Nick Gallimore

Member Article

Performance management is the key to identifying top talent

Talented staff are like gold dust especially those that are talented. Most businesses will be keen to find them, nurture their potential, and keep them through tailored development programmes and increased access to opportunities. Retaining high potential staff is the key to the long-term success of your company.

The question that has challenged HR leaders for sometime is: how do you identify your high potential talent in a robust, evidential and non-biased way to begin with? The solution – performance rating — doesn’t really help differentiate performance and is prone to ratings and recency bias. It is generally so disliked by managers and employees resulting in organisations turning to increasingly complex formularised solutions to identify top performers.

Whether this is based on business KPIs, objective completion rates, or 9 box grids, these methods are take time to complete and are complicated plus it takes significant amounts of data and company resources to maintain and develop. They can involve time-consuming processes and calibration sessions, and result in their own issues over fairness, data quality and transparency.

The process of finding top performers is so consuming that you may even go so far as to identify top talent, telling them they have fit the criteria for this, but then have limited resources or energy to make this meaningful through programmes of activity or real recognition.

There is another way – which is as simple as asking managers three yes or no questions about each of their employees:

  1. Does this person have a proven track record for accomplishing impressive performance results AND have the potential to make significant further progress in their career?
  2. Would there be negative impact for the team / business if this individual left?
  3. Does this person have the personal desire and drive to be Top Talent and are they willing and able to progress their career rapidly via targeted developmental experiences)? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you may have a top performer and you can then answer a fourth question: On balance, taking into account all these indicators, do you recommend them as High Potential Talent?

These should be straightforward to answer if managers have been having regular check-ins with staff throughout the year, this way they can compile the data in a snapshot. This will allow them to see a clear overview of performance, feedback from other members of staff and if goals have been met.

It is important to remember that not all talent looks alike. Top talent in a sales role will look different to top talent in a support role, or an admin role. You may find your top talent somewhere you weren’t expecting, be open minded to finding those who can help your organisation succeed in different ways.

What next? At this point you need to think about what is best for the employee. You want to encourage and support them to develop and to reach their potential, but keep in mind this might not be the best thing for them at this moment in time. Talk to them, find out where they see their career going, how they would like to progress and support them in the ways that will be genuinely helpful to them, and therefore to your organisation.

For those employees who do want to focus on development and progression, you can now put a plan in place with them, their manager and the HR team that will support them to do so. This could involve more responsibility at work, more mentoring time with their manager, attending courses to boost their skills and knowledge etc.

Ensure you set a clear personal development plan (PDP) to go with this, that way when employees have check-ins with their managers they can discuss the progress they have made, if it is going well, or if they need help to get back on track.

Why is identifying and developing top talent important? In order to keep top performers, it is important to recognise them, to show them their work is appreciated, and provide them with the support they need to flourish. If not, they will more than likely take their talent to another organisation who will!

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Nick Gallimore .

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