Star performers

IBM

The top challenge for talent managers at IBM Business Consulting Services, is focusing programmes on what the business wants, according to Roger Metelerkamp, leader of human capital management. “Or else we are in danger of building the wrong kind of talent,” he says.

Striking the right balance between recruiting talent and growing talent also requires careful judgement.

“If you buy in too many people, you run the danger of creating discontent among incumbents who feel they aren’t getting enough opportunities,” he says. “The plus side is new recruits bring with them a fresh vitality and new ideas.”

Talent management at IBM Business Consulting is largely the responsibility of its line managers who are supported by HR business partners. HR sets the strategy with the line manager and then advises on staff development, workforce planning and recruitment.

Metelerkamp says there is an HR partner per 500-800 employees. The HR partner works with the head of the business function and a number of line managers in the unit. He estimates that there are about 8% of employees who “we absolutely want to retain”.

But once you are committed to a talent management programme, Metelerkamp warns there is an onus on the company to give employees the new challenges and opportunities they have been trained for.

“If you raise expectations, you must be prepared to meet them,” he says.

Employees identified as potential managers of the future at IBM are given priority access to training courses, accelerated development and mentoring, along with greater chances for promotion and the flexibility to take up different job experiences.

Nationwide

As befits the group head of training and development at Nationwide Building Society, current holder of the Sunday Times Best Big Company to Work for award, John Wrighthouse is passionate about singling out and developing talent amongst Nationwide’s 16,000 employees.

Bringing on talent from within the organisation, rather than recruiting externally is crucial to Nationwide’s strategy, he says, as it ensures continuity for the company’s operations.

Wrighthouse heads a small team of eight within the company’s training and development unit who have spent the past year working with HR consultancy Hay Group to identify the attributes potential high-fliers display.

Employees that demonstrate a combination of flexible and conceptual thinking, integrity, initiative and the ability to drive themselves and collaborate with others are candidates for the organisation’s top talent pool.

Formal assessment centres have been set up to screen for top talent while each year 20 graduates, who show the same attributes, are recruited onto a two-year management development programme.


Wrighthouse makes a definite distinction between a succession planning role, where the goal is to find someone ready to move into a certain position in the short-term, and talent management, where the outlook is set much further into the future.



Nationwide


As befits the group head of training and development at Nationwide Building Society, current holder of the Sunday Times Best Big Company to Work for award, John Wrighthouse is passionate about singling out and developing talent amongst Nationwide’s 16,000 employees.


Bringing on talent from within the organisation, rather than recruiting externally is crucial to Nationwide’s strategy, he says, as it ensures continuity for the company’s operations.


Wrighthouse heads a small team of eight within the company’s training and development unit who have spent the past year working with HR consultancy Hay Group to identify the attributes potential high-fliers display.


Employees that demonstrate a combination of flexible and conceptual thinking, integrity, initiative and the ability to drive themselves and collaborate with others are candidates for the organisation’s top talent pool.


Formal assessment centres have been set up to screen for top talent while each year 20 graduates, who show the same attributes, are recruited onto a two-year management development programme.


Wrighthouse makes a definite distinction between a succession planning role, where the goal is to find someone ready to move into a certain position in the short-term, and talent management, where the outlook is set much further into the future.


Prudential


At insurance giant Prudential, organisation development leader Drew Watson says the company has been “serious about talent management for two years”. The organisation has a head of talent and succession, plus another full-time talent manager overseeing 7,500 employees based in London, Reading, Stirling, Belfast in the UK and in Mumbai in India.


Watson, who liaises with the talent team to ensure they connect with wider business issues, says the company has a senior talent pool made up of around 20 people who display high performance and high potential. A broader talent pool contains about 120 employees who are being groomed for middle management roles, he says.


“In some ways it’s easier to identify senior talent,” says Watson. “The clues aren’t as clear for the middle management roles. Here we look for people who are capable of promotion to the next level within two years.”


Finding the top talent at Prudential comes under the remit of the executive board, which appoints ‘talent ratings’ to individuals based on performance reviews and career aspiration forms.


“Having the most senior people in the organisation looking at talent gives the whole process clout,” says Watson.


Prudential is now looking at bringing in a ‘potential tool’ – a checklist of objective criteria against which potential top talent can be judged – to avoid subjective nominations and cloning.


Those judged to be top talent are given a number of “major stretch placements” to test their abilities, in different departments across the organisation.


Twice a year, six of Prudential’s top talent also participate in an initiative called Talent Planet, where they have the opportunity to meet rising stars from non-competing companies, such as Shell, Cathay Pacific, Dell and Johnson & Johnson, for a week of peer coaching and experience sharing to broaden their development.


