The Economist Intelligence Unit (the research arm of the has a short report on how important talented people have become to business.

Talent management now features prominently on the CEO’s agenda, according to a white paper by the Economist Intelligence Unit, in co-operation with Development Dimensions International (DDI), a global human resources consulting firm. Once only of concern to human resources (HR) departments, it is now among CEOs’ most pressing responsibilities, taking more than 20% of their time. The overall view is summed up by Tom Wilson of US insurance giant Allstate Corp.: “The most important thing I have to worry about is people.”

Read the report here.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • Seven of the 20 executives interviewed spend at least 30% of their time on talent management and another eight estimated their commitment to be at least 20%.
  • Although the executives interviewed engage in talent development activities and succession planning, much of their involvement is ad hoc and does not stem from a formal plan explicitly linked to corporate goals.
  • While they say that strong talent management leads to improved financial performance, they do not measure return on investment explicitly.
  • All the executives interviewed write formal evaluations of the people who report directly to them, usually half a dozen senior managers. They say that performance reviews are a key part of their companies’ approach to talent management, ensuring their organisations identify the best candidates and spot weaknesses in their executive pipeline.
  • Most of them evaluate leader behaviour as well as results, and some look for other opportunities to spot potential early.
  • Many help promising executives develop their skills by providing coaching or mentoring through promotions and important work projects.
  • A few firms use formal assessments to determine leaders’ readiness for future jobs and as the basis for a targeted approach to personal development.
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