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Five Insights - Talent Development

I thought I would share with you my top 5 insights for impactful and successful talent development and will expand on each insight over the next few months:


Insight One – Don’t worry too much about your framework

Insight Two – Do validate your emerging talent

Insight Three – Do ensure your emerging talent is up for the terrain ahead

Insight Four – Do ensure the development is sponsored by the board

Insight Five – Do make sure you can demonstrate and measure success


Insight One – Don’t worry too much about your framework

If there is one thing I have learnt after practising talent development over the years, it’s to keep things simple. Let me ask you a couple of questions:

  • How engaged are your managers and leaders with your current talent management framework?

  • How much time and resource are you using to encourage managers and employees to complete the plethora of forms or on-line tools within prescriptive timescales to collate your talent data?

The reality is that most managers and leaders have a fair idea of who their talent is (in terms of performance and ability) and who they are proactively sponsoring as future talent. So as an organisation it’s a decision of effort vs outcome. Is the completion of evidence-based documents, 9 box grids and cycles of moderation really giving you a more accurate understanding of who your genuine talent really is?

I would argue you are gaining very little (at this stage) and have learnt that a 9-box grid is a great tool to start a conversation and begin to surface emerging talent but should not be where the effort of managers, leaders and HR professionals should be focused.


I love a 9-box grid, it’s a friendly tool and should be easy to use. I have adapted my use of the tool over the years to a point where it is simply a discussion document with very clear and basic definitions, avoiding the need for the collation of loads of evidence of employee behaviours and performance against multiple criteria.

There is no point on getting hung up on ‘is Sarah in the right box?’ and spending hours debating the point at moderation sessions. Have you noticed that most of the effort (I would say 80:20) is spent in the arguments of getting people in the right box rather than, how are we going to develop this person and the next steps?

This part of the process should be just a moment in time conversation, we shouldn’t be locking people in boxes and once they are in a box they stay in a box.


Talent management should be an on-going, agile conversation. I have learnt that you need to flip the approach so that its 20:80.

Only 20% of the effort should be spent at this stage of the process and 80% of effort on the validation of the emerging talent and how they are going to be developed.


So how do we do this?


I’ll reveal all during my next instalment – Insight 2 – Validating your emerging talent!

Your talent shouldn't be locked in one box forever - use agile approaches to talent development


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Beverley Stewart 

Managing Director

United Kingdom

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Tel: 07914 383334

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