The company also runs a fast-track graduate recruitment scheme in conjunction with Warwick Business School, where “the bright and shinies” are identified. Often armed with a good degree and an MBA, Watson says these future leaders are given a number of placements and stretch assignments in their first two years.



Prudential


At insurance giant Prudential, organisation development leader Drew Watson says the company has been “serious about talent management for two years”. The organisation has a head of talent and succession, plus another full-time talent manager overseeing 7,500 employees based in London, Reading, Stirling, Belfast in the UK and in Mumbai in India.


Watson, who liaises with the talent team to ensure they connect with wider business issues, says the company has a senior talent pool made up of around 20 people who display high performance and high potential. A broader talent pool contains about 120 employees who are being groomed for middle management roles, he says.


“In some ways it’s easier to identify senior talent,” says Watson. “The clues aren’t as clear for the middle management roles. Here we look for people who are capable of promotion to the next level within two years.”


Finding the top talent at Prudential comes under the remit of the executive board, which appoints ‘talent ratings’ to individuals based on performance reviews and career aspiration forms.


“Having the most senior people in the organisation looking at talent gives the whole process clout,” says Watson.


Prudential is now looking at bringing in a ‘potential tool’ – a checklist of objective criteria against which potential top talent can be judged – to avoid subjective nominations and cloning.


Those judged to be top talent are given a number of “major stretch placements” to test their abilities, in different departments across the organisation.


Twice a year, six of Prudential’s top talent also participate in an initiative called Talent Planet, where they have the opportunity to meet rising stars from non-competing companies, such as Shell, Cathay Pacific, Dell and Johnson & Johnson, for a week of peer coaching and experience sharing to broaden their development.


The company also runs a fast-track graduate recruitment scheme in conjunction with Warwick Business School, where “the bright and shinies” are identified. Often armed with a good degree and an MBA, Watson says these future leaders are given a number of placements and stretch assignments in their first two years.


TNT


For Frank Keepers, group director of talent management at global delivery company TNT, talent management initiatives must be grounded in the day-to-day reality of what the business needs.


“We employ 165,000 practical people whose job it is to move stuff around the world,” he says. “I’m not paid to come up with conceptual ideas, but with practical programmes related to the business.”


TNT, says Keepers, is the first company to be recognised as a worldwide Investor in People organisation. It is structured into three divisions – logistics, express and mail – and each division has a head of talent management.


The key role is to articulate business needs so that line managers understand the type of skills and people the company wants to develop, says Keepers.


“You can have a great business plan, but you need the right people, in the right place, at the right time – and at the right cost – if you want it to succeed,” he says.


Each individual’s potential is assessed by small groups of top line managers in conjunction with heads of divisions and business units. Employees ranked as high potential are those projected to move up at least two job grades over a three to five-year period.


These people, says Keepers, are then matched with key roles, identified as important because of their impact on turnover and company performance. A key role at TNT could be a business development manager, a head of operations responsible for a large sorting centre, or a top financial person responsible for acquisition – roles that “offer a high exposure for success and failure,” explains Keepers.


In recent years, TNT has been involved in a number of company mergers and buyouts. Keepers says talent management assessments of the quality of the people in these new businesses is a vital aspect of the deals. “After all, we are buying more than a brand and a bunch of trucks,” he says.

Talent management best practice




  • Get the balance right between recruiting talent and developing it in-house


  • Ensure that your talent programme is impartial and based on objective criteria


  • Don’t just focus your talent programme on top talent


  • Ensure follow-through of the talent programme to meet and heighten expectations, eg, through training, promotion and peer coaching


  • Expose talent to different job experiences and other companies


  • Ensure your talent programme is tightly aligned to business needs


  • Get senior management buy-in to give the
    programme clout

Key skills for talent managers


Drew Watson, Prudential’s organisation development leader:




  • The capacity to engage people and help them see the future of the business, backed by development knowledge


  • An understanding of how the organisation works, both formally and informally


  • Good coaching skills to take people through to the next job level


  • The ability to mentor on areas of business strategy and be there for line managers to lean on

Roger Metelerkamp, leader of the human capital management practice at IBM Business Consulting Services in the UK:




  • The ability to understand business issues and think strategically and laterally


  • A self-starter with heaps of initiative


  • An HR partner with business consultative-type skills

Frank Keepers, TNT’s group director of talent management:




  • Analytical and creative


  • The ability to translate the standard HR practices to fit business needs

John Wrighthouse, Nationwide’s group head of training and development:




  • The ability to spot small pieces of evidence that show people have the potential to become the senior managers of the future


  • Influencing skills


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