· Insights

Transforming your talent by turning management into opportunity

In this challenging economic climate, line management as we once knew it is finished. So it’s time to fundamentally reconsider everyone’s expectations of work and the workplace of the future.

When it comes to really developing your employees there are two words that should never be used together: talent and top.

The idea that workplace development should be focused on a small group of individuals has really had its day. 

Talent development must be seen as an opportunity for all, not something that is managed from the top down or a marketplace from which you somehow pick the best of the best.

To really work, to truly open up opportunities to everyone, it must be about mentoring and empowering everyone by finding ways to create meaningful opportunities for the many and not just the chosen few.  

At Cornerstone, we researched over 1,060 employers and 1,000 employees across EMEA, North America and Asia. The resultant survey, Ready, Set, Grow: The Building Blocks for High-Impact Talent Mobility, shows employees are not just open to this inclusive approach, but are actively seeking it out.

While 73% of employees wanted to learn more about new roles within their businesses, and just under 50% would be more satisfied if they had greater opportunities to explore careers internally, only 33% of organisations in EMEA said their people have visibility into career opportunities through some kind of technology. A pressing demand is, therefore, going unmet.



Why consumer experience and mentorship need to combine 

When it came to how employees wanted to learn about these opportunities, it was technology that came out on top.

Line managers do still have a place, but, at least initially, employees want to have the options to take greater responsibility for their own development.

In our survey, 80% said they would prefer to use technology to explore career opportunities – before talking directly to their line manager. This ‘research before engage’ is very much how many of us already behave as wider consumers.

While 50 per cent felt they had unsupportive line mangers, this could be transformed if only the line manager could be more involved in help with career decisions and opportunities to grow.

So how can we now facilitate this and what do forward thinking businesses need to do to speed up this development of this trend?


Three key routes to better talent development

Three clear themes are gaining momentum.  

  1. Personal development requires a personalised strategy: the challenge is to connect then unlock the power of self-interest which is as unique as our potential for growth.
  2. Tech is the change agent and not just the enabler. All stakeholders need to see and deliver growth mobility in the context of business necessity, not just talent best practice.
  3. We need to shape a new style for the line manager based around authentic partnership. Put simply they need to become personal coaches and facilitators.

Line managers need to ultimately move from being talent hoarders to talent farmers, and in doing so take a clear step forward when it comes to building a truly agile workforce. 

Significant operational changes will need to reinforce the wider cultural change, not least on how we measure and reward what matters.

Does this all really matter? Perhaps a good place to start is the long-term investors looking at the talent maturity of the businesses they invest in.  


Putting your organisation in pole position to succeed

Of course it’s critical that you have the capabilities within your organisation that will allow you to drive future growth.

But by taking the next steps and creating an agile and adaptive workplace you are taking a huge step towards creating the kind of opportunity-based business which rewards and engages employees, allowing them to develop the skills required to ensure your business continues to have the capability to deliver what shareholders and investors want.

Yes, that may take a significant cultural shift for many organisations, but ridged top-down, top-talent based approaches really have no future if you really want to succeed as a business.

It really is time to unlock the power of the crowd beyond just decision making. By adopting this new approach, by redefining the line manager’s role, using consumer quality tech to enable change, and growing the capabilities of the whole workforce – you put yourself into a pole position to succeed,  whatever lies ahead.


Dominic Holmes is principal, value and strategy, international, at Cornerstone

To download your copy of Ready, Set, Grow: The Building Blocks for High-Impact Talent Mobility click here.

To find out more about how Cornerstone can help you to reinvigorate your talent plans and build a more agile workforce click here.