THE BLOG

Talent management and retaining our rising stars

25/04/2014 10:43 BST | Updated 24/06/2014 10:59 BST

The advertising industry is in transition. In this, the most auspicious period and disruptive period in recent history, attracting, growing and retaining agency talent is critical. But in this unprecedented market, what does 'talent' even look like?

In many regards, the answer is the same as it ever was. In the words of Bill Bernbach, founder of DDB (now Adam&EveDDB):

"When we started our agency, we had in mind precisely the kind of people we wanted with us. There were two requirements: You had to be talented and you had to be nice. If you were nice but without talent, we were very sorry, but you just wouldn't do. We had to 'make it.' And only great talent would help us do that. If you were a great talent, but not a nice person, we had no hesitation in saying 'No.' Life is too short to sacrifice so much of it, to living with a bastard."

A sound recruitment strategy and one I've always followed. Yet in today's market, I'd propose adding a further dimension; that of adaptability. Find talent that enjoys change. That embraces learning. That's hungry for new skills. Nice, talented and adaptable. They're the people I want to work with.

Yet finding nice, talented and adaptable individuals from an ever-diminishing pool is a challenge (the only trickier thing is keeping them). And of course, hiring brilliant people is only the beginning. It's a foundation for the agency to invest in, to build on. To stay ahead of changes in market pace, a strategic plan must evolve and develop this talent. We must think laterally about training, coupling traditional approaches with access to wider life-experiences. In turn this will also fuel innovative, fresh thinking, let's strive for variety; different backgrounds, different levels of education, different passions.

I come back to the importance of adaptable talent. The most attractive candidates recognise they are not the finished product. Therefore, an agency that prioritises talent management is an undoubtedly attractive prospect. Failing to invest enough in training (both financially and emotively) will put agencies at a distinct disadvantage in the talent attraction war - and nudge existing talent towards the exit.

However, in an ever diminishing pool, should we be adding extra filters to our already limited searches? Will the extra criteria of 'adaptable' restrict our hunt for the very best talent?

I believe not. We have a £16bn industry delivering £100bn a year back into the British economy. Our industry is people. Its success is solely down to the talent of these people. Its success is entirely reliant on them. We have to find 'Talented, Nice, Adaptable' individuals and invest in them, heavily. This is why talent management and training is the key to attracting, growing and retaining those rising stars.