Leadership: finding and nurturing future civil service talent

The civil service and other public sector organisations must look to their current employees for development and leadership roles if they are to succeed, says Cornerstone OnDemand 

08 Jul 2015

Following the UK general election, we found our country in a political limbo, with no leader for three of the major parties. Unlike royalty with clearly defined succession lines, political parties are without an heir; their future rests on who they appoint as the best candidate. 

Who is the right choice? Who has the best skills for the job? Who can manage a team? The way we look at political successors shouldn’t be dissimilar to how we review business roles when management-level employees depart, and in the same way that these parties will look within their own memberships for new leaders, businesses need to look to their current employees for development and leadership roles.

Find your leaders while they’re young
Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce within six years, and in a time where talent retention is becoming more and more difficult, recognising potential leaders among this age group early and developing their skills is vital. 

The Deloitte 2014 Millennial Survey showed that 60% of respondents said a “sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose their employer, indicating a clear investment in employee learning and development may be more likely to make young talent stay.

Likewise, Generation Z need jobs that they love, and have distinct motivations and expectations for their career paths. So how can businesses take these traits and develop the best young talent in the business into leaders? 

Build up the best

Let them rise 
Top performers are typically ambitious people, and so naturally want career progression. However, this doesn’t have to be progression at another organisation if you allow them to rotate and move internally. Managers should encourage and support their best talent if they want to try out a new department and reward them with experience.

Work out their values
For some it’s money, for others it’s flexibility – regardless, managers must figure out what their key performers value in a job role. If your talent is performing well and getting their job done, ask about their ideal work situation and see if you can adapt their job role to their values.  

Invest in your talent
Constant learning allows for constant improvement, and even the brightest employees need to develop their skills to become great leaders. Ensure your employees have the chance to attend training courses or conferences; while they cost money, they’re cheaper than replacing staff who leave.

Give constructive criticism
Great talent needs to be recognised, but you should also be looking out for areas of improvement. The most ambitious employees will use constructive criticism to better themselves and work out how to get to their next promotion by improving their skills. 

Lead by example
No employee is going to be inspired by a mediocre manager. Focus on always bringing your best self to work, provide clear direction and targets, stay fair, and try to solve problems quickly. Ensure you’re appropriately disciplining slack employees and rewarding those who perform well. After all, toxic employees aren’t helping great talent stick around.

Remove the roadblocks
HR departments need to get rid of employees who make good talent move on. Research from Cornerstone OnDemand’s ‘Toxic Employees in the Workplace’ report shows toxic employees – those who won’t help others, are consistently late, and are consistently unreliable – make their colleagues 54 per cent more likely to quit, and also cost employers up to three times more in hiring fees.

The report warns that toxic employees affect small and large companies alike, and HR departments should look out for self-proclaimed rule followers, those over-confident with technical abilities, and those who prioritise quantity of work over quality are the most likely to end up being toxic employees.

While no strategy is fool proof in retaining talent and creating great leaders, steps such as these can give employers the best chance possible. Talent management software, such as that provided by Cornerstone OnDemand, can smoothen out these processes and automate them for HR departments so training and development is as simple as possible.

To find out more about engaging and retaining talented civil servants, click here

For more information visit http://www.cornerstoneondemand.co.uk/ 

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