Forget about the high fliers if you want to improve company performance

Written by Ashwin Rattan Saturday, 26 May 2012 12:55
Rate this item
(3 votes)


Results of five-year study shifts focus from ‘high fliers’ to ‘average people’ 


Many widely adopted approaches to improving corporate performance are time consuming, expensive and disruptive according to Colin Coulson-Thomas author of a new report Talent Management 2.


The University of Greenwich investigator argues “by the time many initiatives are implemented requirements and priorities may have changed, while opportunities are often missed during transformation journeys.”


The report follows a five-year investigation of different corporate practices.


It sets out a more affordable approach to creating high performance organisations. According to Coulson-Thomas: “We need to shift the emphasis from recruiting and developing high fliers for an unknown future to helping people to excel at activities that are crucial today and to handle challenges as, when and wherever they arise.”


The evidence examined by Coulson-Thomas suggests the approaches of many organisations are costly and doomed to disappoint. Over three quarters of practitioners participating in a poll during the investigation thought talent management is not delivering. About a half thought opportunities are being missed.


Coulson-Thomas finds “Talent wars to attract ‘the best people’ can push up salary costs, be distracting and involve collateral damage. Talented people can also be difficult to manage and retain. A person who is exceptional in one area may be average in another. It may be cheaper to work with the people one has and put the right support environment in place to enable them to succeed.”


The professor’s study found “Large amounts are spent on expensive people who are not engaged, effectively used, or appropriately supported. Views of what represents ‘top talent’ can also quickly become outdated. We need more flexible ways of making it easier for affordable people to understand complex issues, and helping them to do important, difficult and stressful jobs.”


Talent Management 2 focuses on particular jobs and the requirements for succeeding in them. It involves assessing the roles and tasks that contribute most to priority objectives and ensuring that people in these jobs are enabled to excel by putting relevant critical success factors in place and providing the workgroups concerned with appropriate performance support.


The Talent Management 2 report draws upon a programme of critical success factor surveys. The experience of twelve adopters of performance support was examined to assess their results and implications. The evidence suggests performance support is a focused, relatively quick and cost-effective way of securing large returns on investment. It can engage people and meet a talent-on-demand requirement.


Coulson-Thomas feels: “Paying for talented people may make little sense for organisations that cannot harness, or capture and share, what they do differently. We need to move on from single-issue initiatives such as preparing a few ‘high fliers’ for an unknown future to boosting the performance of today’s key workgroups and quickly delivering multiple benefits for both people and organisations.”


He concludes: “We also need an affordable approach which can achieve improved results by taking people as they are, rather than as we would like them to be. Performance support offers a way of achieving a high performance organisation and multiple objectives with the people one has - average people who do not cost an arm and a leg to recruit and retain - and an existing corporate culture.


Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, author of Talent Management 2 has received international recognition for his work as a change agent and transformation leader. He is an experienced vision holder of successful transformation programmes and founder chairman of award winning companies and a part-time academic at the University of Greenwich . Formerly the world’s first professor of corporate transformation, he has helped over 100 boards and management teams to improve performance.


To view the talent management report, click here

Add comment