Is your talent overlooked? APS leaders can’t shake ‘in-crowd’ perception

By Harley Dennett

Friday September 2, 2016

Leadership search and business recruitment concept as a group of pawn chess pieces and one individual standing out with a king crown cast shadow as a metaphor for the chosen one.

Busy senior executives aren’t making time to identify and develop the talent in their organisations. Real or imagined, that’s the perception in the latest APS census results, hurting leaders’ ability to bring employees with them.

The Australian Public Service Commission has followed up on its earlier set of results from the APS census on immediate supervisors, this time addressing the perceptions of senior leaders.

All classifications were more likely to agree that senior leaders were of high quality than disagree. Similarly, more agreed than disagreed that senior leaders were sufficiently visible, effective communicators and engage with staff.

That support dropped away when asked if senior leaders made time to identify and develop talent in their organisations. Only 28% of APS and only 32% of the EL grades agreed. A slightly higher number disagreed.

“Talent management is critical to building workforce capability for the future,” the APSC wrote. “These results suggest that senior leaders will need to play a more active and visible role as talent managers in their teams and organisations.”

The latest talent management guide from the APSC is based in part on the nine-box grid model and the work of researchers who found that “only 15% of an organisation’s highest performing employees can develop and adapt enough to succeed in more senior and complex roles.” The other 85% of high performing employees remain strong contributors in roles which support them to contribute their best.

However, except for the 15%, their supervisors and senior leadership, the practical aspects of talent management in the APS largely aren’t visible to the workforce.

Table: Employee perceptions of senior leaders behaviour by classification (2016 APS census)

As in previous years, larger agencies see a wider disparity of perceptions between SES, EL and APS classifications, likely linked to SES with wider spans of control having less time and visiblity to APS employees.

Pockets of poor talent management are being addressed by cross-APS work led by departmental secretaries and deputy secretaries to embed a more systmatic approach to talent management.

The APSC also saw scope to improve the pereptions that APS employees hold of SES officers by increasing the visibilty of the SES officers.

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