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Laura Phelps-Naqvi

Laura Phelps-Naqvi

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Embedding Talent Management

Wickland Westcott recently hosted a leadership event, at which the guest speakers were Jackie Lanham from The Co-operative and Keith McCambridge who heads our London office. They shared their experiences of how to cultivate talent to ensure a progressive, evolving organisation.

Five core principles for embedding talent management programmes were identified:

  1. Emphasise the context for change – unfreezing existing behavioural patterns is one of the greatest challenges in introducing change, and the economic context (eg. job security, market competitiveness) can be leveraged to trigger senior buy-in, or encourage the adoption of fresh working practices. Although not often identified as a tool, in practice this is an important part of the leader’s armoury.
  2. Tedious process kills engagement – although you will need clear processes backstage in order to underpin an efficient talent or leadership development programme, you should limit the visibility of it. Participants need to feel the emotional essence - that the focus is on their own development – rather than being encumbered by too many steps, procedures or paperwork.
  3. Focus on winning over the ‘well poisoners’ – these are the cynics of the process, and their behaviour is critical to the success and pace of change across the organisation. If they do not believe it will work, they signal this to others enflaming resistance and contaminating the messaging. Rather than distancing them, they should be proactively engaged – work tirelessly to secure their buy-in throughout the design and roll out.
  4. Only focus development on those who are hungry – better to invest in those individuals who are driven to develop their career rather than those who are totally disinterested.
  5. Keep it alive – the succession plan and talent pool should be managed proactively and continually. A documented organisational plan may well be needed to inform decision-making around succession, but the success or failure of the programme will hinge upon whether participants and senior stakeholders perceive there to be a growing pool of future leaders, rather than upon whether the HR function has a spreadsheet with names next to boxes.

Wickland Westcott’s Talent Management group is a thought leadership forum. For more information on the group, or the ideas described above, contact Laura Oliver.

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