Protecting your Emerging Talent


The need for developing solid talent management programmes has intensified. Delay and you run the risk of losing out. Get it wrong and it can be equally damaging.


Kevin McAlpin


If you’re losing sleep over just how your company will find the people who will ensure the future of your business then you have every right to, because talent is in increasingly short supply.


Getting the right people through the front door of your organisation is just the start. You then have to work out how to keep them. If not, your recruitment efforts could be for nothing if those with the greatest potential decide to take their potential to your closest rival.

But get it right and you could be in for a bonanza. Research demonstrates that companies with enlightened talent-management policies have higher returns on sales, investments, assets, and equity.

The problem for today’s companies is talented people are well aware of their privileged position. Akin to top-flight players, gone are the days typified by Trevor Booking (one of English football’s greatest midfielders), who spent his entire career at one club, and gone are the days where talented individuals spend their careers at one company. They say that royal heirs are usually content to wait for their turn to rule these days; corporate heirs do not have that kind of patience.

Degrees of Excellence

One area companies have particular difficulties with is their emerging talent — those people who have just joined the organisation, often out of university, says Andy Daley, talent management expert at Performance Coaching International (PCI).

“Large organisations spend a lot of time and money recruiting and developing graduates,” Andy says. “They go through a development programme, maybe over 12-18 months but then get lost in the organisation.”

From the moment they come on board you need to think about taking your emerging talent and turning them into leaders.

“If you don’t develop and support your talented staff, loyalty decreases and then the head hunters come in. Suddenly you have issues around staff morale, customer satisfaction and your organisation’s results,” he said.

You need to give potential high fliers a greater understanding of where they are going in the longer term and build action plans to work out how they are going to get there, according to Andy.

“Help them prepare for the transition from a typical manager, doing a good job, to becoming a leader and an ambassador of people, who will take the organisation into fresh new places,” he said.

But this is easier said than done; if you get this talent management programme wrong it could be as bad as doing nothing at all.

“Organisations have a habit of badging people and saying: ‘We think you have the potential to go a long way’,” Andy said. “But what does that mean? The individual feels an initial sense of pride but organisations then struggle to put a package together.”

“Two things can then happen: either these people go up through the organisation and reach a leadership position but don’t have the skills for that so they get found out and then managed out. The alternative is they get resentful and leave before this happens.”

A Programme of Partnership

With a simple programme in place, those with emerging talent can be given greater potential and a reason to stick with your organisation. If you don’t do it, you can be sure someone else will.

“Talented people don’t just want a short-term reward — like a £1,000 pay rise, they want to feel they are in a partnership,” Andy said. “Through this process you will make them think they are working hard and you are doing something to match that.”

Andy outlined the steps organisations can take to get ‘easy wins’ from talent management:

  • Identify — pick out the people you believe have a reasonable chance of achieving a director’s position in the future, whatever their age
  • Inform — let them know they are the people you really want to keep
  • Package — put a package together for them that delivers on your promises – actions need to speak louder than words. If they have been told they are important but are not given anything then their loyalty will drop
  • Action — once you have delivered the package you have to actively manage the outcomes of the training so it becomes action-orientated. Give them 3-5 key actions they are going to complete over the next 12 months or so.

The information needed to help them make the transition to leader includes key issues such as:

  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Spiritual intelligence
  • Resilience
  • Action-orientated planning
  • Feedback
  • Clarity around where you want to end up
  • 5-10 year plans
  • Developing a network.

Taking these steps could mean a big pay-off for your organisation. Not least that it will fulfil your primary aim of keeping hold of those who are the future of the business. It will also allow you to create an internal talent market across departmental silos. You will be able to pinpoint just who you already have internally with the skills to fill any vacancies and this in turn will save you large recruitment fees — often up to 40% of the salary of the person you are recruiting.

With this kind of talent pipeline in place, it could mean you don’t need to fight a war for talent – just a few small battles to get the odd new person in as and when you need it. Let your rivals get bogged down in the trenches.

Protect, Develop and Thrive

Dealing with the challenges of retaining and nurturing the talent within your organisation can be tough. But, by taking into account current needs and future directions, and unleashing your people’s potential in the right way will bring huge rewards.

Explore the Emerging Talent Programme