Plant Your Talent Investments in Fertile Ground

I recently heard an interesting presentation by Holly Kortright, Senior VP, HR of Deltek. She was talking about where her company has decided to direct their available resources for employee capacity development. They target four areas:

  1. High Potentials for leadership positions
  2. High Performers
  3. People possessing critical, hard to replace, skills
  4. People in key positions (e.g. long experience and intimate knowledge of key work processes)

With the US government entering a time of cutbacks, Deltek is facing shifting markets. Add to this the general economy isn’t out of the woods and the demographic turnover (boomer departures) will continue unabated. Sound familiar? Most of our clients face all three of these challenges.

Organizations need a talent investment strategy that helps to retain their best people and grows those employees who will lead the enterprise through the complexity and uncertainty that awaits us over the next decade and beyond.

Point #1 is critical. Whether you have 4000 or 40 employees, you need to be thinking about a pipeline of potential managers and executives. Too often smaller businesses ignore this strategic piece. The “hipos” you identify are people you want to have with you for the long haul, making increasingly higher value contributions to your business.

Holly’s other three groups contain are people who you want also to keep on board, even if they have limited potential to be promoted to higher levels. Many of these are motivated primarily by the type of work they do–interesting, challenging, personally satisfying, offering the opportunity to make a difference.

So, as you seek to optimize your limited resources for employee development, I think Holly’s four targets provide an excellent template for decision making.

© 2013 – 2016, Ian Cook. All rights reserved.

Ian Cook About Ian Cook

Ian Cook, presenter and consultant, works with managers who want to increase their effectiveness as a leader and build a stronger team. To book Ian for a training seminar, team facilitation or keynote presentation, call toll-free at: 1-888-FULCRUM (385-2786) or e-mail: For more articles and book reviews of interest to managers please go to: