Talent Hoarding – Getting in the Way


Talent Hoarding—Getting in the Way

A recent article in the WSJ, “When Ability Holds Back Advancement,” bemoaned the fact that talent hoarding can have a negative impact on the bottom line and throws a monkey wrench in an organization’s talent management strategy.  Talent hoarding is the practice that occurs when a manager holds onto top performers rather than transferring or promoting them to other areas of the company.

This can have a negative effect on employee morale and engagement of those who are ready, willing, and able to move into a different area of the business but are being blocked by their boss or their boss’s boss’s boss… you get the picture.

The Institute for Corporate Productivity indicated that in 2016, talent hoarding practices were evident for over 50% of the 695 employers being surveyed.  Organizations are already scrambling for talent in a robust and growing economy.  Dealing with a workforce of almost half of which is comprised of millennials, who are mobile and ready to move for greener pastures, finds that some company managers are engaging in a natural tendency to hold onto their top performers.

Negative ramifications resulting from talent hoarding include increases in high potential and millennial employee turnover and also leads to other key people departing the organization.  This is a genuine widespread risk that was reported by WillisTowersWatson (2015) noting that more than 70% of high-retention-risk employees say they have to leave their organization in order to advance their careers.

A major contributor to talent hoarding includes the fact that  “managers are rarely rewarded for moving individuals to different parts of the operation.”  Therefore, this lack of incentive does nothing to foster any accountability to move stars out of the organization.  And, there’s a big perceived incentive for managers to keep their superstars with them—who wants to give that up?!

Here are some tips to prevent talent hoarding in your organization:

  • Hold managers accountable for moving people outside of their business units
  • Reward those managers that develop others and move out of their operations
  • Utilize a talent review process where senior leaders determine employee readiness for a move outside of their current position
  • Identify the strengths and development needs of each individual and identify development opportunities
  • Identify potential short-, mid-, and long-term career paths for each individual
  • Measure talent rotation within each division, business sector, and other key areas
  • Identify length of time each high potential, and/or management stays in a position
  • Create a process where high performers are able to present themselves (skills, abilities, accomplishments) to senior leadership
  • Be an advocate for your employee
  • Seek opportunities to expand their growth
  • Communicate their successes upward
  • Remember to focus on the organization’s needs, be neutral
  • Seek to find the best fit for future positions

These are but a few ideas on how organizations can prevent talent hoarding and enhance employee retention, engagement, and ensure that the pipeline is filled with high performing employees.  This approach will further increase your company’s ability to attain their strategic goals in the short term as well as the long term.

Author: Patricia Dammann



Wall Street Journal, “When Ability Holds Back Advancement”  (April 12, 2017)


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