Why spotting and rewarding talent is more important than ever
"With an ageing population and the threat of tighter immigration controls, the sector has a challenge to attract and retain talent."
Chan Kataria, Group Chief Executive
Speaking at a recent East Midlands Chamber event on diversity in the East Midlands, I was struck by the huge range of talented people in the room.
They were from different sectors, backgrounds and communities. I remember thinking how our organisations would be much more effective if we can harness all that ability, energy and commitment.
The profile of our sector and leadership needs to be more diverse. Diversity is not just about protected characteristics – it is as much about diverse thinking and people who look and think differently from our mainstream leaders. Incidentally, I’m not talking about Dominic Cummings’ rather provocative call to hire “weirdos and misfits”.
My sense is that this shift is beginning to take place.
We at emh group are trying to capture this within our strategies to recruit and manage talent in the workplace. Investing in a workforce for the future is about having the right approach to recruitment, learning, coaching and staff engagement.
Our own award-winning apprenticeship programme is one example, with apprentices covering a range of areas in within the business, from customer-facing services and maintenance to backroom functions such as finance and ICT. It is open to people of all ages, including those wishing to consider different career options.
This includes a multi-level programme ranging from functional skills training at one end to a post-graduate level qualification at the other.
Taking people successfully through a programme is one thing, but we need to have plans for what comes next to create the right environment for people to flourish.
We are trying two particular approaches that are having a strong impact on staff morale and engagement. It is fair to say, however, we’re on a journey and are far from the end point.
The first is our culture development programme, which helps to measure alignment between personal, team and organisational values.
The simple truism is that the higher the degree of alignment between the values of employees and those of the wider organisation, the greater the degree of staff engagement. Greater engagement generally leads to higher commitment and performance.
This Barrett Values method ensures that employees come up with ideas on how to improve the degree of alignment within the team. The beauty is that we can measure changes in cultural alignment over time. This empowers our colleagues to drive the changes they want to see to create their vision of the future.
The key to this is getting to the heart of what matters to each and every individual and at the same time getting them to harness their collective values to create ways of working that bring out the best in everyone and create greater authenticity.
We now have a two-year programme to roll it out across the rest of the organisation through seven of our own leaders who have been trained as qualified practitioners.
The second approach is our talent mapping tool. This enables leaders to identify those with high potential within our existing employee population by using factors such as ability, aspiration and engagement.
Ability is ascertained by using a range of measures, such as objective performance and leadership behaviours. The use of a 360° perception provides a rounded view of the individual and their potential. Alongside this, leaders use their coaching skills to understand the aspirations of their colleagues.
It is of course vital that talent management opportunities are clear and transparent across the business with opportunities for all employees and not just seen as for a select few.
Redefining talent means we must also take account of what’s happening out there. The Social Housing Green Paper talks about the need for greater consumerism and professionalism in our sector and our strategies should reflect this. This is at the heart of what the Chartered Institute of Housing is focusing on.
With a lower proportion of people in the working-age population and tighter immigration controls, the scarcity of skills is likely to become more acute – and the need to focus on recruiting and building talent in the workplace is more important than ever.
This sits well with the values of our sector and we have an opportunity to lead the way here.