Lack of creativity in development ‘harms retention’

Almost half of senior managers lack confidence in their ability to retain critical employees, despite significant investment in development programmes.

This is according to a survey carried out by career management consultancy Right Management, which highlighted a shortage of “creative thinking” in development that is leading to difficulties in retaining high-value staff.

Only 55% of respondents said they believe they are effective at retaining their future senior leaders. This is despite most organisations investing in development programmes for key people and many respondents expecting that investment to increase.

Ninety-two per cent of respondents said that they have formal programmes in place to develop their future leaders, and 76% have programmes in place for people with specialist skills and knowledge. However, only 49% of senior managers questioned believed that these individuals are being developed in such a way that will help their organisation achieve its business objectives.

The findings also highlighted that 36% of respondents don’t measure their success in retaining high-value individuals and 25% don’t measure success with retaining their high-potential, future leaders. Where measurement does take place, organisations use retention rates, appraisals, and the rate and numbers of promotions.

Mark Hodgson, practice leader of Talent Management in Right Management, comments: “The results suggest a lack of creative thinking in the way development programmes are structured, particularly for high-value individuals.

“Development practice is an important part of how organisations retain their key people but success is determined by detail. Achieving the right blend of development activity is critical. Worryingly, organisations are placing the majority of their investment solely in traditional development programmes instead of blending this with experiential development opportunities such as stretch assignments, secondments, coaching and mentoring. All of which, in our experience, are far more effective for developing high potential people who learn best by doing,” he added.

According to Right Management, another key cause of the lack of confidence in retaining key people is the reduction in the number of job tiers across industry. Ninety per cent of respondents said that there are real disadvantages in a flatter structure because of a reduced number of career opportunities and believe flat structures make it much harder to retain staff.

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