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Why Invest In Talent? – A post by Mike Williams, People Development Director, De Vere Village Hotels and Urban Resorts

With the continuing need to tighten our organisational belts and reduce costs, employers may ask themselves “do we really need to invest in a talent strategy?”

In my first week at De Vere my Chief Executive asked me to facilitate a plan for business expansion by appointing from within.

At the time, most GM appointments were made from outside the organisation, pushing recruitment costs up and weakening the organisational DNA and culture.  It was clear that a robust talent strategy within our annual people strategy would provide ROI.

To begin, we established what talent looked like within De Vere.  Working closely with the COO we mapped out the top 5 behaviours that underpinned high performance:  commerciality, detailed, driven, inspirational and resilient.

Using an online performance management system, we assessed ‘high performers’ and those with ‘high potential’ by rating all managers against the top 5 behaviours and assessing their potential to progress to a GM position within the next two years. Our top 10% of managers were then invited to attend an assessment day, through which we saw first-hand their performance and potential via a series of exercises specifically designed to review the five behaviours.  We then gave detailed feedback on their areas for development and strengths.

80% of those who attended the assessment day then went on to attend the main programme and a comprehensive series of training days.  Heads of Business each ran sessions on their disciplines,  Stephen Carter OBE (Director of Cameron House Hotel) ran sessions on the link between customer service and employee engagement as did one of our up and coming GMs.  I ran sessions on leadership and networking.  Each person on the programme was appointed a mentor from the executive team and received quarterly reviews with me as well as regular feedback from their line manager.

Early on in the programme we had our first internal GM appointment. This person has performed exceptionally well and shown real determination to succeed.  Over the past three months another three internal candidates on the programme have beaten external candidates to be appointed to take up GM roles within De Vere.

So, back to the original question, why invest in talent?

As a result of the initiative, our recruitment costs are down 80% per annum with 100% return on investment.  Our engagement survey has already shown a 7% increase in leadership and management effectiveness in the last five months.

We now have a real buzz in the organisation about the opportunity for talent to progress, as we have shown direct links between the programme and career progression as well as its compelling commercial returns for the business.  Investing in talent has proven to be a clear win win situation for De Vere.