Talent Management Conference
Monday 29 June 2009
In March 2009, NHS London held its first Talent Management Conference. The conference
was held to provide NHS organisations in London with the opportunity to help shape the
leadership and talent management plan for London, as established in the recently published
“Inspiring Leaders: Leadership for Quality. Guidance for NHS Talent and Leadership plans.
Feedback from the event was very positive, with all responses in favour of holding a follow-
up event in June.
Resources from the March Talent Management Conference can be found at
The second conference was held on Monday 29 June and aimed to provide key NHS
stakeholders with the tools and knowledge to develop, manage and encourage effective
talent management within their organisations. The conference provided good practice case
studies from healthcare providers and gave an overview of the progress made since March
as well as projections for talent management processes for London’s NHS organisations.
The event included key-note speeches from Jim O’Connell-Department of Health, London’s
healthcare community and updates on talent management developments from NHS
London. The event was designed to be highly interactive with a table discussion session on
the Talent Management Toolkit as well as opportunities to question all speakers, whether in
specific Q&A sessions or in the Panel Discussion at the end of the day.
Jim O’Connell: “Talent Management in the NHS: The Department of
Jim O’Connell (Director of Leadership, Department of Health) provided the national
perspective on the talent management needs of the NHS. He focused specifically on the
need to achieve QIP (Quality, Innovation and Productivity) centred leadership, increase and
strengthen the talent pool of potential NHS leaders and to embed QIP leadership into all our
leadership development activity. Jim emphasised how the Department of Health’s (DH)
talent and leadership vision related to improving patient care, relations with the public and
developing staff. The DH aspirations for NHS leadership centre on the three points of
Vision, Method and Expectation which holds QIP at its core.
The National Leadership Council (NLC) has been set up to champion genuine and
effective leadership transformation. The Patrons have been purposefully chosen from a
wide range of backgrounds to maximise both the range of learning and the quality. The
Clinical Leadership component recognises that clinicians need learn about “leadership”
earlier at graduate level. Board Development will be focused on the transition of
organisations to Foundation Trusts and how boards can be supported to that end. Top
Leaders refers to the team that will be analysing what top leaders should look like and how
they get there. The Inclusion component will look at attracting external NHS talent,
clinicians and all others. Emerging Leaders will look at the supply and demand of up and
coming leaders in the NHS, such as through the Management Training Scheme (MTS)
which provides a clear supply of high calibre talent (4 out of 5 Chief Executives went through
MTS), but where the demand is less clear and needs to be understood better. The Faculty
of Fellows is mandated to make sure that the NLC is fit for purpose and that it gets real input
from people within the NHS.
Jim then linked QIP to the DH’s recently published “Inspiring Leaders: Leadership for
Quality. Guidance for NHS talent and leadership plans.” He emphasised the need for a
more systematic approach to talent management, which not only identifies talent but can
also predict when they will be ready for certain roles and which pathways they need to follow
for these roles. Further research and analysis of pathways is also important for making sure
that the NHS has a diverse and representative workforce at all levels, including those from
clinical and BME backgrounds. Ultimately, the DH’s guidance are to ensure that across the
healthcare sector we will be spoilt for choice where everyone counts and we are as
focussed on our leadership as on our finances and clinical outcomes so that we provide
better patient outcomes and improved public confidence.
Anne-Marie Archard: “Talent and Leadership in London: Setting a
Anne-Marie Archard (Leadership Development Manager, NHS London) provided the
regional perspective on the current and near future context of the talent management needs
of London’s NHS. She began by emphasising the importance of NHS London’s vision for
‘To foster a culture of talent management across London, supporting a robust and
transparent system that successfully identifies, develops and deploys those
individuals with the talent and capabilities to meet the leadership challenges faced by
our London healthcare services, both today and in the future.’
Anne-Marie articulated the current talent management work being done by NHS London
for the region, which included increased sponsorship from NHS London Executive Team
and Chief Executives and a review of the talent data return within the next 12 months. This
talent data return will help us to understand the current leadership regional system more
clearly (i.e. who we have and where), current and future capacity gaps, as well as
information on career pathways of current leaders. NHS London will work with organisation
to support them in identifying talent in their organisations, developing robust criteria to
assess who are the current and up and coming potential leaders. The SHA will also
address local leadership needs, reflecting the differences between types of organisations
and specific capability and capacity gaps. We all need to understand the career pathways
and key roles or areas of experience that are required to reach senior posts within the NHS.
Developing talent is key to deploying the right leaders to the right positions and to deliver
our vision of talent and world-class healthcare for London.
