Seven Steps to Grow From Within

Posted by Rob Caul in CPD on Mon, 01/09/2012 – 08:00

  • Organisations must invigorate their preparations for the future by investing in their key talent
  • Growing from within delivers clear business benefits
  • Talent mobility opens the door for individual growth
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Rob Caul, CEO of e2train and 81Boxes, provides seven steps to help organisations grow from within.

Never before has there been such a critical need for organisations to invest in growing their own talent. Globalisation, the changing demographics of the workplace and the rise of technology are all impacting the skills that are essential to business performance today and in the future. A growing body of research points to an increase in skills shortages from leadership positions to individuals in specialist roles across core business functions, and the situation is only going to get worse in the next few years as a growing number of the workforce reaches retirement age. Very few organisations have been immune to the impact of the economic downturn.

From downsizing initiatives to cuts in learning and development budgets, today’s talent pools are drying up and need more high potential candidates with the core skills and confidence to drive forward long-term business growth. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that those organisations who invest in growing and retaining key talent reap significant rewards and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

“From downsizing initiatives to cuts in learning and development budgets, today’s talent pools are drying up and need more high potential candidates with the core skills and confidence to drive forward long-term business growth.”
While there is no magic bullet to solve the problem overnight, I believe that there are seven key steps that organisations can focus on to help them grow talent from within:

Prepare for the future As employers we need to prepare people for a world that is very different from the one we currently live and work in. Think about what your organisation might look like in five or ten years’ time. What is shaping and defining the industry you operate in? What key challenges lie ahead? And what skills are going to be crucial tomorrow in order to thrive? If you are going to grow from within and build a business that is adaptable, agile and enduring, then you need to be able to identify and close those long-term skills gaps.

Optimise your talent management strategy Having an effective talent management strategy is crucial to growing from within, yet only half of organisations rate their talent management activities as effective, and only 3% as very effective (CIPD Learning & Talent Development 2011 survey). Do you have buy-in from the board? Is your talent management strategy aligned with your organisation’s business goals? Is it integrated with other core strategies such as performance management and succession planning? Do you have clear processes in place for defining and assessing talent? Is your talent management programme widely known about within your organisation so that your employees can see a clear career path? Do you have the right systems and processes in place to track and measure success?

Develop your leadership talent All organisations need strong leaders to be successful. You only need to look at the costs of replacing top talent to see that it makes sound business sense to invest in developing and retaining the best. While the cost of replacing senior staff can be as high as £100,000 or more in large companies, Harvard Business School estimates the cost of making the wrong hire to be between three and five times the employee’s annual salary and for specialist functions the cost can be up to ten times their annual salary. A well-crafted leadership development programme with the right blend of formal and informal learning can improve leadership skills and ensure better alignment with corporate goals, and will also help increase retention and improve morale across the organisation.

Provide career progression opportunities Your business will suffer if talented people aren’t given the opportunity to grow and feel they have to leave in order to progress and fulfil their potential. Research conducted by PwC in 2010 shows that British businesses are losing in the region of £42bn a year through their failure to retain key staff. Well defined and measurable objectives for progression to the next level of the career ladder should be set and clearly communicated so that everybody knows what they need to achieve to progress. Be it taking the helm of a new entrepreneurial division of the business or an assignment overseas to help develop multicultural leadership skills, look at what opportunities you can provide for high potential people to gain new skills and experience and that will encourage them to keep pushing their potential.

Mobilise your talent Talent mobility has an important role to play in today’s talent management strategies. A dynamic internal process for moving talent from role to role, at the leadership, professional and operational levels (as defined by industry analysts Bersin & Associates), talent mobility helps ensure that talent is moved to where it is needed, when it is needed. Not only can it be vital in helping a company to grow from within by tackling pressing skills issues in a particular departmental area or region of a business, it also helps companies to retain their high performers and promising talent and to future-proof their business.

Build communities of knowledge The rise of social networks is driving collaboration and the sharing of knowledge in the workplace. Workplace forums and other social tools are becoming more commonplace providing employees with a valuable and immediate source of relevant information to help solve problems. These communities can build and maintain ties between different individuals and teams across the world. They can strengthen the structures and bonds within companies, speed knowledge transfer, support the growth of contributing members, and help drive innovation.

“A dynamic internal process for moving talent from role to role, at the leadership, professional and operational levels, talent mobility helps ensure that talent is moved to where it is needed, when it is needed.”

Leverage technology Today’s integrated and unified software systems for talent management, succession planning, learning and performance give senior business managers and HR professionals an empowering set of tools to help identify, evaluate, develop, reward and retain key talent. They are the hub today that drives long-term business performance. Such systems help organisations to spot and manage leadership gaps in talent pipelines and plan for the future as well as helping companies to objectively measure ROI and identify possible programme improvements.  For employees they offer a much-needed career planning framework.

Conclusion Without doubt, growing talent from within is a crucial investment for the future that requires a clear vision and strong implementation. Organisations committed to devoting the time and resources to the issue will win through in the years to come.

Rob Caul is CEO of e2train and 81Boxes, leading providers of learning, performance, talent management and succession planning technologies. For further information visit www.e2train.com and www.81Boxes.com

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