You are on page 1of 10

Research insight

Talent management
Findings from our forthcoming Research into
Practice report, Talent: Strategy, management and
measurement, are being showcased for the first time at
our Talent Management Conference on 19 June 2007.
Persistent skills shortages, the changing demographics
of the UK workforce, its increasing diversity and
the worklife balance agenda have led to increased
competition for individuals who are capable of making
the greatest difference to organisational performance.
In the current tight labour market this has given rise to
what has been labelled the war for talent. The ability
to attract and retain higher-quality individuals than
competitor organisations is increasingly a strategic
priority for business. How this is to be achieved is a
growing preoccupation for chief executives and senior
managers, and those responsible for the design and
delivery of HR strategies that proactively support the
needs of the business.
At the heart of this growing interest in talent
management is the recognition that its not enough
just to attract individuals with high potential. There
needs to be a planned strategy for managing their
talent that is supported by processes to develop the
investment in human capital, retain the commitment
of talented employees and properly use their abilities.
This led to the CIPD commissioning a year-long
research project to look at how organisations are
identifying, developing, deploying and retaining talent
and to what extent this is part of a proactive approach
to talent management.
Hov Ihe research vas carried ouI
The research by Nottingham Business School focused
on nine organisations representing a wide range
of sectors, which included manufacturing, finance,
hospitality, e-business, the NHS and local government
(Table 1 overleaf).
Across the case study organisations, over 100 detailed
face-to-face interviews were conducted with senior
executives, HR directors, HR professionals, talent
management specialists, line managers and individual
employees. These were supplemented in each
organisation with employee focus groups that largely
consisted of current or past participants in talent
management initiatives. Where appropriate, trade
union representatives were also interviewed.
The aim was to obtain the views of a broad range of
stakeholders on how talent is defined, identified and
developed within their organisation as well as their
perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of
the approach taken.
This report gives a snapshot of some of the key
findings from the forthcoming Research into
Practice report, Talent: Strategy, management
and measurement, and includes an in-depth case
study from Gordon Ramsay Holdings.
The full report, including detailed case studies from
all nine organisations, will be published in August
2007. For further information visit and to buy the report visit
the CIPD bookstore at
This report is available at a discounted price to
CIPD members.
Talent management 1
Table 1: The talent management case studies
Number of
Case study Type of organisation employees
Cargill Global provider of food, agricultural and risk management c149,000
products and services. It is one of the worlds largest companies,
with annual sales of approximately $75 billion.
Derby City Council A local authority providing all government services to the c12,000
237,000 people who live in the city of Derby, including
education, social services, highways and transportation, arts and
cultural events, refuse collection, recycling and parks.
Google is one of the five most popular sites on the Internet c5,000
and is used around the world by millions of people. Its the
worlds largest search engine and its European headquarters are
in Dublin and London.
Gordon Ramsay Holdings The organisation has a London head office, nine leading c900
restaurants in London, including the Michelin star Gordon
Ramsay at Claridges, consultancies in Dubai and Tokyo and
media and consultancy interests. Expansion has started in the US
and is planned for Europe.
Legal Services LSC is an executive non-departmental public body that maintains c1,700
Commission (LSC) and develops the Community Legal Service and Criminal Defence
Service. The core purpose of the LSC is to help people in genuine
need to receive access to justice. It works in partnership with
solicitors and not-for-profit organisations to provide legal advice,
assistance and representations.
London and Quadrant The Group is a not-for-profit organisation whose main objective c800
Group is to offer high-quality affordable housing to people in Greater
London and the south-east of England. In 2005 the Group was
ranked 12th in the Sunday Times Best companies to work for
North West Wales NHS The Trust serves a population of c240,000, plus transient/ c5,500
Trust seasonal workers and holidaymakers in the summer months.
Direct provision of health services is undertaken in two acute
hospitals, nine community hospitals and two sites for mental
health and learning disability services.
