Don't Let Expertise Leak Away

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 7, 2004 | Go to article overview

Don't Let Expertise Leak Away


Byline: Sion Barry

Businesses should take a leaf out of the world of sport in ensuring that when key personnel leave they have appropriate succession plans in place, argues human resources expert Simon Wiltshire

YOU can bet that Neath- Swansea Ospreys had a contingency plan to cope with the departure of former Wales and Lions centre Scott Gibbs following his retirement from professional rugby last month.

Having already quit the Test arena in 2001, it was inevitable that the 33 year-old would not spend too many more years in the fray - and his club would have prepared a damage limitation programme. If only all businesses would do the same.

Managers know that talented people outgrow their posts and want to move on. Once they achieve what they set out to, they reach a threshold in their career and want to apply their excellence elsewhere.

It's a major problem for all organisations, public or private sector, throughout Wales and worldwide.

Talented staff are often looking for that next step on the career ladder. (A word of warning here: while development is one of the key factors in job satisfaction, not all those who wish to progress are ready to do so. A primary reason for poor performance is promotion beyond competence).

Additionally, it's often the case that firms don't have the space to promote. The larger organisations such as the civil service have job grades and pay scales that allow individuals to make progress within their grade to a higher salary.

That allows greater flexibility and also provides warning signs or navigation lights that a person is about to reach that peak in their current post.

The role of HR consultancies is to advise businesses how to manage this natural process and help them retain expertise and develop emerging talent.

We believe that the key is to engage with people early when they're thinking about their next move and to take them by the hand and walk with them, rather than permitting a discreet process of disengagement to take place.

This can be achieved through appraisals and personal development reviews in formal terms, but the natural interpersonal relationships constantly at play in the office are not to be overlooked.

There are inevitably those who see jobs as individual stepping-stones and will never stay long, no matter how many incentives you provide.

In that case, you should acknowledge the successes of these people and hold them up as champions.

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