Companies will maximise business performance if they cultivate individuals with talent within their organisations. There may well be more of them than they had thought, says Petra Cook

The role of the supermarket manager is often not the most highly regarded of jobs, despite food stores being at the heart of communities. But perhaps this perception can be changed by recognising and creating talent in all areas of the retail sector.
It is crucial, not least because of the highly competitive nature of the business, that retail organisations develop their employees in order to nurture talent and create a highly skilled workforce. Managers must take responsibility for the development of those in their teams and help them reach their full potential.
A talent management process can help provide managers with the opportunity to do just this. It helps to identify employees with high potential, and can help focus development activities on certain pools of people with a specific talent.
The essential starting point in this process is to review the organisation’s vision and strategic objectives and then make sure that the focus of the talent management process is aligned with these. Will the focus of talent management concentrate only on individuals with high potential? Perhaps it will recognise everyone as having the potential to display talent?
The next step is to undertake a talent audit to identify any potential skills gaps. The identification of development needs may emerge from planned new tasks or responsibilities, from discussions with members of your team, or from dissatisfaction with current routines.
When you are considering which activities to undertake, you should think about two broad themes. The first is ‘attract and acquire’, which should encompass how you make
the business attractive to prospective employees. Good graduates are in high demand across the food and drink industry. This makes it even more important to nurture those at the beginning of their careers, within your organisation.
The other is ‘protect and nurture’, which should include development and training, performance management and succession planning.
Now in its second year, the Institute’s Chartered Manager programme has identified the core skills that managers in the retail industry need to succeed. These include meeting customer needs by developing effective customer relationships and creating customer-driven improvements to products and services.
Leading people by providing clear direction and inspiring trust, respect and shared values is another important skill. By shaping these qualities in your team right from the start, you are likely to give employees a clear career progression route and help them become strong team members.
Much individual development happens as part of stretching individuals’ roles and employees who have talent will expect to be developed in order to progress their careers. By helping them move through the ranks within your organisation through coaching or mentoring, you reduce the likelihood of them looking elsewhere for opportunities.
A sense of emotional attachment can also help generate commitment among those employees you hope to retain long-term. It is possible to achieve this by recruiting and developing employees who share the same values, attitudes and beliefs that the organisation’s success is built upon.
It is essential to ensure that talented individuals achieve a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment in their employment and that you encourage networking across business departments. This can help your team members to engage fully in contributing to the aims of the business and build strong internal links.
Research by the CMI shows that almost 90% of organisations claim to have regular appraisals to establish training requirements and more than half (57%) engage in talent management by selecting high-potential managers for intensive development. So great strides are being made.
And if you are a manager, remember to lead by example and provide high-performers with the opportunity to shine. To create strong leaders for the future, it is important to begin with the talent in your team now.
n Petra Cook is head of Public Affairs, Chartered Management Institute