6 Ideas to Catapult the Growth of Your Top Talent




  • July 7, 2016

    Over the last couple of weeks I have shared with you a number of innovative ideas on attracting and developing talent and given you a glimpse of the future of performance management. All of these elements combined make up the Talent Management Model that has helped my clients significantly enhance their ability to attract, get the best out of, engage and retain talent.


    Talent Management


    Today I’ll talk about ‘leveraging talent’ which gives organizations the ability to not only fast track the development of their best talent but also to do this in a way that significantly creates immediate value for the organization itself. Of course this is based on the assumption that you have already done all the right things to identify your top talent. Just to make sure you have gone through the right steps, you must have:



    • assessed your talent against a relevant leadership competency framework and transparent targets,
    • incorporated multi rater feedback in this assessment,
    • calibrated your talent against other top talent from other parts of the organization,
    • informed your top talent of their status in the organization and awarded them accordingly, and
    • created a high impact fast-track development plan for your top talent.

    I’ve always been a big fan in designing solutions that ‘kill two birds with one stone’. Sending your top talent to well recognized universities, for example, could be a great experience (and boost your top talent’s resume), however, it doesn’t create immediate value for companies. For me the most exciting fast-track development options are the ones where your top talent extensively learns and at the same time creates huge value for the organisation.


    So here are six ideas that will fast track the development of your top talent and gives your organisation immediate value:


    1. Trendspotting


    One of the initiatives the fast moving consumer goods giant Unilever conducts every couple of years is to take 15 of their global top talent into a ‘Trendspotting’ Task Force. The top talent are selected from their worldwide operating locations, across all functions, businesses, ages and genders. This task force, facilitated by some of the best foresighted guru’s in the world, is tasked with the identification of ‘mega trends’ that would impact Unilever’s business 10 – 15 years down the line.


    2. Consumer Deep Dive


    The consumer deep dive approach gives top talent the opportunity to live and breathe with your consumers and clients. As a B2B company you could send your top talent on a few weeks secondment with your biggest clients. Or if you are a pharmaceutical company assign them to a not-for-profit hospital. As a beverages company, have them live with an urban household. And if you’re a micro finance bank you could have them live with the unbanked for a few weeks. I promise you the insights gained will give them an unparalleled outside-in perspective that they’ll be impacted by it for the rest of their professional lives.


    3. Turnaround Teams


    Gather your top talent and create a turnaround team. This team’s responsibility is to implement a major change effort project or assignment. You could have them lead the organization’s restructuring efforts, transform the culture, implement an ERP, or even redesign the performance management system. Basically the idea is to not only provide them huge learning opportunities, but to also test whether these top talent is made of the right ‘leadership metal’.


    4. Government Negotiations


    Running or being part of an important government negotiations team gives top talent an opportunity to understand different stakeholders. This way they’ll get to find and craft solutions that would work for both parties. And it is not so much the negotiations that are important, it’s more the exposure to stakeholders that normally would have a very different perspective, objective and even responsibilities.


    5. Run New Business


    I still remember in the late 90’s during the internet boom when everything that had ‘real’ assets were significantly less than ’e-assets’. Even my previous organization was pressured by shareholders to test the waters. And so they set up a couple of ‘venture funds’ that would fuel new business ideas from top talent. These intrapreneurs were then relieved from their current roles and asked to prove the feasibility of their ideas. Raymond Cloosterman was one of these exceptional people who took the opportunity and founded the home and body cosmetic brand Rituals.


    6. Innovation Hack


    What do you think would happen if you put your brightest and smartest talent together for a couple of days and ask them to do an ‘innovation hack’? A ‘pressure-cooking’ process where people in an interactive way are asked to come up with ideas and solutions for specific problems. The impact of such a process could be enormous particularly if the outcome yields innovation that catches the attention of global design thinking companies like IDEO. More importantly, the process would award your top talent the ‘innovation champion’ medal.


    Have you implemented a strategy that develops your top talent while leveraging their impact across the organization? I’d like to hear about them. Next week I’ll be sharing with you some innovative engagement ideas

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