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Managing talent a greater priority than productivity, innovation or customer focus?

January 23, 2017



According to the latest edition of the CIPD’s HR Outlook: Views of our Profession, Winter 2016-17 report, from the survey commissioned by YouGov, managing talent is seen as being more important than concentrating on productivity, innovation or customer focus. The suggestion, from over 600 responses from organisations in the public and private arena, is that without the right people on board, organisations are likely to be constantly playing catch-up in other business areas. If, as Richard Branson suggests, organisations focus on their employees first, they in turn will take care of everything else.


The survey report goes on to explore the top leadership skills and behaviours that will be needed over the next three years, as the UK navigates what could be the greatest change in the working landscape since the introduction of the desktop computer. The top three in order of importance are:


1. Performance management

2. People management

3. Developing staff


When it comes to senior leadership’s current competence in these areas, the responses make for disheartening reading; the consensus suggests senior leaders must do better.


1. Performance management 

  • 45% rated them somewhat or very effective

  • 53% rated them somewhat or very ineffective


2. People management

  • 55% rated them somewhat or very effective

  • 43% rated them somewhat or very ineffective


3. Developing staff

  • 60% rated them somewhat or very effective

  • 40% rated them as somewhat or very ineffective


(Percentages may not equal 100% as there was a ‘don’t know’ option)


Senior leaders’ technical, financial and operational capabilities were rated significantly higher, suggesting that many of those in senior positions continue to carry out hands-on activities rather than managing, coaching and developing others to take them on. Interestingly and perhaps unsurprisingly, employee engagement and motivation did not fare well in the ratings.


Perhaps delegation skills should have been added to the list of skills rated.


The report’s authors conclude:


"These findings suggest that most organisations would benefit from targeted investment in their leadership capability, particularly on people issues."



Last year’s survey was similarly downbeat:


"Leadership capability was among the top challenges that both HR and non-HR leaders reported ‘keeps them awake at night’."


In the light of this report, we are offering a complimentary 30-minute telephone coaching session with one of our leadership development specialists to the first 10 HR or line managers who apply, to help you get clarity on your leadership priorities for 2017. Please call (0)20 7183 0081 or email us on info@management-learning.co.uk to arrange your session.


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