NHS London will also provide post-programme support to all individuals who have
completed Leading for Health programmes to realise their career potential within London.
This will be done individually (such as objective career interviews and mentoring) but also in
a group environment, by creating an alumni forum across programmes that will assist
networking and the sharing of knowledge and experiences.
Anne-Marie also discussed the Talent Board Proposal, which will oversee the identification
and review at the senior level. This will include the current senior level roles and to identify
potential gaps due to the changing London landscape. It also aims to support talented
leaders by making sure that they have opportunities. The Board would ultimately be
responsible for making sure that our talent pool is recognised and promoted. The Board will
be led by the SHA and the exact design of the Board is currently underway.
The Future Developments for the Leading for Health team include a second cohort of the
Next Generation Chief Executives programme which is due to open for applications later this
year. The assessment and selection of the first cohort of Next Generation Directors is
currently underway and the programme will start in Autumn 2009. A further 3 Aspiring
Nurse Director cohorts planned for this year and a social networking study planned to
support the Diversity agenda. NHS London will also be scoping the need for a development
programmes for new PCT sector Chief Executives and Chairs.
Lesley Uren: “Talent Management Toolkit – Progress Update”
Lesley Uren (Chief Executive, Jackson Samuel Consultancy) provided a presentation on
their involvement with the building a practical talent management toolkit that will help
individuals and organisations to get from where they are to where they want to be in terms
of talent management. The toolkit will ultimately help identify and analyse the requirements
and goals to navigate their journey. The project team includes the NHS partner consortium
(with representatives from several NHS organisations), the SHA and consulting support from
Jackson Samuel. There are four key phases of the project:
• Establishment of project partnership (June)
• Definition of project plan (July)
• Design and delivery of toolkit (July – September)
• Design and delivery of communication materials (October – November)
Lesley and her team provided delegates with a survey that asked initial design questions for
the toolkit. This provided them with important thoughts and examples of talent management
that will contribute to the design and delivery of the toolkit.
She went on to emphasise the importance of understanding mindsets. From their
research in 2007, Jackson Samuel concluded that the starting place for talent management
is not the design, but to understand the existing mindsets that people bring to discussions.
These mindsets can include how open and transparent talent management processes
should be. If you omit mindsets, then processes and policies will get stuck as people will not
fundamentally agree with it.
Lesley raised results from the workshops that Jackson Samuel held at the last
conference. March delegates were asked to rate on ten mindset dilemmas where they felt
their organisation was and where it should be. These dilemmas were identified through
research as commonalities that arise when organisations have tried to build talent
management processes. What the results demonstrate is that, on average, there are quite
large gaps between the markers. This suggests that for London’s NHS talent management
processes will need to concentrate on mindsets as well as changing behaviour.
Lesley and her team then facilitated a table discussion session which focused on the
above mindset results and asked delegates to focus on what needs to be in place to bring
principles to life. They also asked delegates to look at what their organisations already had
and what needs to be developed. Feedback from discussions included:
• Talent management should not stand alone as a process and should focus on what it
can be used for i.e. how can it support principles such as QIP.
• Talent management should be within the whole economy of a system and should
work across the system, not as silos in organisations.
• Focusing on what was easily achievable (i.e. what we already have under our
control) would be the most effective place to start the journey.
• How to best measure potential and how to differentiate between performance and
potential will need to be developed for organisations when developing assessment
Chris Garner: “Accelerating the Development of Outstanding
Leaders through breadth and stretch”
Chris Garner (Director of Talent Management, BUPA) delivered a case study on the work
that BUPA has done on talent management. Whilst also a healthcare provider, BUPA is
substantially smaller than the NHS (with a workforce of approximately 50, 000), is
international in scope and is also a private organisation. Chris provided an overview of the
talent management approach recently developed at BUPA, which included the key
questions that emerged as important themes in this process.
BUPA’s accelerates the development of existing employees by stretching them:
‘Moving our best people through a series of roles which broaden and stretch them,
providing the support they need to have the best chance of success, and helping
them to build a track record of superior performance in different roles in different
Chris then outlined the five key points of BUPA’s talent management:
• Hold senior managers accountable: the four objectives for senior managers are
customer satisfaction, financial returns, employee satisfaction and talent
management. Having talent management as one of the four objectives ensures that
it gets discussed at all their meetings stays as a top priority.
• Identify the people to focus on. BUPA advocates focuses on performance to
identify their talent pool and their method uses existing performance managing
processes and leadership capabilities, both in terms of behaviour and results. This
process included peer as well as senior review.
• Understand their aspirations and openness to breadth. It is essential for the
organisation to understand what their individual employees want to do and what they
are willing to do. BUPA manages this from a database that covers their employment
history and where they aim to be, as well as candidate lists for certain positions.
• Select for development. There are various different contexts that can suit different
employees and provide them with different areas in which they can be stretch and
• Support the stretch. Talent management needs to be more than congratulations
and a report; individuals need to be supported.
He then outlined the key questions that emerged as themes from the development of the
talent management processes in BUPA. Before July 2008, BUPA had no one who
specifically oversaw talent management, although they did have a succession planning
model in place for their internal talent at the higher levels of the organisation.
• What’s the difference between talent management and human resource
management? Some areas do overlap, but HR management is for everyone,
whereas talent management is specifically for those individuals identified as talent
and has to be recognised as being different to the norm. Including moving people
through a series of roles in their career pathway.
• Is ‘elite’ a good word? Yes if they really are ‘elite.’ Chris gave the example of the
SAS who have to go through two and a half years of capability testing and have
proven that they really are the elite.
• How do you identify talent? Chris said that BUPA uses outstanding principles as
“duck” principles i.e. if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck then it is a duck.
Employees who seem to be outstanding (i.e. talented) are evaluated against a
common perspective (such as 360 degree tool) and against common ratings.
• How do you measure potential? BUPA is still developing the measurements for
potential, especially in terms of who will be successful (not just capable).
Traditionally, there are two options for measuring potential:
a) A behavioural approach which has a multitude of options that people can be
rated on, which can be both weighted and rated differently.
b) Core motivations/skills (e.g. innate abilities).
Neither of these models predicts variation and so BUPA has used an approach akin to
horserace betting, whereby they invest attention on those individuals in the lead and
avoid spreading the investment too far as this can dilute the impact.
• What do you do with them once you know who they are? BUPA places its talent
in roles that broadens and stretches them and uses their experiences to
demonstrate their performance ability.
• What do we do with everyone else? Everyone at BUPA is entitled to leadership
and management training, with an additional focus to those who are identified as
• Functional/clinical talent? The philosophy of breadth and stretch should be
applied to individuals, regardless of their background.
• How transparent should we be? Totally transparent – it is worse to not tell people
about what you are doing and/or why.
• How do you measure success? The fundamental measure is the pipeline of
talent: the speed of a number of successors. Succession planning has a number of
measurements including boards and peer review processes.
Simon Hall: “The ‘Next in Lines’ Development Programme”
Simon Hall (Director of Corporate Development, NHS Waltham Forest) delivered a case
study on work already in practice at an NHS organisation in London. Waltham Forest is in
North East London and is a commissioning only organisation with 120 staff. Simon has only
been in the organisation for three months and is responsible for phase 2 of the “Next in
The “Next in Lines” programme was aimed at Band 8 staff who had demonstrated potential.
There are 13 individuals in the cohort, some of whom were volunteered for the programme.
The programme was also initially started when Waltham Forest had a favourable budget to
think about development. It was a proactive local workforce development which proved to
be effective, but also led to some individuals leaving the trust. Overall, Waltham Forest
concluded that it the programme had been a good use of resources and that senior level
commitment had been key to its success. Simon further commented that we need to
acknowledge the need to develop NHS management across London, which is something
that has been talked about for years but is something that the NHS needs to learn from
existing programmes and take forward.
Stage 1 of the programme looked at learning styles, case studies and a one-to-one with an
occupational psychologist. The cohort also participated in the “Look Out Not Up” sessions
in July 2008, NHS Leadership Qualities Framework (Summer 2008) and lunchtime learning
sets (from Autumn 2008). Feedback from the first stage was extremely positive, with the
cohort finding the programme very useful and constructive as it allowed them space and
time to consider a plan. Lessons learnt (for the organisation) indicated that the programme
was only valuable where there was follow up and was particularly unvalued when it was not
followed up by the participant’s manager. Individuals, including managers, also need
support when providing feedback so that it is in the most constructive manner, particularly
as some managers may not have had recent management training. There was a further
need to tackle team behaviours and learn lesson for organisation’s culture and to be honest
about them. The programme faced several key challenges including maintaining
commitment to the programme from both participants and their managers due to competing
priorities and the restructuring of the organisation. Whilst this changing context did present
a challenge for the Next in Lines, Simon commented that this was often the context for NHS
organisations and that leadership development programmes would have to be prepared for
this. A further challenge for the programme was ensuring that it was the best value for
money fits in with the World Class Commissioning Agenda (WCC) and can be embedded
throughout the organisation and continues to be embedded in the future. In the outcomes
from stage 1 (please see chart below), ONELCS is the provider organisation that was
created from Waltham Forest and those that left the PCT and achieved promotion in other
PCTs or the private sector and had been encouraged to do so from participating in the
Stage 2 of the programme aims to continue WCC achievements and to improve targets, it
also aims to be embed the dialogue within people’s PDPs so that it will embed performance
development in annual staff appraisals. The programme will include New Action Learning
Sets which will be focused on the WCC and will be actively facilitated. Stage 2 will also
include follow-up diagnostic work with staff still at Waltham Forest. The new programme
(stage 2) will be more intense and potential participants will have to volunteer themselves
and will also include coaching for both participants and managers. NB All programmes run
by the Leading for Health team at NHS London have to be applied for by the individuals
wanting to be participants (i.e. they are not volunteered by managers) and they must have
senior level sponsorship before they can apply.
Simon then went on to discuss the broader lessons for talent management
• Further research is necessary into how big companies value management
development and how to embed this corporately within the NHS.
• Programmes need to be more cost effective and spread across organisations
nationally (or at least regionally) so as to share the costs.
• Smaller, commissioning only organisations have specific issues not tackled
before. Issues such as which specific skills are necessary and what staff
commissioning only organisations need.
• Realign the Key Skills Framework (KSF) to WCC competencies and allow more
Agenda for Change (AfC) freedoms for commissioning PCTs. It is difficult in
commissioning organisations to develop people if you have to align everything with
KSF. There needs to be recognition that AfC needs to be refocused around talent
and leadership. We need to look at how Talent Management work through
organisations and where the gaps are.
The last action on the agenda was the panel discussion. Tables had been provided with
forms so that they could write down any questions as the conference progressed and were
provided with ten minutes at the beginning of the panel session to discuss issues at their
tables and to come up with questions. NHS London provided themes for delegates based
on the presentations that they had heard in order to help structure the discussion and
provide focus for participants whilst developing questions.
The panel members were:
• Dr Sarah Crowther, Chief Executive at Harrow PCT
• Chris Garner, Director of Talent Management, BUPA
• Simon Hall, Director of Corporate Development, NHS Waltham Forest
• Rebecca Myers, Director of Organisational Development and Learning, Royal Free
Hampstead NHS Trust
• Sir Robert Naylor, Chief Executive, University College London Hospitals NHS
• Katy Steward, Senior Fellow, Leadership Development, Kings Fund
The themes delegates were provided with were:
• Lessons Learned: any questions about case studies or experiences
• Managing Talent Management as a System: the role of NHS London
• Talent Management and the NHS: London vs. National
• Organisational Talent Management Challenges
• Roles in Talent Management: Chief Executives vs. Directors
• Any other questions
Key points from the discussion:
• NHS needs to develop talent to as much of a resource as its equipment.
• The best way to retain talent/people is to develop them.
• Chief Executives have to understand their role in the system, but organisations are
different and Chief Executives will need to play different roles accordingly.
• Chief Executives need to commit and learn how to identify opportunities as well as
• Organisations have a responsibility to formulate a robust TM plan now and can’t wait
for a national plan to be given to them by the DH/NHS London.
• Partnerships and linkages need to be developed and nurtured across NHS
organisations and outside the NHS into the public and private sectors.
• Communication – need to provide motivation for managers to get involved rather
than the perceived threat of losing staff. The message is key in framing talent
management as a process that imports as well as exports talent.
• Talent management needs to support, recognise, encourage and reward good
practice at all levels, this includes supporting managers and developing them as
• We need to make the most of opportunities within organisations and recognise when
it is important to release individuals into the wider system and where partnership is
possible (shadowing etc). Secondments should work both ways – releasing and
receiving people. Secondment etc processed need to made better and easier for
• You should do want you think is right for talent management in your organisation.
NHS London aims to continue to develop the resources on its website to be accessible for
all stakeholders and staff who wish to know more about talent management in general and
what it means for NHS organisations in London. Resources from the Talent Management
Conferences can be found at http://www.london.nhs.uk/publications/tools-and-
resources/leading-for-health--talent-management-resources. NHS London would like to
include more case studies in this resources section and would like to invite anyone to
submit examples from their organisations to the LeadingforHealth@london.nhs.uk.
We will continue to host talent management conferences every six months to continue to
regroup and look at what we have done at both system and organisation level, how we can
develop talent and where our talent management journey is headed. The next conference
will therefore be held in January 2010 and further details will follow.