Pricewaterhouse PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP operate in 149 countries providing c140,000
Coopers LLP solutions to the problems facing businesses and the capital
markets today through their lines of service and 22
industry-specialised practices to a variety of clients.
Standard Chartered plc The bank has an extensive global network of over 1,400 c60,000
branches (including subsidiaries, associates and joint ventures)
representing over 100 nationalities in the Asia Pacific Region,
South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the UK and the Americas.
2 Talent management
What is talent?
There are as many definitions of talent, it seems to me,
as there are pebbles on Brighton beach!
The starting point for any research into talent
management must inevitably be an exploration of
what is meant by talent. As the above quote from an
HR director illustrates, there are many differing views
of what talent is and the characteristics of talented
individuals. Indeed, our research confirms that how
talent is defined is:
organisationally specific
highly influenced by the type of industry and the
nature of its work
dynamic, and so likely to change over time
according to organisational priorities.
Organisations often find greater value in formulating
their own meaning of what talent is rather than
accepting universal or prescribed definitions. There will
be considerable differences, for example, in how talent is
defined in a local authority and in the hospitality industry.
In the absence of one definition of talent management
that fits all contexts, its crucial for each organisation to
identify what it means by talent and for this meaning
to fit its particular needs and circumstances. This is
the starting point for developing a coherent talent
management strategy.
However, while there are a wide variety of views about
talent and how to manage it, there are also some
themes running through the case study organisations.
The value of having an effective, organisation-wide
talent management process in place was evident. Our
research found that such a process provided a focus
for investment in human capital and placed the subject
of talent high on the corporate agenda, a desirable
objective for HR professionals. It was also concluded
that the focus on talent management contributed to
other strategic objectives, such as:
building a high-performance workplace or a
learning organisation
adding value to the employer of choice and
branding agenda
contributing to diversity management.
So, an effective approach to talent management has
many tangible benefits that cross other areas of the
HR function.
Not surprisingly, even across the nine case studies there
were many views about the nature of talent. However,
identifying potential was a common denominator.
Its therefore possible to provide a definition that can
provide a working basis for the development of a talent
management strategy:
Talent consists of those individuals who can make
a difference to organisational performance, either
through their immediate contribution or in the longer
term by demonstrating the highest levels of potential.
Similarly, research into the processes of talent
management led to a wide range of practices that
tended to be organisation-specific and dependent
upon the context within which talent management
was taking place. But once more a definition of
talent management was derived from various
examples of successful practice in this and other
research projects:
The systematic attraction, identification, development,
engagement/retention and deployment of those
individuals with high potential who are of particular
value to an organisation. (from Talent Management:
Understanding the dimensions, CIPD 2006,
Talent management 3
These two definitions provide a language for further
The definition of talent and talent management and the
perceived value of having a talent process in place were
complemented by a range of valuable findings that
will prove to be useful for those organisations looking
to establish their own approaches to talent. These are
summarised below:
A successful approach is based on an agreed,
organisation-wide de!iniIion o! IaIenI and
IaIenI managemenI. Such definitions form the
springboard from which both talent strategy and
talent management processes can be launched.
In addition, a Ianguage !or IaIenI managemenI
acIiviIies that is understood by all the parties in the
employment relationship is a strong requirement.
A proacIive, sIraIegic approach Io IaIenI
managemenI offers considerable organisational
benefits in terms of developing a pool of talent as a
resource to meet identified needs.
5upporI !or IaIenI managemenI needs Io !Iov
!rom Ihose aI Ihe very Iop o! an organisaIion
and cascade throughout.
Engaging Iine managers !rom an earIy sIage
is critical to ensure that they are committed to
organisational approaches to talent management.
TaIenI managemenI can be used Io enhance
an organisaIions image and supporI empIoyer
branding in the labour market, as well as provide
a means of enhancing employee engagement to
improve retention.
TaIenI managemenI acIiviIies shouId be
deveIoped viIh oIher H poIicies and pracIice
for a joined-up approach.
