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Managing Your Talent With An Eye To The Future

Scenario One


Your star performer has just left your office after telling you that they have decided to move on to another organisation after two years in your team.

After your self-recrimination period has passed, and you have rationalised their decision by deciding that it was due to factors beyond your control (we will come back to this), you decide to turn your mind to a replacement.  Unfortunately, you have been too busy to plan for succession at all levels in your team.  You went to a development program once and you remember them talking about succession but when you got back to work you were distracted by your in-tray that had continued to swell during your absence.
Here you are, up to your elbows in work and someone decides to leave.  Where is their loyalty, after everything you have done for them in giving them a job?  You will show them how indispensable they are by finding a replacement in the next couple of weeks.  So, you don’t have time to develop someone internally and your only option is to look outside.  You recall that your soon-to-depart star performer had a position description (PD) that someone from HR had helped you to develop and you reach for it from their file. 
You change the date on the PD, give it a quick ‘once-over’, update the remuneration, and you publish it through your digital recruitment process.  Now, all you will have to do is wait for the applications to come flooding in.  Your assistant can do the first ‘cut’ of applications and then you can take a look at the final three before making your decision.  Problem solved . . . or is it?


Does all this sound vaguely familiar?  If so, you are not alone, unfortunately.  Let’s take a look at the situation.

Why did your star performer decide to leave in the first place?  What could you have done to avoid this important talent turnover?  Are you planning succession, or are you actively managing succession at all levels in your team/organisation?  Do the capabilities that you are looking for in your new hire reflect your business of two years ago, or are they attuned to the emerging environment within which they will work over the next three to five years? 

What about your current team members?  Are they being developed for today, or tomorrow?  Would it help if your network of contacts contained some talent that you are keeping an eye on and which would add value to your team's contribution?  What does this mean for your own progression?  Will your astute manager demand that your team is prepared for your departure at some time in the future, and what do you need to do to put yourself in the frame for a more strategic position?

Now consider an alternative scenario.

Scenario Two


Your star performer has been speaking with you in your regular catch-ups.  You are aware that they would like to move to a more strategic position and you have approached your contacts in other parts of the organisation to see what opportunities exist.  Although you will lose your star performer from your team, happily, there is an opportunity in another part of the organisation.  You have always encouraged your team members to stretch themselves – that is part of the reason why you are known as a high-performing team leader.

You have been updating your own, and your team’s, PDs on a regular basis and through a thorough analysis of your organisation and your industry knowledge, you are aware of possible emerging environments.  Accordingly, you have updated the capabilities that will be required for individuals to thrive in these future scenarios.  You have also ensured that your team members’ development plans have a similar future focus and your emerging talent is ready for that next step.  You know that actively managing succession puts you in a much stronger position than simply planning.  You have developed your team members through appropriate stretch assignments and you are well aware of who is ready now for that next step.  Through your networking activities, you know what talent is out there in the wider business community that involves your particular discipline, and you are pleased to say that your ‘home-grown’ talent stacks up very well in comparison.
You thank your star performer for their openness.  You select your next appointee from a group of talented individuals who know of you and are attracted to work for you through a rigorous selection process that is based on the organisation’s future needs, and you arrange a well considered and comprehensive hand-over before your star leaves the fold.

Decision Time


  • Which scenario do you choose?
  • What do you need to do to future-proof your talent management process?
  • What can you look forward to?
  • When will you start? 


All the best

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