3. Deploying talent

The overarching principle of a sustainable approach to talent management is to have the right people with the right capabilities, motivations and commitment in the right part of the organisation to deliver and lead the business strategies.

High-performing organisations foster this sustainability continuously and purposefully, ensuring that the decisions they make about deployment are aligned with their organisational vision and strategy.

NHS organisations are often described as having a high-challenge, low-support culture. If we see junior or emerging leaders as likely senior managers and leaders of the future we must ask ‘what is this experience teaching them?’

The chief executive and senior leaders play an essential role in encouraging managers to share talent across the organisation to avoid thinking in siloes or assuming linear progression. You can do this by supporting stretch assignments and rotating leadership roles, giving those who have potential leadership talent the opportunity to fill gaps in a different part of the organisation or system, or lead innovation and change. For example, a director of nursing might identify a nurse who has skills that would enable them to work as a chief operating officer or a workforce specialist.

Successful deployment of workforce talent is about rethinking your view of your employees. They are not assets to be managed but rather people with options who have chosen to invest their aspirations and motivations with your organisation for a while and who will expect a reasonable return on their investment in the form of personal growth and opportunities.

Smart organisations offer staff stretch opportunities within the business: these allow motivated individuals to work a set number of days per week or month in a completely different discipline or department. This enables them to explore their transferable skills, their intellectual flexibility and offers the opportunity to develop their leadership potential.

The board needs to be aware of its role as a key influencer of a talent ethos and in creating a culture of nurturing, developing and deploying talent in the organisation. The board should also convey the importance of collective leadership responsibility by equipping managers with the necessary skills to enable them to feel confident and comfortable with making deployment decisions.

Questions to consider

  • How aligned are your business, workforce and talent management strategies?
  • Are your talent management processes meeting the most critical business needs?
  • How creative are you in your approaches to deploying talent?

Next: succession planning