06 Dec, 2012

Ability to retain people

Less than half of senior managers in UK and Ireland blue chip organisations are confident of retaining the high value* individuals who are critical to their success. And only 55{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} believe they are effective at retaining their future senior leaders. This is despite the fact that most organisations invest in development programmes for key people and many expect that investment to increase.

This survey of 200 senior managers** was undertaken by talent and career management consultancy Right Management, part of ManpowerGroup.  Mark Hodgson, Practice Leader of Talent Management in Right Management, comments: “The results suggest a lack of creative thinking in the way development programmes are structured, particularly for high value individuals”.

“Development practice is an important part of how organisations retain their key people but success is determined by detail. Achieving the right blend of development activity is critical. Worryingly organisations are placing the majority of their investment solely in traditional development programmes instead of blending this with experiential development opportunities such as stretch assignments, secondments, coaching and mentoring. All of which in our experience are far more effective for developing high potential people who learn best by doing.” said Hodgson.

Ninety two per cent of organisations have formal programmes in place to develop their future leaders; 76{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} have programmes in place for people with specialist skills and knowledge. However, only 49{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} of senior managers questioned believed that these critical individuals are being developed in such a way that will help their organisation achieve its business objectives.

The survey also shows that 36{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} don’t measure their success in retaining high value individuals; 25{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} don’t measure success with retaining their high potential, future leaders. Where measurement does take place, organisations use retention rates, appraisals and the rate and numbers of promotions. Performance is assumed and not confirmed, says Hodgson

Hodgson also believes that current practices are of particular worry for businesses trying to create leaders with the kind of skill sets required for global challenges. A global Right Management report***, released this month, identified the six intercultural competencies essential for leading multinational organisations. The top three competencies were an ability to adapt socially, to demonstrate creativity and having an even disposition.

“Traditional thinking on how best to develop people will not create leaders with that range of competencies. Companies need to demand that their suppliers and partners are much more creative when helping them develop critical people in a very challenging business environment.”

Another key cause of the lack of confidence in retaining key people is the reduction in the number of job levels across industry.  90{6060b2de664e4eaa3e7b7e86961ce2c4bbd7a29b6c1097abf8257a4e5b07383e} of respondents believe there are real disadvantages in a flatter structure because of a reduced number of career opportunities. They believe flat structures make it much harder to retain staff.

As Hodgson concludes: “The organisations we spoke to seem aware of the risks of losing talented people but are also determined to continue using the same approaches to develop and retain them even when there is no evidence that their programmes are working.”

*High value people are individuals who have specialist skills/knowledge which are critical to an organisation’s success but who are not necessarily destined to become its future senior leaders.

High potential people are individuals who have the ability to become the future senior leaders in the organisation.

**A total of 200 telephone interviews were conducted amongst a cross section of senior managers (functional heads) and directors of UK and Irish-based corporates. Fieldwork was conducted during October 2012.

*** The study was conducted between April 2010 and December 2011. The 1,867 participants were spread among 13 nationalities: Australian, Belgian, Brazilian, Canadian, Chinese, French, German, Indian, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish, British and American. Leaders were with organisations ranging from mid-size to Fortune 100 organisations from 134 industries. Only global business leaders participated, those directly responsible for business performance and strategy execution across multiple cultures.

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