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Building an effective talent pipeline

Helen Mayson

The leadership and management talent pipeline

Top tips for developing a robust and reliable talent pipeline

Research shows that organisations with better skilled leaders and managers are more successful and countries with well-trained leaders and managers are more competitive. The UK currently falls down on both counts compared to our major trading rivals

Create a talent plan

A talent plan allows an organisation to match skills development with internal needs. More importantly, they enable the introduction of essential skills (especially leadership and management skills) before people take up the responsibility for supervising others.

Train managers before appointment

Far too few organisations currently ensure that people have the basic skills needed to perform as managers and leaders before they are first appointed to a role. There are few other occupational areas where this would be considered normal. Given the enormous harm that a poor performing manager can cause, the risks associated with this strategy are high.

Develop the right skills

Our research identified three key skills - communication, people management and organisation and planning - which are important at all levels of management. Developing these skills in all employees will prepare them for management and help with their day-to-day work.

For senior leaders, financial acumen and strategic thinking suddenly become more important. Smart organisations will develop these skills in their managers as they progress, promoting the possibility of internal staff stepping up to more senior roles.

While technical skills are important for initial recruitment, they are not a good indication of leadership potential or management capability. First-line managers hired for their technical skills alone may be unprepared for the demands of more senior leadership roles.

Consider personal qualities

We found that managers who are inspirational, emotionally intelligent, creative and innovative are hard to find at all levels. These are key characteristics for 21st century leaders and managers, crucial for driving growth and innovation.

Look to the future

Smart organisations will build an effective talent pipeline, looking beyond the immediate demands of a role to consider what their future needs will be. They'll also select people for management roles who have the key ingredients to progress to senior roles in the long-term.

An adequate supply of leadership and management talent is no longer enough - businesses will need greater access to highly developed leaders to drive business growth and compete in a global market.

Invest in development

The case for investing in leadership and management talent is strong. We believe employers can benefit from lower recruitment costs, improved staff loyalty and a lower risk of losing valuable organisational knowledge.

Infographic: are UK businesses suffering from a skills shortage among managers?

The leadership and management pipeline - download our full report

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