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MENTOR - CAREER CLINIC

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Question...
Question

One of our departments is haemorrhaging staff - 10 people out of a total of 30 have left in the past six months. The most common reason cited is a lack of career progression. This is something we are trying to address but I would like some advice on how to put a 'talent spotting' programme in place.

Answer

The current climate of flatter organisations, horizontal career paths and a demand for leadership talent that outstrips supply means growing your own leaders makes good business sense and creating a talent scheme is a wise move. We all know, only too well, that replacing staff is a costly exercise - not only in terms of real money but also hidden costs such as the morale of staff trying to cover vacant posts.

It is helpful to distinguish between a 'fast track' scheme for new and current staff which identifies, recruits, develops and retains those with the right leadership skills - and workforce planning and development, designed to retain talented staff.

In setting up a fast-track scheme, you must ensure a fair, open and robust system for selection and progression, and need to consider the following:

>> Encourage self-nomination (avoids line manager bias)

>> Identify key principles (such as equality of opportunity, open competition, honesty, openness and transparency)

>> Ensure rigorous, unbiased assessment

>> Identify problem areas through workforce planning data

>> Review entry routes into jobs

>> Consider positive action (help with application forms and interviews for under-represented groups)

>> Monitor performance.

The scheme should be based on your organisation's competencies, which need to include behavioural, technical and, most importantly, leadership skills. Attendance at an assessment/development centre will provide information as to how candidates measure up against the requirements. Individuals should then be given feedback on their strengths and areas for development.

Martin Horton

Director, Improvement & Development Agency

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