Microsoft’s learning and development chief has halved turnover of talented employees by matching them to experienced mentors using “dating agency” software.
At the CMI management and leadership development forum, Gary Gilligan, learning and development director at Microsoft UK, said management programmes for ‘high potentials’ had been so ineffective 18 months ago, more than 40% of the skilled staff were leaving each year.
“People used to joke that if you wanted to get rid of someone, you got them in on the high potential scheme,” Gilligan told Personnel Today.
Part of the solution was to introduce measures to match up high potentials with more experienced employees using match-making software.
“We now have a dating agency type of software that asks our senior professionals to input information that they know well and are passionate about, while high-potentials put in what they’re looking for and the software matches them up,” said Gilligan. “It’s used for all of our high potential staff, which is about 4% of our workforce, and they can determine the frequency of the ‘dates’ that they meet to troubleshoot career and role-specific problems.”
“It’s been working for around 18 months now, and from a general level up to the most senior levels, we’ve seen an improvement in the quality of leadership, and a drop in high-potential turnover of about half,” said Gilligan.
He added that internal research found nearly three quarters (73%) of those involved in the scheme also believed it was effective.
Earlier this year,Microsoft announced 5000 job cuts worldwide, including many in back office functions like HR.