Personnel Today Awards 2008: Chiumento Award for Talent Management

This award recognises organisations that have adopted a proactive approach to talent management and succession planning. Employers need to be creative to attract and retain the best talent. The judge was looking for imaginative organisational talent reviews by the HR team working in conjunction with others in the business.

Sponsor

Chiumento is a leading HR consultancy that helps organisations achieve sustainable benefit from their people strategies, focusing on identifying and harnessing potential, creating the environment to maximise talent and developing capacity.

Awards judge

Marcus Powell is business director and head of the talent management practice at Ashridge Business School. Most recently, he was head of learning and organisational development for a retailer. Other roles include head of HR strategy, head of procurement and supply chain, and more than 10 years as a clothing buyer. Powell gained his first degree from Leeds University in 1988, and also has a Masters in organisational consulting from Ashridge Management College.

Shortlisted teams

Barratt Developments plc

The team: Talent Team
Number in team: 8
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 6,000

About the organisation

Founded in 1958 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Barratt has built and sold more than 300,000 homes on its way to becoming one of the country’s best-known housebuilders. The group now has a network of more than 30 housebuilding divisions, which make and sell in excess of 20,000 new homes a year.

The challenge

In October 2006, a new chief executive was brought in, and set a business strategy with ‘talent’ as the top priority. The first group HR director since 1989 was appointed to develop a talent strategy by succession planning, training and development, and leadership development.

What the organisation did

  • A bi-annual performance and development review process was introduced in 2006-07, enabling the organisation to capture data for succession planning, as well as forming part of the people key performance indicators to track retention versus performance potential
  • HR introduced development programmes for high-potentials (hi-pos) and middle management, as well as one for graduate recruitment and development.

Benefits and achievements

  • Full integration of personal development review process and development planning across more than 6,000 staff
  • Introduction of individual development plans for 150 directors and managers on the succession plan
  • 345 leaders and managers have benefited from leadership development programmes
  • A Dragon’s Den-style programme for 15 hi-pos, which identified salesbuilding initiatives at minimal cost.

The judge says:

“Barratt has put talent to the top of its strategic agenda. It has identified a significant gap in leadership potential, which it has started to address with an integrated strategic approach to talent management. It has systematically introduced development discussions to feed a comprehensive succession plan, part of which has involved the identification of high potentials.”

Big Lottery Fund

The team: HR division
Number in team: 18
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 1,000

About the organisation

Big Lottery Fund is responsible for distributing half of the money raised by the National Lottery to charities. Formed by parliament 18 months ago, it gives an average of £2m every 24 hours to organisations and projects across the UK.

The challenge

Following the merger of the New Opportunity Fund and Community Fund, the HR division was to oversee a restructuring programme that involved the appointment of 400 new managers and employees, the creation of a talent pipeline for future leaders, and improving the general skills of a predominantly specialist workforce.

What the organisation did

  • HR drafted a development talent policy after consulting businesses and trade unions
  • It also made use of the existing technology infrastructure to introduce an online development toolkit and e-learning package to promote management good practice
  • HR introduced a coaching policy to give work-based development, support and female-specific training qualifications to improve the gender mix at managerial level.

Benefits and achievements

  • 136 employees promoted to more senior positions in past 12 months
  • 13 female employees completed managerial qualification
  • Investors in People accreditation achieved in 2007
  • Staff survey found 83% say Big Lottery Fund is a good place to work.

The judge says:

“The Big Lottery Fund has recognised that a one-size-fits-all approach to talent management does not work. HR has worked closely with the business at a senior level to address its pressing talent needs. It has managed to develop a talent strategy that has provided a pipeline for ambitious leaders, as well as broadening the skills of the workforce to enhance the overall capability of the organisation.”

British American Tobacco

The Team: HR
Number of staff the team are responsible for: 54,000

About the organisation

British American Tobacco (BAT) is the world’s second largest international tobacco group. The FTSE 100 company sells products in more than 180 countries around the world and has a 17% share of the global market.

