Mentoring and coaching are the missing link in the recruitment and retention strategy of too many organisations.
Management consultant Mike Williams told a seminar on the war for talent at the recent CIPD annual conference at Harrogate that it was almost impossible to make precise predictions about an employee’s future.
But he said it was vital to identify potential and create a structure for developing it.
Williams said that coaching for specific roles – including the setting of achievable goals – should be used alongside mentoring to focus on long-term development.
A system of sponsors who can help talented employees cope with the political side of a job and promote them within the organisation’s hierarchy should also be adopted.
In addition, he said, employers need to ensure staff earmarked as the leaders of the future have opportunities for “quality dialogue” with senior management who will listen and have the clout to make things happen as a result of the communication.
Williams said, “Competitive advantage is so dependent on talent. It seems to me that coaching and mentoring are crucial activities that are missing in too many businesses.
“The war for talent is intensifying and more organisations are waking up to their talent gap. Increasingly companies are becoming aware that lack of talent is a major competitive restraint.”
Sue Stevenson, global head, organisation and development, at consumer health company Novartis, said managers throughout the organisation are required to make “audacious” appointments and actively seek out internal talent and make them visible to senior management.
She said the strategies were used in conjunction with a regular talent review that has real implications for the employees’ futures. “This is not just about the war for talent it is about a war for exceptional talent,” she added.
By Helen Rowe