Talent and Development

Talent – Managing Talent the mwah. way – for Leaders

Developing talent is one of five essential processes that all great businesses do well. We think it is so important, we have it as one of our five signature people processes.

The mwah. way of managing talent has two core elements:

  1. A simple talent profile
  2. A simple talent grid


Both documents (attached below) are simple and easily explained on the Profile and Grid.

By using just these two elements, as described, you’ll have a good Talent Management approach for your business. Our recommendation is completing a Talent discussion and calibration session every six months. An absolute minimum would be annually.

It’s worth noting that the mwah. way of managing talent works well if you have five people in your business or 500 or 50,000.

The mwah. way of managing talent, also links to a simple Succession Plan for business-critical roles (mwah. Succession Plan) and Development Plans for every individual (mwah. Development Plan). Adding these to your talent approach is also recommended.


© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

Now you have the basics of managing talent in place, the trick is to take it up a notch by adding more actions and stronger leadership, but not adding more admin.There is often a temptation to add a more complicated Grid, or more detail into the Profile.

The temptation should only be about two things –

  1. Getting the whole organisation using the same language. To do this, use the same two simple tools (Profile and Grid) and talking to the same standards at every layer and in every corner of your business
  2. Taking more actions to develop your talent. Action is everything. Putting people in a grid, or in a table, is worthless unless it leads to development action!


To get the whole organisation using the tools and talking the same language requires a few conversations – We call them ‘Talent Discussions”. It depends on the size of the organisation, but you should expect to take half a day twice a year to really talk talent. And that conversations work best when everyone comes prepared – they’ve spoken to their teams about ambition, development and plans, and they’ve done that little bit of admin (Profiles and Grids) and drawn up (physically or on-line) how they see their talent, and are ready to have a great conversation.

In order to have a great Talent Discussion, there is a Talent Conversation Facilitation Guide (insert link to mwah Talent Conversation Facilitation Guide). This Facilitation Guide not only gives you the timeline for preparation and the right communication to send out, but also the details you need to facilitate the discussion, right down to timing and scripting for each component.

How do you get really good at a Talent Conversation – Practice! Practice! And Practice some more.

Now, this will give you a good set of processes, but your team will absolutely judge you on the actions you take.

Contrary to public expectations, developing talent doesn’t require huge amounts of money. Most people develop best by having opportunities and learning new things from colleagues and other leaders who do it well, while they’re at work.

The trick to developing talent is to make sure that the minute everyone is on that Talent Grid, and you’ve calibrated taking into account all feedback, then the very next thing is ‘do something’ with the information.

Look at Top Talent box on the grid.

Think about your coaching of your team – every day! Let them look over your shoulder when you’re doing the really tough stuff, so they learn gradually and before they need to do it. Look at who on your team is highly regarded and probably going to snaffled into a new role soon. Make sure they’re ready and set them up for success. Make sure someone knows their role behind them, so you’re ready to go and let the high potential talented person free as soon as the opportunity comes up, and you’re not holding them to manage your lack of planning. People will want to work for the boss, that most develops talent and sets it free for great opportunities.

Think about work or assignments you have coming up that align to people’s development needs. Share the work, share the opportunities. Nobody learns much from a conversation. They learn from the opportunity to be challenged and do something.

Now, Look at the people in the Highly Valued box. Are they happy? Do they know they’re highly valued? Do they have what they need in terms of leadership, training, and support? These are the backbone of your business. Care about them. And make sure they feel it.

Now, look at the Potential Stars. They’re new, or have a new role, and they’re ambitious and want to do well. You don’t want to over promote them just yet. It takes time to learn a role and do it well. Support them. Let them know they’re doing well. Don’t over-promise or make every conversation about the next role. Make the conversations about the great work they’re doing.

Finally, look at the Not Doing As Well As Needed box. It’s a wicked leader who puts someone in there and throws away the key. Almost everyone has a period in their career where they go off the boil, or take a role that’s not right for them. Great leaders stay close, supporting and coaching better performance, but also looking for ways to tweak the role, if possible and make it more aligned to the person’s skills and current capabilities. Make sure you’ve been really open about feedback and expectations. Are they clear they’re falling a little short? Is there something going on that’s causing it? Is there something outside of work that’s distracting from work? Do they need a break or a holiday? Are they unwell? Get close to these people and understand what’s going on. There have been some great people who have found their way back from this box and gone on to run big companies and do really well. The right conversation and the right support early, can avoid a whole bunch of much more difficult conversations in the future.

So, basic Talent Management is the process.

Better Talent Management is taking the process, and the great conversations that surround it, and using all of that to develop every person on your team.


© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

Becoming an expert in the mwah. way of managing talent takes practice and commitment but it is an easy process.

If you want to also be an expert in assessment of potential, or assessment of capability, then it’s time to start reading. Each and every element has a library full of books and articles.

We recommend you start with this one –

“The Talent Masters – Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers” by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan, 2011.

Talent is also a topic we love at mwah, so keep an eye on our ‘Big Thinking” area, as we find and share great research, have some great experts in our team, and love to keep up with all the new ways of looking at this critical topic.


© 2017 All rights reserved
mwah. making work absolutely human

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