Top tips for effective talent management

Share this page

Written by Alice Withers on 10 September 2014

I’ve highlighted previously why it’s important to address your talent management strategy, and this month I thought I would highlight the various ways you can go about this, along with some hints and tips on how to get the most out of talent management solutions.

360 degree reviews are an ideal way to get insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your managers. They are generally used for senior managers and consist of an online questionnaire where managers rate themselves against set criteria. Other people they work with, including line managers, direct reports and colleagues, then complete a similar questionnaire and rate the manager against the same questions. The reviews can also provide insight into the levels of teamwork in your organisation and can be an extremely useful aid for succession planning.

Top tips for conducting 360 degree reviews:

  • Ask for respondents’ names – although this may seem counterintuitive, it is important as it stops the same respondent completing the survey more than once. This has been known to happen where there is conflict between two team members and prevents an accurate assessment of performance.
  • Reassure respondents of their anonymity – although this goes somewhat against the above point, it is important to make sure that respondents know whatever they say will not be linked to them in any way. Using an outside organisation to conduct the surveys can help with this issue.

Employee engagement surveys are an effective way to find out how your staff really feel and can help to address issues such as poor retention levels and aid succession planning.

Top tips for conducting employee engagement surveys:

  • Make the survey anonymous – this will encourage respondents to answer honestly and give you the best insight. Again, using an outside company can help make sure people are giving you truthful answers.
  • Include an open response question – this is key as it gives respondents the opportunity to bring up issues you may not be aware of. It can take a considerable amount of time to analyse responses to an open question, so limiting them is best and I would recommend including only one.
  • Communicate with your staff – make sure they know why you are conducting the survey and that you plan to act on the basis of the results; this will motivate them to fill out the survey and to be honest. Once the survey is completed you should communicate the results and any changes that will be made on the back of them.
  • Don’t make the survey too long – no one wants to spend hours filling out a questionnaire so make sure you keep the number of questions down, but also make sure you are covering all the important areas.

After getting the results of your employee engagement survey you may find that a number of your employees don’t feel they have received adequate training to do their job. However you might not know which areas they need training in or if there are issues across certain roles or in specific locations. This is where training needs assessments can help. They assess your staff’s skills and abilities in a number of areas and find out if they want to improve in that area.

Top tips for conducting training needs assessments:

  • Align the questions with the training you have available – this is a good place to start as it will help you to form the questions and highlight areas where you don’t have any training options. Make sure you also include questions about areas you don’t currently offer training in, but be prepared to tackle any skills needs that you discover.
  • Look for patterns in the results – you may discover that there are issues in one particular department or in one role across a number of departments or locations. Although this type of analysis can be time consuming, it can really provide insights into the most effective ways to deliver training and address skill needs.


Finally, whenever you are conducting training ask yourself whether it is really going to lead to a return on investment. It’s not always appropriate to conduct a full training evaluation for every programme, but there are some key points you should consider, such as:

  • Is the training directly targeting problem areas?
  • Do staff know why they are attending the course?
  • Is the information provided on the course new or just a refresher?
  • Do your staff have the time and resources to implement the new procedures and behaviours they have learnt?
  • Do you know what the full cost (including staff time) of the training is? And is it likely to provide a return on investment?

Useful advice on how to avoid the common pitfalls of training evaluation can be found in a previous blog post.

About the author
Alice Withers is a researcher at People 1st. She can be contacted at

Related Articles