A&N Media IT, like many firms, is operating in very challenging business conditions. In order to achieve its IT strategy, it is clear that different talents are needed over time. The IT strategy relies on unlocking the potential of the entire team, recognising delivery, positive attitude and creativity.

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Talent management is becoming a critical issue for executives globally. The war for talent does not abate and this is caused by several factors:

#Limited investment in training resources including budget and time, which results in the need for more experienced staff.

#Roles nowadays require broader skills. IT managers need to balance the demands of different stakeholders, be able to manage change and ambiguity yet drive innovative improvements and cost efficiencies.

#A shortage of key skills in specialised industries.

#The need to identify how to unlock staff discretionary effort.

#‘Generation Y' recruits who are more selective in their career choices and for whom they work.

#Changing demographics that are causing- a management and leadership vacuum.

A CIO Executive Board study (Read the CIO Executive Board column on CIO UK here) in 2009 found that of 25 attributes of world-class IT, talent management was identified as one of the most important. Yet, in organisations with 250-499 employees, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in 2007 identified that only 54 per cent undertake talent management activities. This increases only to 61 per cent for firms with more than 500 employees.

At my company, faced with having to deliver cost reduction to the business and the potential for a demotivated workforce, it was evident that innovative action and a new way of working was required so a talent manager was recruited to focus on the identification, development, engagement, deployment and retention of high-quality people.

The higher-quality person you attract, the more they will help to deliver results and drive the business forward. Developing people is not just achieved by providing training courses. It is clearly what talented people want as they ask for:

#Practical challenges;

#Autonomy and the opportunity to make mistakes;

#A line manager who is a key player within the business;

#Development goals;

#Plans to address lower performers.

Engaged people drive an organisation's results. People should know their development and progression is as important as the business itself. Without talented people, businesses will ultimately operate at the strength of their weakest links.

It is vital to deploy key people in business-critical positions to deliver the IT strategy. People need stimulation and challenge, so make sure it is possible to move people across a business quickly on secondments or assignments to tackle issues. Instil a positive praise culture where calculated risk-taking is encouraged.

Talented people will always be in demand. Find out what motivates and gives job satisfaction: this is not always remuneration. Talent forums help to demystify and support managers seeking to proactively drive talent management. This includes succession planning and driving talent initiatives in order to identify emerging the talent population and future leaders.

Employee engagement is also very important. It is essential to ensure everyone has an opportunity to make businesses a great place to work. Creative and innovative ideas can be achieved through two-way communication and suggestion schemes. At A&N Media, IT training spend has more than halved yet the team believes there has been greater investment in them through the combination of talent initiatives, ‘breakfast club' briefings from technology vendors, and internal ‘lunch and learn' sessions and workshops.

Talent management is a burgeoning area of expertise which gives businesses focus, drive and assurance that the right person is in the right job. Effective talent management requires a shift in a business and manager's mindset which is supported from the top and applied consistently and continually. It is definitely not a one-off, tick-in-the-box exercise.

About the author:

David Henderson is CIO of A&N Media IT Services which serves the publishing group behind the Daily Mail, Metro and more than 100 local titles