Managing talent was about recruiting, retaining and rewarding now it's about redeployment,redundancy and retirement.
Prolonged austerity has challenged traditional ways of recruiting, retaining, managing and rewarding talent. Public sector organisations have been shrunk. Early retirements, redundancies and management culls have been the key feature in workforce strategies. Experienced staff have left, those remaining have seen rewards reduced, restructuring and reorganisation have provided opportunities for a few but many found themselves redeployed to do more often for less. The public sector is less attractive to work for. So how do you attract, develop, manage and keep happy the talent you need?
Focus on managers.
It's managers who develop talent and keep people happy so an updated workforce strategy for a shrinking public sector organisation should focus on developing the people skills of their existing managers. The strategy is about rediscovering neglect talent. Most organisations focus on spotting and developing future high flyers they neglect the majority and write off a minority as no hopers. Whilst the high flyers benefit they invariably leave. All managers at the time of their appointment were seen as competent, with appropriate skills and knowledge or else they wouldn't have been appointed. In some cases they haven't grown after the initial period in post /first 12 months, in others the job that they are expected to do is very different to the one they were originally appointed to do, some have become frustrated others cynical and some have responded to the insecurity and increased pressure by coasting. It's not hard to imagine the effect this has on the staff they manage, the development and retention of talent and the reputation of the organisation which in turn effects the ability to attract talent.
Management development is either restricted to the few or is focused on the practical,improving budget management, understanding performance indicators, getting to grips with your responsibilities under health and safety or policy and procedures for those involved in recruiting staff. To improve managers people management skills first they must gain insight into how their behaviour affects those they work with. When senior managers gain this insight they are more likely to address deficits in their listening skills, more concerned with opening up conversations rather than closing them down and more wiling to persuade rather than impose. This in turn has an impact on middle managers who feel more engaged and valued. First line managers have a model to follow. I have experience this being achieved through executive coaching, where an independent management consultant observes a manager in a series of work situations ( team meeting, report to senior management team, annual appraisal meeting, one to one supervision,back to work interview, meeting with partner agency) and provides detailed feedback.
Where managers people management skills have been improved staff report less management bullying, less mistrust of senior management, lower levels of absenteeism,greater confidence in line management and higher reports of feeling valued. This is an environment that effectively develops and retains talent even those who were once written off as no hopers.
Blair Mcpherson former Director of community services, author and blogger
For a detailed case study on introducing executive coaching for all managers in a large complex public sector organisation see Equipping managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House free to download at www.blairmcpherson.co.uk