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The CEO’s Role in Talent Management (in conjunction with The Economist Intelligence Unit)

How top executives in ten countries are nurturing the leaders of tomorrow. An Economist Intelligence Unit white paper written in cooperation with DDI.

Talent management now features prominently on the CEO’s agenda, according to this new white paper. Once only of concern to human resources, it’s now among CEO's most pressing responsibilities, taking more than 20 percent of their time. The overall view is summed up by Tom Wilson, the COO of US insurance giant Allstate Corp.: “The most important thing I have to worry about is people."

The findings underscore that it is no longer a case of whether talent management is on the Board agenda, as a must-have for external stakeholders, but ensuring the CEO gets adequate strategic support in tackling this issue.

“This shift in focus provides an opportunity for HR VPs to get closer to the CEO and be an essential contributor at Board level,” says Matt Paese, VP, Executive Solutions at DDI. “CEOs spend substantial time in activities to build leadership capability, but HR’s role is to connect these in a coherent strategy based on business needs,"

Key Findings

  • A quarter of the executives interviewed spend at least 30 percent of their time on talent management and another eight estimated their commitment to be at least 20 percent.
  • While they engage in development activities and succession planning, much of their involvement is relatively ad hoc and does not stem from a formal plan explicitly linked to corporate goals.
  • While they say that strong talent management leads to improved financial performance, they do not measure ROI explicitly.
  • All the executives interviewed write formal evaluations of the people who report directly to them, usually a half dozen senior managers. They say that performance reviews are a key part of their companies’ approaches to talent management, ensuring their organizations identify the best candidates and spot weaknesses in their executive pipeline. Most of them evaluate leader behavior as well as results, and some look for other opportunities to spot potential early.
  • A few firms also use formal assessments to determine leaders’ readiness for future jobs and support key placement or promotion decisions.



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