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Talent Accelerator (part 3)

Justin Allen /

Talent and selecting the right individuals is imperative to success, even beyond the world of business, management, and human resources. At The RBL Group, we are constantly learning new ways of identifying and cultivating talent, in order to help our clients strengthen their businesses and grow.

Recently, I shared the results from a study on Talent in Asia, performed by RBL and the Singapore Ministry of Manpower. We evaluated how talent impacts 570 of the best performing businesses in China, India, and Singapore, in both the public and private sectors. This is the final part of a series, Summary of the 10 Secrets to Success from the Best Performing Organizations in Asia. Because many countries in Asia are shifting from exporting low-cost manufactured goods to exporting high-value financial and technical services, it has become difficult for many organizations to drive, cultivate, and foster talent, during this period of tremendous economic growth and dramatic transition.

As the first part of this series explained, our objective in this study was to offer valuable insights and tools that will help accelerate talent development. In the second part of this series article, we carefully examined the first five talent secrets, which focus on two Talent Domains: Leadership and Promotion.  In this third and final article, we will discuss the last five talent secrets, which focus on Development, Sourcing, and Remove talent domains.

Secret #6: Watch for the 4 “A”s of potential: ambition, ability, agility, achievement

The best performing organizations are constantly seeking individuals who display the potential to achieve more. In doing so, they focus specifically on individuals who possess the 4 “A”s of Potential, namely:

  • Ambition: Driven to achieve, do more, grow, and lead
  • Ability: Demonstrate strong technical and social skills and can to deliver results
  • Agility: Capable of learning and developing new skills, as well as can work well in nebulous environments.
  • Achievement: Proven track record of delivering results

Organizations should support and develop high-potential individuals who demonstrate these 4 characteristics.

Secret #7: Create an inventory or menu of experiences leaders need to be successful – rather than relying on training

Poorly managed organizations fail to provide development opportunities for their leaders. High-performing organizations create a “menu” of development experiences, with a focus on ensuring 50% of learning happens on-the-job, 30% through interactive education, and 20% through life experience. When leaders are allowed to grow in a personalized, interactive way, their growth accelerates and they deliver better results.

Secret #8: Avoid generic programs – ensure all development directly ties to business results.

Mediocre organizations often provide “off-the-shelf” lecture-oriented training courses. While providing some training is better than no training, high-performing organizations ensure that leadership development is directly tied to business results. Once top performing organizations establish a strategic business case for developing leaders (Secret #2), they then work with leadership development vendors to build customized programs, which include projects tied to business results. By structuring leadership development to focus on projects that are critical to business the return on investment will always be positive.

Secret #9: Alumni are the very best source of talent that delivers business results.

Staffing experts are acutely aware that the strongest job candidates are often referred by existing employees. Our research uncovered an additional secret: employees who produce the best results are  in fact referred by “alumni” (people who previously worked for an organization). The best organizations actively stay in touch with alumni and regularly engage with them in social activities. While socializing, they discuss current job openings and potential referrals.

Secret #10: Remove poor performers quickly and with humanity. Failure to move them out quickly depletes the entire organization.

This last secret really isn’t a secret at all – removing poor performers is difficult to do, especially in Asia. However, the very best organizations find a way to remove poor performers from critical roles quickly, and they do so with humanity. The best organizations understand that there must be clear accountability for poor performance.


The way talent is brought into the organization, managed while in the organization, and either retained or moved out of the organization clearly affects the performance of the business. The descriptive and predictive statistics about talent in Asia and business performance tell a story about baseline practices essential for both leaders and HR professionals. We hope that research like this study illustrates that Asia is more is more than a manufacturing hub, but also a repository for innovative talent management practices. The 10 secrets learned from our study can be leveraged by any organization to accelerate past the global competition and gain competitive advantage. Now is the time for leaders everywhere to step up and leverage talent to exceed stakeholder expectations.

We appreciate the support of the Singapore Ministry of Manpower and our colleagues at PwC Singapore for sponsoring and collaborating on this research.