Talent development is key to HR success

A common difficulty faced by human resources managers is developing raw potential into real talent, and if you promote mainly from within, graduate recruitment takes on epic significance, says Donna Miller, European HR director at Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Almost all of the most common difficulties in HR come within the sphere of talent management. The process begins with identifying talent: how do organisations gather the brightest minds in the land?

Of course, this is just the first part of the challenge. Developing talent is perhaps the trickiest step – how do you transform raw potential into talented employees? Then comes the final part of the jigsaw, deploying the talent once you’ve got it.

Having the right employees but using them in the wrong way is a mistake far too many employers make. At Enterprise Rent-A-Car we promote strictly from within, so our greatest task is identifying talent among graduates, as the future of our company lies with this group. From the start, it’s vital to understand a candidate beyond their degree. This is a great starting point, but what individuals do outside of the nuts and bolts of his or her education can reveal a lot about where their talents lie.

For example, those who participate in clubs and organisations will potentially have a strong work ethic and good time management skills, as well as a great understanding of leadership. Students who have opted for internships, meanwhile, are likely to have developed a strong business acumen.

Once the talent is identified, it’s important to get personal with those who excel. We go out of our way to demonstrate the kind of company we are to graduates, which is customer and employee focused. That way, we get a good fit of talented graduates who understand and share our values. Once that is done, we can get on with the business of developing them.

Paying attention to training is vital and investing time to ensure your programmes are both relevant and consistent can have a huge impact on employee development. Many employers, us included, have a structured training programme which everyone goes through during their first year with the company.

What some organisations neglect, though, is training for more senior employees. Realising that development is ongoing is the first step towards getting the most out of all your employees and not just the new starters.

The world of benefits is a wide one and the options can be a little mind boggling. In terms of talent management, two points are particularly relevant. The first is tailoring your benefits for the type of employee you want to attract. If you’re looking to recruit younger staff, it makes sense to look at things like maternity and paternity benefits.

The second point is to think how the benefits you offer to an individual employee can affect the rest of the workforce. At Enterprise Rent-A-Car, one of the key benefits we offer is private medical insurance, which is something we make available to everyone. Singling out individuals for particular benefits can have a very negative effect on the wider workforce, which is not necessarily offset by the positive effect it has on the employees in question.

Deploying talent is the critical piece of managing people to their full potential. To ensure it’s done properly, it has to be led from the top so its importance is recognised. At a more individual level, nothing can rival the personal touch in deciding how best to use your team. It’s important to work with employees to explore where their talents lie and find the role which fits them best.

Again, talent development plays a big role here. An eye must always be kept on tomorrow. Because we promote from within, we place an emphasis on developing leaders as opposed to just people who can do the job today. That way, when it comes to deploying talent, you should always have the right pieces to complete the puzzle.

Finally, the people of an organisation are the organisation, so to ensure you’re always moving forward it is important to ensure that your employees are as well. Working with them to identify, develop and use their talents can make a colossal difference.