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Managing talent on a global scale.

Managing talent on a global scale

It's exactly what you would expect; a consultancy firm that specialises in helping other organizations to spot and nurture their future leaders itself has rigorous talent-management and development processes in place.

With almost 19,000 employees in more than 40 countries, Mercer gives a major role to its existing leaders in evaluating and selecting the people who will head the business in the future. They draw on decision-support technology that enables leaders to conduct talent assessments based on accurate information and consistent criteria.

In Volume 69, Issue 4 of Training & Development, published in September 2010, Wheelock explains: 'Rather than focusing on a reactive or backwards-looking exercise, Mercer focuses on a planning process that is more about taking action and doing very specific things to get people ready for their next move.'

Central to this is the firm's leadership-development curriculum. First-time managers attend a stepping-up-to-management course to help people to understand what it means to be a manager. After six months they attend a course on helping people to succeed. This teaches how to interpret 360-degree feedback and build relationships with members of their team. Two or three years later, senior managers are taught how to 'engage in difficult conversations to find solutions to complex issues, explore dynamic and positive dialogue and recognize leadership strengths and areas for improvement'.

Wheelock also describes the top tiers of the curriculum, including the Mercer leadership forum. Here, the top 200 leaders in the organization learn 'the skills and information they need to understand and champion Mercer's long-term strategic vision and translate that vision into winning results in the marketplace'.

The author concludes: 'Energized by the strong support of Mercer's chief executive and driven by a proven process that encompasses a comprehensive talent review and a keen focus on education, exposure and experience, the consultancy is developing true leadership for the long term.'

Like Mercer, information provider Thomson Reuters operates on a global scale. It has more than 55,000 employees in over 100 countries - and the geographical scope of its operations is expanding all the time. In the November 2010 Issue of Training Journal, Manis explains how the company's talent-management programme is responding to the greater mobility of employees and the new markets that are emerging.

The author describes how high-flying employees are segmented by the stage of their career and the skills they need to develop. They are then allocated to one of three development initiatives - the Generate, Accelerate and Global Executive programmes.

Employees who are selected to be part of a talent-management pool generally feel valued by, and engaged with, the organization. But what about those who are not chosen?

In the same issue of Training Journal, McCartney reports that commitment to the organization generally falls among unsuccessful applicants, but there is some evidence that effective feedback can counteract or minimize this. She advises: 'If you choose to implement a selection process, ensure that the criteria are administered consistently and that you have a planned strategy for those who are not mitigate against decreased commitment to the organization.'

Without such a strategy, talent management could end up costing the organization dearly.

In other news, Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, one of Emerald's new launch journals for 2011 and the official journal of UVAC (the University Vocational Awards Council), has published its inaugural issue. For more information about the journal, or to submit an article, please go to: