How to identify and develop the talent within your organisation

This week’s blog explores the topic of ‘People’ and how you build that pipeline of future talent within your business,

because it comes up time and time again as one of the greatest opportunities but also one of the greatest challenges when leading a business.


The starting point is to have the mindset of ‘always be recruiting and developing people and talent’.

You must be able to move internal talent around, to switch roles between people, and identify the future gaps so you can start to recruit this additional talent today.

To build a pipeline of promising performers, you must first define what talent looks like, feels like, and acts like in your business.

Most people challenges come about because the wrong people are in the wrong roles.

This can occur for a number of reasons: a skills gap, poor behaviours, a bad attitude, lack of desire or will to develop further and grow with the business, misalignment in personal and business values, or a disconnect between an individual and their line manager.

Ownership of some of those challenges lies with the individual, but the majority lie with the organisation itself. The business leaders have not clearly articulated what excellence looks like for a particular role and end up recruiting the wrong people into the business, and we all know the impact that can have.

The right people in the right role can accelerate your journey exponentially. The wrong people can set you back 12 months in a heartbeat and be an expensive lesson both in terms of real cash and missed opportunities.


Talent is about an individual’s performance combined with their longer-term potential.

In terms of performance…

…the WHAT is about whether an individual functionally gets the job done and how well they do it.

..the HOW is whether they are living the Values, demonstrating the right behaviours, and being role models for their colleagues.

In terms of potential…

CAPABILITY is about whether an employee is able to grow at the required pace. Some employees reach a ceiling in terms of their capability, where others continue to stretch and grow.

ASPIRATIONS refer to whether employees have the desire and will to want to grow, to better themselves and fast track their career.

People with performance and potential, may be the future stars of your organisation.


Most people have heard or used Pareto’s 80/20 rule in business development and sales as a tool for analysing which customers contribute the majority of sales and profits. A second application is for identifying and unlocking your people talent.

Here’s how it works:

20% are top performers, 70% are the heart and soul of your business and 10% are disruptors.

Experience tells us most leaders get drawn into spending a disproportionate amount of time in the 10% category.

A business has no spare seats and there are no free rides; seats or roles need to be filled with the right people, doing the right things, at the right time, and in the right way.


The top 20% are probably team members who deliver consistently year on year. They need little management – you set the goals, point them in the right direction, and they’re off.

They have a great attitude, are self-motivated, and know precisely what they need to do in order to exceed their targets and goals. If you need quick wins or to squeeze more results from the team, the top 20% are the people who’ll rise to the challenge.

Contact with your top 20% is key – not focusing on the specifics of what they are doing – just communicating with them, keeping them updated and informed and, most importantly, giving them the praise and recognition they desire. There is no mistaking the stars of a company. They are the best and are treated that way.


Managing the 70% is about identifying people with potential to move up, and cultivating them. Everyone in the middle 70% needs to be inspired and made to feel they belong. The 70% is where the majority of your time and effort should be spent and where you’ll see the greatest returns.

20% of the 70% are future top performers

The heart and soul of your team are enormously valuable to your business – 20% of these have the potential to be your future top performers. What are you doing to identify, nurture, and develop this talent pool?

A word of caution: keep your eye on the future top performers to prevent them from becoming sliders. During the course of the year you might see differential performance as their motivation levels fluctuate or external distractions dilute their focus and drive. Spotting this is key as leader and coach. Knowing when you need to invest quality time to refocus and get them back on track is essential.

40% of the 70% are the heart and souls

The 40% heart and souls will deliver results. They need managing more closely, training, regular contact, focus, and tactful goal setting – but they’ll either hit or get close to their objective and goals.

10% of the 70% are potential disruptors

Watch out for the 10% of potential future disruptors. The people who do just enough. You question their attitude, commitment, and values. Do they really want to be here? Do they really want to be part of a team?


Now, having applied the two P’s model (Performance and Potential) to your people, the final step you can take is to overlay the traffic light system on your findings;

GREEN reflects your top performers based on both performance and potential.

AMBER reflects the right person in the right place that might need developmental help, or the right person in the wrong place, who might have an excellent attitude, but whose skills could be better utilised in another role within the business.

RED reflects the wrong person for the organisation on both performance and potential.

Apply the 2P’s model, adopt the traffic light system and it will give you a clear picture of where;

  • your developmental efforts should be applied,
  • your people potentiality lies,
  • your people gaps are.

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