Retention improved by talent management for seniors

Retention of senior management at the UK’s largest engineering consultancy has improved since it started treating senior leaders like graduates.

Senior managers at professional services firm Atkins are being given short retreats and in-depth interviews to clarify their career goals and ambitions, similar to opporunities employers offer graduates and middle managers, Brian Fitzgerald, Atkins’ group HR development director told Personnel Today.

“Because of an increased understanding of what they want, we’re much better able to deploy senior talent than we were before,” said Fitzgerald. “And thanks to this programme, they’re motivated to join in with new opportunities, more productive, more likely to stay, and we get a bigger contribution from them.”

The programme, entitled ‘development dialogue’, asks groups of 10 individuals to fill out forms about their careers. After the data is collected and analysed, they attend two-day business retreats with staff from Henley Management College, where they work with Henley staff on their futures.

When they return to work they continue consultation about their careers and many will not remain in the same market.

“We recognised that we hadn’t been providing reflective time for these senior people, or ensuring they had an in-depth understanding about the company’s future,” Fitzgerald continued.

“On one level, it’s the same kind of necessary understanding of someone’s potential contribution, like for graduates or managers, but now we’re bringing senior management inside the circle, rather than just making assumptions based on the idea that everybody wants their boss’s job.”

Atkins, which employs more than 17,000 people globally, covers a range of markets, from telecoms to railways to oil and gas. Fitzgerald said senior managers who had been helped can be moved from one market to another when promoted.

“This is a deliberate attempt to give senior talent the time to have reflection and people conversations and I don’t believe there are any other organisations doing this at such a high level,” he said.

The programme has been running for a year and has helped three groups of managers, Fitzgerald said.

Earlier this year, the CIPD’s annual Global Leadership Forecast found leadership development schemes were failing to deliver necessary outcomes.

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