Developing talent may be based on a bIend o!
in!ormaI and !ormaI meIhods.
H speciaIisIs have an imporIanI roIe Io pIay in
providing support and guidance in the design and
development of approaches to talent management
that will fit the needs of the organisation.
Processes need to be developed to Irack Ihe
per!ormance and progress o! Ihose idenIi!ied
as IaIenI.
A final conclusion was that talent management is a
dynamic process that has to be continuously reviewed
to ensure that organisational requirements are still
being met in the light of changing business priorities.
Ultimately organisational success is the most effective
evaluation of talent management.
4 Talent management
Initially employing 80 people, Gordon Ramsay Holdings now has over 900 staff and has witnessed
rapid expansion since its first restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, opened in 1998. The organisation
includes nine leading restaurants in London, consultancies in Dubai and Tokyo, new restaurants in
Florida and New York, and there are plans to open more outlets in the US and Europe in the future. The
business is overseen by two chief executives Gordon Ramsay and Chris Hutcheson (Gordon Ramsays
father-in-law). Gordon Ramsay plays a crucial role in the creative direction of the restaurants and works
closely with the restaurant personnel, giving him the opportunity to identify talent in the restaurants
and kitchens. This, combined with his celebrity status, has led to the organisation having a high-profile
reputation within the hospitality and catering industry, both nationally and internationally.
Key drivers !or IaIenI managemenI
Creative talent is key to the success of Gordon Ramsay Holdings. Gordon Ramsay, as one of the CEOs,
places considerable importance on developing this talent within the organisation, which means that
the business can continue to expand effectively throughout the UK and internationally. When opening
a new restaurant, the organisation typically places a home-grown senior chef in charge of the new
venture to work alongside senior restaurant staff taken from other restaurants in the business. Mark
Sargeant, the head chef at Gordon Ramsays at Claridges, for example, began working with Gordon
Ramsay in 1998, and Marcus Wareing, the chef patron at Petrus, has worked with Gordon Ramsay for
over ten years. Developing internal talent means that the organisation has also addressed recruitment
difficulties associated with the lack of highly skilled chefs in the labour market.
Approaching IaIenI managemenI
Gordon Ramsay Holdings focuses its efforts on developing rather than recruiting talent, particularly in
terms of the kitchen staff. Although formal training is offered to employees (such as increasing staff
knowledge of wines and cheese), the talent-spotting and development of individuals is carried out by
the line managers with the help of Gordon Ramsay.
Although restaurant staff and their ability to offer high standards of customer service are important
for the business, generally talent is defined in terms of the creative cooking skills of the chefs. As this
creative talent plays an important role in the success of the business, not only in terms of expansion but
also in terms of being publicly recognised through, for example, Michelin stars, a number of schemes
operate to try to retain and develop these people.
Those chefs asked to head up a new restaurant are offered financial incentives to ensure that the new
enterprise is successful. As part of their training, up-and-coming chefs are also sent on sabbaticals to
improve their cooking skills. Typically this involves working in a prestigious restaurant outside of the UK
for a lengthy period of time. These individuals are not obliged to return to Gordon Ramsay Holdings
after they have finished their training but invariably they do. As a head chef commented, Its like your
parents say, that if you love your children you have to let them go.
TaIenI mobiIiIy aI Gordon amsay HoIdings
Talent management 5
On their return, the newly trained chefs bring fresh ideas to the restaurant and also help to improve the
skills of their colleagues. Gordon Ramsay explained how the sabbaticals worked:
[Having people leave your organisation and then come back] is a way of, I suppose, not just of getting
a breath of fresh air, but enhancement. Were still growing, so were nursing talent and losing talent,
and having staff out there, like Neal, for the last 12 months, whos been on sabbatical, and I knew I
had to do that to him before he opened New York. He couldnt come out of the Connaught and then
go to New York and be highly successful. So, what hes seen through Australia, what hes seen across
South America, and Jason has seen a lot of places like Vietnam and Japan, you know they come back
with mind-boggling, extraordinary experiences and theyre just bursting with enthusiasm to put it on a
plate. So, that sabbatical time out is healthy and crucial.