The challenge

In such a controversial industry, attracting and retaining quality staff is essential. Research in 2005 found BAT’s global talent pool was not expanding, and there were not enough people to step into critical business vacancies. Line managers were ‘now’-focused, rather than future-focused, and there was a severe lack of high-potentials (hi-pos).

What the organisation did

  • Succession planning installed in top-team performance objectives
  • HR worked with business psychologists to help line managers recognise hi-pos
  • Existing talent tools were updated, and the talent review system was moved from annual to ongoing at every level, from functional to regional to global.

Benefits and achievements

  • Between 2005 and 2007, the number of readied successors rose from 35% to 55%
  • Ongoing formal talent reviews are now an accepted part of the business
  • Business profits and earnings increased 11% between 2006 and 2007.

The judge says:

“Tobacco is a controversial product and to attract and retain talented people requires an outstanding approach. BAT has undertaken a thorough assessment of its talent needs and made significant progress in shifting the business’ attitude towards talent management. It has increased succession readiness, managers are more aware of their responsibility in developing talent, and more people are being promoted from within.”

Magnox Electric Ltd (North)

The team: HR
Number in team: 45
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 2,600

About the organisation

Magnox looks after nuclear generation of electricity and decommissioning. Its site operations include electricity generation and the defueling and decommissioning of former generating power stations across North Wales.

The challenge

An ageing staff profile and the industry looking increasingly less attractive as a career meant the HR team needed to create a strategy in response to the changing context to attract and retain a skilled, motivated and flexible workforce.

What the organisation did

  • HR produced talent management framework indicating requirements for each of the six sites it oversaw, underpinned by a calendar so that managers at all sites were aware of the overall timeline
  • Local forums were established at the sites to identify high-potentials (hi-pos), whose data was fed back to the central office, to be categorised in different talent pools. This ensured they got the right opportunities, such as leadership programmes, coaching and mentoring, secondments, and senior appointments
  • HR implemented a performance management process to put greater emphasis on employee contributions and competence.

Benefits and achievements

  • Over the past year, Magnox has attracted additional staff into its business through its normal recruitment and graduate scheme
  • Senior executive and management appointments are now being planned, and the individuals are able to move into positions within required timescales
  • Career discussions take place at all six sites, and opportunities for development are identified and fulfilled
  • Staff turnover is now less than 1%.

The judge says:

“The challenge facing the nuclear industry is multi-faceted. In response to this, Magnox has made an impressive start in developing a talent management strategy that is fully integrated into the business strategy. It has raised the game, ensuring that talent becomes a strategic imperative using a standard approach across multiple sites.”

Mouchel

The team: HR department
Number in team: 80
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 11,000

About the organisation

Mouchel is a consulting and business services group that provides design, managerial and engineering services to support modern society. It works with the public and private sectors to provide roads and railways, education and civic infrastructure, water and energy.

The challenge

In 2005, Mouchel’s board set a growth target of 15,000 employees by 2012, to meet their aim of growing turnover from £350m to £1.25bn, increasing the profit margin to 8%, and becoming a FTSE 250 company.

What the organisation did

  • HR enlisted the support of the chief executive to help change employee mindsets and make talent management part of Mouchel’s culture
  • Line managers were given the responsibility of recruiting, identifying and developing talent
  • HR also introduced a two-part performance process of appraisals and development discussions, and designed a workshop to teach line managers how to lead, coach and develop staff.

Benefits and achievements

  • Headcount has grown from 5,000 to 11,000
  • Turnover is up to £650m, while profit margins are at 7.2%
  • £2m reduction in recruitment agency costs since 2006
  • 11% of jobs filled through internal promotions in 2007, up from 6% in 2005
  • 85% of staff say Mouchel is a great place to work.

The judge says:

“Mouchel has an ambitious growth strategy that required an ambitious approach to talent. HR set about changing the mindset of the business, in partnership with it, by working with the current culture and empowering its people to manage talent. The talent management strategy has clarity, is results focused and is aligned with the aspirations of the business.”

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