The past few years have been an exhausting time for managers and HR teams. The Great Resignation. Workplace stress at an all-time high. Employee engagement falling for the first time in 11 years. That’s why it’s important to better understand your people through talent mapping. You can see where skills lie and how you can help develop staff.

But how do you know where to invest? There are the obvious shining stars, but what about those rough diamonds? How do they fit into your talent mapping program?

If you’ve managed your team for a while, you might think you know everything about your people. You’ll know their strengths and weaknesses, career aspirations, and what they enjoy most about their job.

Well, we’re here to tell you that’s not enough.

In fact, 27% of staff say they would leave a job because their feel their potential is being ignored. And more than half (64%) of employees feel they’ve more to contribute.

Talent acquisition versus development

Hiring new talent isn’t cheap. The Society for Human Resource Management calculates the average base cost-per-hire to more than $4,400. But when filtering for executive positions, this jumps to $15,000. By the time you add on things like salary, technology, pension, and insurance it’s nearer $50,000+ per hire.

Meanwhile in the UK, the average cost per case of staff turnover during 2019 was £30,000.

So, since hiring externally is so costly, why are so many companies hesitant to upskill their current employees?

One reason might again be cost.

According to a 2019 paper from the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group, investing in an effective training infrastructure costs almost $25,000 per person.

But that’s not the full story. The ROI on training programmes is well-established, with some studies showing you can expect back more than 200% in profitability per employee.

Feedback minimises the impact of bias when you’re mapping talent

Managers aren’t omniscient. Being able to check your biases is an integral part of how to find your hidden employee talent. But how do you minimize bias through feedback?

When your team do their regular weekly check-in, they’re demonstrating their potential. Your people are building a body of solid evidence of their successes. And their peers get the chance to call out exceptional work or going above and beyond. A sure sign of potential.

Two types of bias that regular feedback can mitigate are recency bias and proximity bias.

Recency bias

You’re more likely to remember something clearly if it happened recently. But despite how obvious that is, a lot of managers still fall prey to recency bias. This is especially true during review season. Without ongoing feedback and reliable documentation, both you and your employee are liable to only focus on the weeks or months leading up to their review. Easily overlooking great work that’s been delivered earlier in the year.

Proximity bias

With remote and hybrid work becoming increasingly common, it’s important to tackle proximity bias wherever you find it. Office-based managers typically take more notice of the people they share a workspace with, despite remote workers often matching or even exceeding their in-office productivity levels.

Frequent feedback helps all staff to share their experiences, thoughts, and outputs. This really helps reduce the impact of managers not seeing all their team on a similar frequency.

Recognition feedback for talent mapping

Recognition reduces turnover by shining a light on often unseen greatness. People leave their jobs for lots of different reasons. But some are more common and problematic than others. Many leave their employers because they feel that their hard work is under-valued. Deloitte found that companies with strong recognition processes faced 31% less voluntary employee turnover.

The simple act of recognition is enough to keep 60% of millennials engaged. Another study found that 66% of employees would quit their job if they felt underappreciated, rising to 76% for Millennial respondents.

Creating a regular channel for feedback that also encourages recognition is critical to unearthing great work and keeping your people engaged. This is clearly becoming more important for your younger staff.

Four questions to ask during a talent mapping exercise

Whether you use check-ins, surveys, or a quick informal email, you need to think carefully about the questions you’re asking your employees. There are dozens of questions you could ask but the wrong question, too many, or the right question asked badly, will have a detrimental impact.

If you’re trying to uncover your team’s hidden talents, especially for talent mapping, then there are some specific questions you need to ask regularly.

1. What support do you need to be at your best?

Whether it’s a training course, help with wellbeing or just a few new bits of tech. Asking this question gives autonomy to your people and empowers them to decide what they need to be great every day.

2. How can we help you develop your career here?

Not only does this boost employee autonomy, but it shows your people you care about their careers. It tells them that you are an employer keen to help them grow and upskill.

3. How we can improve as a business?

Innovation is key to success. But all-too-often employees feel they aren’t being listened to. Or they lack the confidence to speak up. By asking this question you’re giving your people the space to tell you what they feel is lacking, and how they might change it. You might even unearth your company’s next killer idea.

4. Is there anyone in the business who has gone the extra mile for you lately?

Peer recognition is a powerful tool for surfacing actions that often go unnoticed by managers. It highlights great work and keeps people engaged. Asking your staff to recognize the great efforts going on around them means you power-up your ability to know where your superstars are.

Learn how a weekly employee check-in is the foundation of moving to more transparent feedback practices: