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5 counter-intuitive things about talent that only a few get right

Being willing to challenge the orthodox way of looking at things is one ingredient of learning and making progress. Here are 5 things that we believe organisations want to look at differently to be more successful.


You need more high potentials at junior levels than at senior levels as you can’t catch up. One of the obvious, but often overlooked aspects of talent planning, is the impact of the typical employee triangle on the need for high potential talent lower down in the organisation.

If you want two thirds of your senior management group to be internally sourced

You need a higher % of junior levels to be high potentials than senior levels.


You should be deploying your most sophisticated potential identifier at the point in the process where you take on the most people, not for those who are already defined as high potential.

By the time people are senior with you, they are personally known to many people and you have an established track record to look at.


The most powerful lever of change you have is the internal appointment process, not just for promotions, but for lateral moves as well.

Most appointments are internal not external. The most common duration for time in role is less than 2 years. Meaning over 50% of people move every 2 years.

Applying the same rigour on how you search and assess for these roles can change a business quicker than anything else.


The nice companies to work at have the biggest talent challenge. Nice companies never lose people and they eventually drift upwards. Engagement based on “this stretches me and offers opportunity” is different to engagement based on “I like it here”.

A "Great place to work" has to engender a sense of risk as well as comfort.


The decisive influence on performance above a certain level is the team, or workgroup, not the individual. It is the harnessing of diverse talent to a common goal that creates stand out performance.

The approach should focus on measuring team performance and potential after a certain point. not just individuals.

Interestingly if you look at what Google has focused on over the last few years as reported in the Work Rules it reflects these 5 counterintuitive points.

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