Most organisations conduct some form of regular talent review meeting as a core element of the talent process. However, the quality of talent reviews varies considerably, depending on the commitment and skills of the line leaders who are involved in the discussions, the quality of the data on the individuals being discussed and the level of credibility and expertise of HR. Some organisations view talent reviews as just as important as financial or business strategy reviews, with executives prepared to carve out significant time in their diaries to dedicate the time needed.
The purpose of talent reviews is to review consistently and systematically the talent in the organisation.
Reviews typically include the following:
– Set the business context for the discussion
– Set the business context for the discussion
– Review the quality and depth of talent in the part of the business being reviewed
– Identify individuals with potential to advance. Some organisations make sure all employees are discussed at some point in the talent review cycle
– Provide relevant data on individuals’ performance, potential, career history and aspirations.
Many organisations often consider retention risk too:
– Discuss critical roles and potential successors
– Agree who should and shouldn’t be included in talent pools
– Agree actions such as development moves, assigning mentors, etc.
CRF would highlight the following critical success factors that differentiate the most effective talent reviews:
1. Follow through: actions need to be agreed, noted and regularly followed up, both outside the meeting and at the next session. The focus needs to be on identifying and committing to development actions.
2. Make it a sequence of ongoing discussions rather than an annual event: more sophisticated organisations tend to conduct talent reviews more frequently than once a year, particularly for key talent pools.
3. Tie in with regular business cycle: this signals the importance of talent discussions within the business cycle. For many organisations, one annual review is unlikely to be enough. Indeed, we have noted a trend towards more frequent reviews that slice and dice the organisation in different ways. For example, Unilever runs talent reviews at all levels that cut across geographies, functions and categories. Some individuals will be reviewed more than once depending on where they sit in the organisation matrix – such as by function and location.
4. The right people should be in the room, with the authority to make decisions. Attendees need to be well briefed and armed with the information that allows them to make appropriate decisions about the individuals being discussed. People should only be allowed to express a view if they have worked with the person in question. The meetings should be facilitated by a senior HR person with good business understanding, credibility and expertise in the talent processes. Part of the HR leader’s role should be to check that criteria such as potential ratings are being consistently applied. The right people should be in the room, with the authority to make decisions. Attendees need to be well briefed and armed with the information that allows them to make appropriate decisions about the individuals being discussed. People should only be allowed to express a view if they have worked with the person in question. The meetings should be facilitated by a senior HR person with good business understanding, credibility and expertise in the talent processes. Part of the HR leader’s role should be to check that criteria such as potential ratings are being consistently applied.
5. Involve peers from other business units. This can often enrich the quality of discussion, including through pushing for evidence to support a position. It may also lead to opportunities for sharing talent across organisational boundaries. At TalkTalk, members of the executive team act as mentors for talent in parts of the business outside their own, so they get to know a broader base of talent.
6. Include relevant personal information, such as mobility, career ambitions, destination roles, etc. Many organisations now have talent management technology systems that allow employees to complete these details themselves.
7. Bring in information on relevant job openings that the people under discussion may be considered for.
8. Make provision for individuals to receive feedback on discussions after the event. It is easier for individuals to take ownership of the career progression if they are aware of what the organisation has in mind for them. This doesn’t need to be verbatim record of who said what, merely the headlines.
9. Provide training and ongoing support for managers, both in terms of how to run the meetings and how to provide feedback and ongoing development support to their people.
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