[How often would people get a sabbatical like this?]
...It depends but its always before a big opening [of a restaurant]. And that can vary between six and
12 months. Thats not just life-changing but in terms of enhancement its phenomenal because its
just like the most amazing, exciting trip ever, and its a one-off because you cant get into a serious
partnership and then say Im taking a year off three years later.
[So its almost like a gap year?]
Yeah, so, we plan a year, 18 months in advance. When for instance Claridges was on and we were
about to sign the lease it would take a year to do in terms of revamp. I said to Mark, he was 27, and I
said you know, play your cards right and in a years time youre going to be chef dcuisine at Claridges.
He said, You know I cant do that. Im 27. Im not even banqueting chef. Hes 30 and hes not. I said
dont worry. So they get that level of, not leg up, but a support mechanism which is crucial.
ene!iIs o! inIernaI deveIopmenI
For Gordon Ramsay Holdings, developing talent internally is a less risky and costly approach to
managing talent than recruiting it in. This approach means that theyre able to expand successfully,
retain talent within the business and guarantee that all staff are trained in the Gordon Ramsay way
to ensure continuity of service and standards. Retaining an informal, nurturing approach to managing
talent has also enabled the organisation to remain creative a key success factor in the competitive
restaurant industry.
TaIenI mobiIiIy aI Gordon amsay HoIdings (conIinued)
6 Talent management
Find out more
e!IecIions on TaIenI ManagemenI (ApriI 2006)
Provides you with an introduction to the subject
of talent management and includes case study
examples of talent management in action from
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Royal Bank of Scotland,
the NHS and IBM.
Also includes results from the talent management
section of the 2006 Learning and Development survey
on how organisations are tackling talent management.
TaIenI ManagemenI. UndersIanding Ihe
dimensions (OcIober 2006)
The first output from the CIPDs research into talent
management with Nottingham Business School. Gives
you an overview of talent management based on
a review of relevant literature, discussions with HR
specialists and consultants, and exploratory discussions
with case study organisations.
Includes material on how the organisation Cargill are
managing talent.
TaIenI ManagemenI. 5IraIegy, managemenI,
measuremenI (avaiIabIe !rom AugusI 2007)
Provides practical advice on managing talent based
on the CIPDs year-long research with Nottingham
Business School.
Learn from the experiences and challenges facing a
range of case study organisations.
Organisations featured in this Research into Practice
report are:
Derby City Council
Gordon Ramsay Holdings
London and Quadrant Group
North West Wales NHS Trust
Legal Services Commission
Standard Chartered plc.
Visit the research area at
and register to be notified when this Research into
Practice report is available.
Talent management 7
AIso avaiIabIe !rom Ihe CIPD
TaIenI ManagemenI and 5uccession PIanning.
Ensure IhaI you geI Ihe mosI !rom Ihe IaIenI in
your organisaIion
The toolkit provides practical guidance, checklists and
examples to enable you to:
clarify what talent management and succession
planning actually are
identify the talents your organisation needs now
and in the future
set up talent management and succession planning
processes, including managing, developing and
retaining talented individuals, and attracting those
individuals in the first place
train your managers in your policies and processes
benchmark and evaluate your policies to measure
their success.
For more details and to purchase visit
8 Talent management
We explore leading-edge people management and development issues through our research.
Our aim is to share knowledge, increase learning and understanding, and help our members
make informed decisions about improving practice in their organisations.
We produce many resources on talent management issues including guides, books, practical
tools, surveys and research reports. We also organise a number of conferences, events and
training courses. Please visit to find out more.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
151 The Broadway London SW19 1JQ
Tel: 020 8612 6200 Fax: 020 8612 6201
Email: Website:
Incorporated by Royal Charter Registered charity no.1079797 I