Tim Scott: How key is a talent management strategy in business today?

The current job market is fiercely competitive, with talented individuals looking for employers who will offer them the training and development which will give them the opportunity to realise their full potential.

In this environment, companies need strong recruitment and retention strategies to help them get – and then stay – one step ahead. As pressure from regulatory bodies and professional standards rises, how sustainable is it to focus on nurturing home-grown talent ahead of recruiting new ideas?

Attracting the right talent to your organisation

Attracting the right people to any organisation is never going to be enough in isolation. Once you’ve attracted them, you have to retain them!

A more strategic approach is certainly required for this. It starts with being crystal clear about your business strategy and, in particular, its implications for the employees.

We all know that the current business environment is highly volatile and it’s no longer possible to produce ten-year plans with any certainty (if indeed it ever was). However, you can set out a clear direction of travel and draw some conclusions from that. It’s vital to consider the impact of that business strategy on your talent requirements and ask yourself some key questions, including:

  • What skills will we need if we are to be successful in achieving our strategy?
  • Do we have those skills now?
  • If we do, how will they need to change over that period? If we don’t, are those skills readily available in the marketplace or do we need to start growing our own?

 

Your location plays an important role here: do the skills you want exist in your locality? If they do, great. If not, you may need to think about how you will develop them – and what help you might need.

Your strategy may also require you to make the most of the support that is available to employers in terms of reskilling or upskilling. As a levy-paying employer, we set out to make the best possible use of our Apprenticeship Levy payments with a view to using it to supplement the learning and development we already offered when it was introduced. As a result, we’ve used every penny we have paid into it, unlike a lot of companies who don’t use it to its full potential.

The continuation of identifying, strengthening and developing an individual’s potential

With so many legally qualified team members, we work closely with bodies such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority to maintain our professional standards. As with many professions, lawyers must undertake a certain amount of Continuing Professional Development as a fundamental requirement of their fitness to practice. However, we have adopted a performance management process that identifies individuals’ development requirements for the year ahead (and beyond) across our entire company, not just the legal team members.

We have also developed a process we call “Pathway to Progression”, which clearly charts how team members can develop throughout their chosen area of work within Fletchers, whether that is the journey from Paralegal to qualified solicitor with many years of PQE (Post Qualification Experience), or from the Post Room to Director of Operations!

Personally, I disagree with how some people in the HR field use the word “talent” to define only the top percentage of the company’s performers. I’m a great believer that everyone has talent in one area or another and the role of a good manager is to find, nurture and direct that talent for everyone, not just their High potential employees (HiPos).

Retaining talent and developing leadership

Good leadership is critical to any business that wants to be sustainably successful. We have developed several bespoke programmes for groups of team members at different stages of their careers, whether that is our aspiring managers or C-suite established leaders.

Creating a positive company culture is crucial

In order for companies to succeed, it’s imperative for them to attract great new talent and retain their best people. This is critical to the success of any organisation. By heavily investing in learning and development and ensuring there are opportunities for career progression, companies will become attractive places for employees to stay and follow a clear pathway to develop and flourish.

But it’s not all about the career opportunities that are available. A lot of people stay (or leave) a company because of its culture and this is important whatever the size of the business. It’s not something that is fully dependent on how much money is in the training pot. It’s about developing an environment that people want to come into each day, where they feel valued, want to give their best, and their best is appreciated. And while no-one creates a culture single-handedly, you can recruit and then keep the best people to contribute to it.