I recently had the opportunity to find out through a series of individual, face-to-face meetings in an organisation where we had introduced a talent strategy some eight months ago. 


To give some context, the strategy sets out an approach that values all employees and seeks to offer outstanding development to everyone in line with the firm’s strategic goals, as well as individuals’ own aspirations. 


It creates processes and guidance for career conversations, as well as guidance on identifying training needs. It also specifies key organisational needs that individual development goals should align to. 


What emerged from the review was that people especially:


  • Appreciate focused conversations about development that are separate from the performance appraisal process

  • Value a structure and guidance on holding career conversations. The guidance provided questions to reflect on yourself, as well as organisational goals. There was also a version for supporting others. In fact comments overall suggested that the guidance was the key element that made the process effective.

What to do better?

I certainly learned that you have to be careful that people don’t feel pressured into development that they don’t want and it cannot be emphasised enough that career and development are about broadening skills and keeping up with change. People still tend to equate these concepts with promotion.


What made the most impact on me was how strongly most people felt that an organisation that facilitates development for everyone in this way is a better one to work for. One comment stood out in particular ‘ a talent strategy doesn’t suddenly make a tangible difference but the organisation would be worse off without it”. This gets to the heart of the age old discussion about the link between people and performance. Does this come about through a range of good people practices, or does it have to link to a specific business benefit?


Certainly my meetings over the last few weeks suggest the former. 



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Janice Caplan

25 July 2018   

©Copyright Janice Caplan 2018