Fostering a Talent Development Culture

Fostering a Talent Development Culture

by Wilson Chu, Principal Consultant, HMI Consulting Limited

This company is a successful construction firm founded in the 70’s in Hong Kong by the existing Managing Director and has business in mainland China and South East Asia with more than 1,000 staff. This company’s business covers a complete construction services for commercial and residential properties as well as civil facilities like ports, bridges and highways.

With the help of the economic recovery, the company has expanded its business in recent years from construction to other aspects such as ongoing building maintenance and property management. Although the company business has been quite successful with a steady growth every year, there will be a disconnect between the senior and middle management as many of the senior executives would have reached their age of retirement in a few years while staff at the immediate lower grade are not ready yet for succession. In the light of the above circumstances, the top management senses that there is an urgency to identify and develop a talent pool with great potentials in order to fill up the foreseen vacancy of senior positions in near future.

• Staff turnover rate of middle management is relatively high in this company which may affect the program consistency and effectiveness
• Competence requirements for senior executive positions are not clearly defined
• Staff training are not a regular practice in this company
• Staff are busy with daily operations and are not willing to spare extra time for training
• Senior executives have no idea on how to select talents objectively and systematically

To cope with the aforesaid challenges, the company has invited HMI to assist their management in developing a Talent Development Program which helps:

• Identify talented staff who have great potentials for further advancement
• Identify gaps between the current competence level of talented staff and company’s requirements
• Train up coaches to transfer knowledge and accelerate the learning process of talents
• Develop a talent pool for future succession
• Reduce the impact caused by potential loss of key players
• Establish a systematic scheme to continuously manage the process of talent development
• Attract, retain and motivate talented staff

HMI Consulting adopted a Talent Development Approach as shown below to help the client in achieving the above objectives:

In order to tackle the aforementioned issues, HMI consultants guided the client through different processes of the Talent Development Approach:

1. Program Design and Planning
• Prepare a clear program outline that explains the program objectives, duration, timelines and deliverables
• Set up a management structure that specifies the roles and responsibilities among top and senior management, coaches, external consultants and selected talents in support to the program
• Select and nominate talents to the program based on defined criteria. Series of interviews have been conducted to facilitate the talent selection process
• Facilitate the senior executives to review and revamp the existing compensation policy/ practice for talent retention and motivation
• Arrange a kick-off meeting to introduce and confirm the overall project objectives, scope, milestone, methodologies, structure and deliverables to senior executives and talents

2. Talent Assessment
• Specify the core competence requirements in alignment with corporate directives and core values for senior executive positions
• Apply different psychometric assessment tools to evaluate the attributes and competences of nominated talents. Individual assessment data will be benchmarked against the aggregated group results to identify the competence gap and development areas
• Conduct a competency gap analysis to evaluate the gap between the staff competence level and company’s requirement

3. Talent Development
• Design an integrated staff development plan to assist talents to close their competence gaps identified
• Conduct a Coach-the-coach workshop to equip senior executives with essential coaching and mentoring skills needed for developing talents. Regular coaching sessions will be provided to talents by senior executives to keep track of talents’ learning progress
• Develop talents’ leadership attributes and skills through series of training workshops and different experiential-learning projects in which the talents will apply what they learn in the workshops to help the company generate different ideas to enhance company’s business or operations in alignment with corporate directives. Talents will conduct interim presentation to top management on the project progress.
• Organize a graduation ceremony to recognize the achievement of talents as well as the contributions of coaches
• Provide top management a final report to outline the overall learning performance of talents and to identify the potential successors

After the first intake of the program, feedbacks from the nominated talents are very positive. They found the interactive workshops and experiential-learning activities very practical and inspiring which have brought them valuable insights in leadership aspect. Moreover, the clear definition and communication of competence requirements has provided the middle management a more specific career path in this company. Although there is no solid guarantee on the advancement after program graduation, most talents appreciate the opportunity for further enhancement on their competence provided by the company, which has also greatly increased the loyalty of key talents. Furthermore, the on-going program promotion and words of mouth from the immediate graduates have also aroused other employees’ awareness and interests on continuous learning. The company plans to run the develop program for another round and may extend it one level down to prepare the supervisory staff to become middle management.