Centrica fast-tracks potential leaders

Top performing middle managers at utility firm Centrica are
being fast-tracked through a central development centre set up to identify the
leaders of tomorrow.

Kay Penney, talent manage

ment director at Centrica, told delegates at the IQPC HR
Measurement conference yesterday (Tuesday) that the centre was established
following research which highlighted shortfalls in its previous approach to
developing high performers and future leaders.

The study, based on a group of eight high achievers, reveals that although they all had
strong technical and intellectual abilities, they lacked basic people skills.

Now all managers earmarked with leadership potential are put
through the development centre which is designed to highlight the full range of
individuals’ strengths and weaknesses, including how they relate to their
colleagues.

The leadership candidates take part in a two-day exercise
where their initiative and potential are tested, then they have to make a
presentation to 40 frontline staff.

Penney said the development centre is helping Centrica
identify and fully exploit the potential in its most talented staff.

"We have a huge amount of unfulfilled potential and we
need to work out how to measure it and maximise it," said Penney.

Penney said only one per cent of the 110 middle managers who have undertaken the programme so far have proved
to have outstanding leadership skills.

The company identified 5 per cent as having the potential to
be outstanding leaders and 30 per cent with the potential to be a senior
executive.

The highpotential
staff are fast-tracked centrally and given access to mentors and development
initiatives while the rest have their training managed by local HR.

Centrica split from British Gas in 1997 and changed its
business focus through acquisitions of firms such as AA and Goldfish and now has
Britain’s largest customer base of around 19 million.

By Ross Wigham

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