How can I spot and develop potential?

This article is part of
Guide to succession planning

How can I spot and develop potential?

A crucial part of succession planning is being able to identify the talent of the future. In other words those who will become the next level of managers or leaders and drive the business forward.

Helen Floor, founder and managing director of 1-1 Recruitment in Hampshire believes potential can be singled out through careful research. She says: “It’s important to be able to work closely with your teams but also having a trusting relationship with your employees.”

This means taking time to socialise with your workforce. This can help you to understand more about their wants and needs in an informal setting without work pressures impinging on the conversation.

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She adds: “On a more formal note, I think it’s important to have a mechanism where you can nurture talent and help employees channel their ambitions by setting goals and objectives to help them progress.”

>It is usually difficult for an individual to move out of the retail sector but a few years ago I secured a job for a retail candidate in an HR role. --- Helen Floor

This, she explains, can work alongside the more traditional approach “Many organisations still have a traditional annual appraisal, which many people like, but at 1-1 Recruitment our talent management system is set up for regular catch ups where we can ensure our employees are on track with any progression training or personal development planning.”

David Murphy, managing director of Talent Acumen, agrees that the best way to spot potential is to understand your team members and identity their work ethic.

He says: “You can do this by looking at their willingness to learn, persistence when taking on a challenging task and resilience when things go wrong. It’s all about attitude."

“Strong communication and influencing skills, an aptitude to understand technical job briefs, flair for selling to a client, and a strong overall performance of function and job remit are also key - but you’ll know when you have someone worth keeping hold of if you really understand their character and personality, and whether it’s a strong fit with your own company culture.”

Carnegie's theories

Ms Floor is a fan of Dale Carnegie’s theories and her business uses some of his methodology to create personal development programmes for people considered to have potential.  She explains that this includes ensuring any skills gaps are addressed.

She says: “For example I’ve currently earmarked a couple of individuals within the group who have shown promise in the area of client development; they need more sales skills, so sales skills training has become a part of their development path.”

“When we send people on professional development courses we take our part in it very seriously and ensure that, as managers of the participants, we review their progress and watch them present at the end of their course."

“We also set stretch objectives in line with any progression training and check these in monthly meetings; a lot can happen in a year when someone is developing so I feel that development needs to be watched closely, with open feedback and ongoing support.”