Talent Management; the Path to Senior Leadership

  • Jo Ledlie
  • 27/11/2014
  • 13:30
  • Adecco Group
In Q3, Badenoch & Clark hosted a seminar on the topic; the Path to Senior Leadership. What our audience was keen to learn was how best to support and develop aspiring leaders whilst retaining and maximising their potential.

Our speakers explored how organisations used tools to nurture their talent. They gave examples of how to get an organisation engaged in a more supportive culture. And shared ideas as to how to ensure contributors became leaders and leaders became contributors towards a continued leadership development culture.

Talent management is a difficult thing to define or harness. Colleagues in HR shared some of the challenges they were facing to effective talent management.

For some, it was a question of managing the expectations of different generations. They felt that Generation Y and Z were coming in to the workplace having benefited from little in the way of career advice, guidance or direction. This was a huge drain on resources for Talent teams who had to manage and support this demographic through their choices in an effort to retain them.

Some organisations were making great in-roads in to building rotation programmes to encourage employees to make the right longer term decisions and to support business areas in where best to place their talent. However, many agreed that it was rare that whole organisations engaged in these schemes, especially those who had remote teams and multiple locations. Another challenge to getting whole organisations to adopt talent management tools was where some business areas were defined by a demographic such as age or skill set. It was often those business areas who were unwilling to change or adopt new ideas or processes.


Another interesting discussion point was how to ensure individuals in managerial roles embodied what HR & Talent functions promoted as effective talent management. This was especially true when it came to appraising staff. Colleagues shared opinion that often evaluation processes were too administration heavy and that managers got away with hiding behind “tick boxes” rather than addressing real issues or spending time inspiring or mentoring their staff. The knock on effect to this systematic failure of properly assessing staff of course is the disillusionment of employees as well as the risk of missing out on the opportunity of developing or harnessing potential.


There were some examples of organisations getting this right. One had encouraged a culture of employees and employers pro actively asking for feedback, thus bringing key issues and development points to the fore. This was also a great opportunity to praise and encourage staff and this culture of honesty really benefited loyalty and retention.

Perhaps one of the most pivotal challenges faced by organisations is the ability and engagement of middle management in developing and harnessing talent. Colleagues often talked about the executive team being willing and able to get involved in coaching and mentoring which of course is an excellent way of engaging with staff and getting an insight in to their own businesses. What seemed to be lacking was training and support for middle managers to up-skill them in this area.


Whilst colleagues talked about investment in training courses for managers, it was very rare if they were honest, that skills taught during these often expensive courses were effectively brought back in to the day to day running of the business. This is not necessarily the fault of the attendees, but of the culture of the company and the lack of support managers get in using what they have learnt in training. Where companies got the following things right, they were further on their way to supporting their managers and therefore in managing talent; ethics, strategic alignment and the expectation of their management team. Some organisations vowed that where their leadership team became involved in playing a mentoring role, they became better leaders.


We hope that HR and Talent Managers reading this article, and certainly those that attended our seminar, were given some food for thought as to how they support their organisations to ensure effective talent management, and therefore how to enjoy the benefits this inevitably brings.