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the introduction of the Grid helped to get development conversations on the radar and engender a greater focus on development by managers. Where managers were skilled

at giving constructive feedback and having open, engaging conversations with their staff , the Grid was a useful prompt. Where managers were not so skilled, there was little evidence of the Grid driving a diff erent, more devel- opmental approach, unless appropriate support was given to managers.


framework for opening up dialogue about the broader potential of people in diff erent areas of the business, and led to some useful discussions about how to fi nd new or diff erent ways of developing and nurturing talent. Where managers were not involved in these debates, they often struggled to think how best to provide devel- opment opportunities for their staff .

Create a clear strategy

To our surprise, we found that while the majority of high potential employees felt motivated by their rating, one-third felt it didn’t change anything and another one in ten felt less positive about their future in the organisation. A further two-fi fths of employees rated as ‘medium potential’ felt switched off by their experience. Digging deeper, the real reason

for this was raised, and then unmet, expectations. A lack of clarity about what it meant to be regarded as a ‘high potential’, and what opportunities would follow, left many feeling let down. ❝ “A sense of unfulfi lled expectation

was left hanging after the exercise. I felt ‘so what’, and the high potentials I know often had a high expectation of development or promotion that simply wasn’t managed or fulfi lled.” “‘I understood where I was positioned

and why, but could see no clear link to future opportunities within the organisation.” Too often, then, there was a lack

of clear strategy behind the use of the Grid and a lack of joined-up thinking. T is was particularly needed where there was an intention for the Grid to help encourage and facilitate movement across the organisation, changing expectations around how people are managed and developed. “T e biggest issue is: what’s next? Is it just a tick-box exercise or will it become something that has more of a cultural shift in how opportunities for development are made available?”

Constructive feedback

T roughout the research, we were interested in exploring whether or not

Managers need to give their views on what potential looks like

Managers who had the right kind of

support spoke of asking more questions, employing higher-level listening skills, and feeling more open and less defensive when discussing ratings. “I think if you are honest with yourself,

you know where you sit on the Grid, but there is a great value in being told as it leads to a meaningful conversation about what development is needed. It could be a life-changing conversation. If people think they are stuck in a box then it will have no value, but if they can see it as a stepping stone for development, then it has.”

Dif�icult conversations

In our discussions, managers revealed they found some types of employees more diffi cult to rate and have conver-

sations with than others. T ese include: ` `

Ambitious employees seeking quick progression Individuals who are highly ambitious, but not yet showing all the characteristics necessary to be rated as high potential caused some diffi cult conversations to take place, in order to re-establish expectations.


Technical experts If the defi nition of talent in an organisation is more about leadership than technical expertise, technical experts may be rated as ‘low potential’, which in some cases led managers to be concerned about the potential motivational impact on these employees.


Demotivated employees Employees who were demotivated, perhaps

 | October 2016 | 21

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