Talent Management: The future of talent

Focusing on global mobility
Dean Kimpton, MD, AECOM NZ

Globally, AECOM provides professional, technical and management support services to markets ranging from transportation and facilities through to environmental, energy, water and government, and employs some 45,000 people around the world. That global network provides unique opportunities for the staff of AECOM in New Zealand, and managing director Dean Kimpton sees it as one of the key factors driving future talent identification and development.
“We have huge number of opportunities for people to work on short- or long-term assignments anywhere in the world. It’s appealing for lot of our people and gives us very good look at how they grow in response to change – different hierarchies and cultures, language, different ways of doing things – and their potential in the business. The global mobility of our people will be increasingly important in the way we identify and develop talent,” he says.
Over the past three to four years the company here has put lot of emphasis on defining what sort of people it needs to lead the business into the future. Kimpton says understanding what those candidates look like – as in who they are – makes really important difference.
“When I’m involved in interviews I always look at their character, whether they will fit the culture and if they have the competencies we need, either demonstrated or potential. Often it’s presumed that talent means the leadership component. I work on the assumption that all the talent we’ve got is important, although not all talent is equal.”
Kimpton says in recent years the company has put more rigour into assessing performance and potential, including an online system for learning and development, and personal assessment that looks at both how the individual is performing and their potential. The resulting talent index helps inform development decisions and also leads through into the reward and recognition part of the business.
“As well as talent identification, there’s also readiness,” he says. “You’re looking to create opportunities for people, but you need to be able to understand when they’re ready to take those on because you don’t want them to crash and burn. How people respond to opportunities or to being thrown in at the deep end is really important in identifying their performance and potential.”
AECOM NZ has strong learning and development programme that allows managers to see where people fit and to identify talent from an internal perspective.
“One example is our graduate programme that takes university graduates through series of skill development programmes. These could include every-thing from our quality systems and how we deliver projects, through to how we manage risk, and people skills such as interaction with clients and how to build teams. They work together as group, typically in one to two day sessions over three years. It’s been of huge benefit to the business.”
Any employee with three to 10 years’ experience can join AECOM NZ’S HYPE (Helping Young Professionals Excel) group.
“These people want to make difference and we provide them with opportunities to step up and lead,” says Kimpton. “The group organises training and development events, encourages and supports social and professional networking, and assists with the graduate mentoring pro-cess. They also assist with or lead different business initiatives. In 2012/13 the HYPE group is responsible for the innovation/new ways of doing business initiative in the Strategic Plan.”
AECOM also puts staff through internally-developed team leadership development programmes, which provide another opportunity to look at leaders’ and developing leaders’ skills and abilities.
“There are lot of tools for identifying talent that help automate the process but I don’t think you can ever fully automate talent identification, recruitment and development. Ultimately what works best is culture. You have to create the right culture of opportunity where you can take risks and do things – that is the best way to develop your talent.”

Identifying leadership success
Kate Daly, group GM, HR, Fletcher Building

With 20,000 employees and operations spanning 40 different countries, group general manager, HR Kate Daly somewhat wryly describes Fletcher Building’s talent management process as “slightly more complicated” than that of most New Zealand businesses.
The past three to four years have seen considerable change in the business and the competitive landscape in all the company’s markets. As result Fletcher Building is currently redesigning its talent management process, with particular emphasis on executive career planning and development.
As first step the company has identified the key leadership practices it requires, and retained international business psychologists YSC to assess senior managers’ capabilities and competencies against its long-running and extensive international database of successful global leaders.
“You can’t do any of this in isolation from the business,” emphasises Daly. “It has to align with the business strategy and with the global market. We’re doing lot of work on identifying executive competencies and capabilities so we can be more on the front foot with their career development and planning.”
Daly says general managers and chief executives have been interviewed, markets examined, and the practices required of its leaders have been identified.
“Then we’ve set out the principles from which our talent management framework will develop: differentiation, sustainability, transparency, accountability and integration.
“We’ve assessed all our high potential general managers and chief general manager, chief executive and CEO roles. We want to be very clear in our thinking about what success as leader looks like within Fletcher Building, by level and type of role across different business units because that forms the basis of how we identify and develop talent.
“Strategic initiatives that feed off this will be our succession planning, leadership development and targeted outsourcing… so when we go to recruit [externally] for leaders and managers we know exactly what we’re looking for, because we know exactly what we need for the next 5-10 year journey.”
Daly points out that planning career for someone in their mid-20s involves around 25 years of career management, and an integral part of building talent pipeline is understanding what experiences someone aspiring to be chief executive needs to have.
“When YSC has finished its assessment of our general managers and CEs we’ll be able to benchmark our internal capability and talent against the [global] market, and identify the gaps where we’ll focus leadership development.
“Leaders will have very tailored individual development plan based on their career aspirations. It won’t just be ‘go off and do this leadership programme’, it’ll be specifically tailored against the competence and experience we need at CE level assessed against where they are now. The feedback we’ve had is that our leaders want that clarity – what do I need to do, how do I need to develop and what roles do I need to move into to become successful CE.”
Sarah Naude, formerly senior organisational development consultant with Telecom, has come to Fletcher Building to spearhead the redesign of the talent identification and management pro-cess. She says over the next two years the simplified, more strategically aligned leadership development framework will permeate Fletcher Building, from emerging frontline leaders, through to regional and general managers.
While elements will differ, the objective will be to offer people that show potential early on opportunities for accelerated development and breadth of experience. This will build very clear picture of the talent pipeline globally, and also the best development roles in FB business units internationally.
“One of the challenges we have

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