Talent management is essential to both the future of the sector and the organisations that make it. Consequently it makes sense to work together to provide what many cannot do on their own.
Let’s Push Things Forward
As Adam Clark noted we still have an issue with people ‘falling’ into the sector like it’s a good thing. Certainly it’s the standard joke at any housing event I’ve been to. But clichés aside we’re still behind on nurturing talent and promoting the sector as a career of choice. Part of the issue is due to the disparate nature of the beast. Whilst there are some behemoths about, the majority fall into the Small to Medium Enterprise category. Whilst not intrinsically a bad thing, it means it’s doubly hard to set up AND maintain talent programmes. They require time, effort and drive. Lose one or two key staff members and the programme falls by the wayside.
The NHF has the Young Leaders events, the CIH has the Rising Stars, both are great for highlighting the potential we have in the sector. Having met winners and finalists of both they are humble, ambitious and utterly talented people. But it strikes me that few have been able to slot into follow-on talent development programmes. The kudos gained from entering national competitions has helped get them noticed but what happens afterwards? Elsewhere the GEM Programme is an exceptional means by which to get graduates into the sector. But again, what happens after the initial placements end? How do we, as a sector, manage the undoubtedly talented guys and gals that we have?
Ducks fly together
It’s normally at this point in a blog about personal development that Richard Branson is quoted. This blog is no different. For me, the two most notable ones from him/Virgin more generally are:
Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.
If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.
They’re great quotes, and great principles to work towards but where are Housing’s Richard Bransons? I fully agree with Nick Atkin that we need to change our shop window. But to do that we need to have an honest look at ourselves, at who we want to be as organisations and as a sector. I’ve no doubt that many organisations want to develop and invest in their staff above and beyond what they already do. But whilst that willingness may be there in terms of developing talent, the ability to do so might not be.
For me what is needed is a sector wide development programme. One that allows the participants to work within different organisations as well as between different departments as is usually the case. As I’ve said before, we’re pretty darn good at sharing knowledge and best practice. Why not share the nurturing of the talent that will drive us forward?
The advantage of working together is the shared benefits. Organisations without the ability to provide talent programmes of their own would be able to offer their staff an opportunity to develop that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Bigger organisations could benefit from an outside view of their systems and processes that could be otherwise drowned out. There’s also potential to help even out the mix and match talent managment programmes the sector currently has. Everybody wins.
This approach might not work for all, but the worst that will happen is that we just return to what we’re doing now. Hardly the end of the world in terms of risk, so why not try?