Identifying and nurturing internal talent

Guest Blog from Anja Henschel-Idriss, Head of People Operations at Portico, discussing succession planning and how to identify internal talent.

Succession planning has become a core part of many businesses’ management and development programmes, and is key to our HR approach at Portico. With the industry projecting a potential decline in recruitment following Brexit and The British Hospitality Association claiming it could take up to 10 years to replace EU migrant workers, creating a pipeline of talented individuals could prove invaluable to maintaining a company’s success.

Succession planning begins with identifying high-potential employees at all levels from within the business. This requires a proactive approach of implementing a process for individuals to be recognised, rather than reacting when your business is faced with a skills gap or vacant role.

Identifying talent 
Open communication with all employees should be ingrained within a company’s ethos. At Portico, we value and encourage feedback. We know giving our employees an equal voice, breaks down any pre-conceived barriers of hierarchy. It fosters a culture of collaboration between managers and their teams, which creates a happier and productive workplace. 

This can be achieved with regular performance and career reviews that explore competencies, challenges and aspirations. Managers need to be engaged with every step of an employee’s desired career path in order to help them progress. Fuelling your team’s passions by creating opportunities and active encouragement, helps to build trust between a company and employee, often leading to long retention as career goals are being listened to and supported.

Once regular communication channels are established, an assessment tool can further highlight both strengths and gaps for improvement. One way we do this at Portico is with the nine-box grid method – a simple table graph that rates the potential of an employee on the Y axis versus their performance on the X axis.

The vertical columns of the grid identify growth potential, and the horizontal rows identify whether the employee is below, meeting or exceeding performance expectations in his or her current role. This standardised method, identifies individuals in the upper right quadrant as high-potential candidates in a company’s succession plan that could progress faster into leadership roles, supported with training and development. Those highlighted in the lower quadrants can be identified as needing further support or training to progress their development.

Nurturing and retaining talent 
Once potential talent has been recognised, it should be nurtured with individualised and structured progression plans. For high potential, high performance individuals these ideally lasting between six and twelve months. When using the nine-box grid assessment tool these plans can directly correlate to the employee’s position on the grid. Those in the upper quadrants can be given targets and specific training that will set them up for a potential future leadership position. Those in the lower quadrants will also be provided with supportive coaching and training to help them fulfil their potential in an existing job role. Each plan should be tailored to the individual in order to help them achieve their set professional goals and be followed up with regular reviews. A clear and structured plan can help an employee to understand the expectations of the business whilst feeling valued and supported.

A strong succession plan can become part of an employee retention strategy and further benefit a business. Employee development and training demonstrates a commitment to employees and shows them they have a future in the organisation. It also helps create a culture of innovation and empowerment, in which employees know they are valued and are therefore motivated to strive for excellence, reducing the risk of them taking their experience and skills elsewhere.

Portico has a proven culture for developing and retaining internal talent and has implemented a number of talent planning tools including the nine-box grid method. In the last eight months Portico has seen 30 staff promoted, a 66% increase on the same period in 2016, and 44 internal transfers, a 46% increase on last year.

Ewa Dabydoyal is a success story of Portico’s succession planning, having been promoted from Team Leader to Assistant Client Services Manager. She volunteered to be an internal operations auditor, before taking part in the business’ unique Leadership Academy. This development programme (equivalent to ILM level 3, in 2014/15), sees each participant choose a project to develop and implement at their site. Being an operations auditor has been close to Ewa’s heart and she aspired to develop the client journey further and chose this as her project, culminating in a formal project presentation to Managing Director Simon Pratt.

Portico’s highly skilled and passionate workforce provide front of house services including reception, meeting room management, concierge, switchboard and helpdesk services to a number of high-profile sites across the UK.

Author: Kate Thomas

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