port role, or an admin role. You may find your top tal­ent some­where you weren’t expect­ing, be open mind­ed to find­ing those who can help your organ­i­sa­tion suc­ceed in dif­fer­ent ways. 

What next?

So now you’ve iden­ti­fied your top per­form­ers, what are you going to do with them? At this point you need to think about what is best for the employ­ee. You want to encour­age and sup­port them to devel­op and to reach their poten­tial, but keep in mind this might not be the best thing for them at this moment in time. Talk to them, find out where they see their career going, how they would like to progress and sup­port them in the ways that will be gen­uine­ly help­ful to them, and there­fore to your organisation. 

For those employ­ees who do want to focus on devel­op­ment and pro­gres­sion, you can now put a plan in place with them, their man­ag­er and the HR team that will sup­port them to do so. This could involve more respon­si­bil­i­ty at work, more men­tor­ing time with their man­ag­er, attend­ing cours­es to boost their skills and knowl­edge etc. 

Ensure you set a clear per­son­al devel­op­ment plan (PDP) to go with this, that way when employ­ees have check-ins with their man­agers they can dis­cuss the progress they have made, if it is going well, or if they need help to get back on track. 

Why is iden­ti­fy­ing and devel­op­ing top tal­ent important?

Retain­ing your high poten­tial staff is key to the long-term suc­cess of your organ­i­sa­tion. In an arti­cle by The Bal­ance Careers they explain Man­agers read­i­ly agree that keep­ing your best employ­ees ensures cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, increased prod­uct sales, sat­is­fied, hap­py co-work­ers, and effec­tive suc­ces­sion plan­ning and his­tor­i­cal and insti­tu­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion­al knowl­edge and learn­ing.’ In order to keep top per­form­ers, it is impor­tant to recog­nise them, to show them their work is appre­ci­at­ed, and pro­vide them with the sup­port they need to flour­ish. If not, they will more than like­ly take their tal­ent to anoth­er organ­i­sa­tion who will! 

To find out more about how you can use Per­for­mance Snap­shots in your organ­i­sa­tion, reg­is­ter here, to view our exist­ing blogs and videos, and be noti­fied of new con­tent releas­es on this subject. 

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