Can Stars be Made?

February 21, 2018

As managers, we all hope that we can find a ‘diamond in the rough’ that we can polish and shine into a superstar who rises through the ranks to be someone we really depend on in our company.  If we’re honest, even though it can take some work, we’d rather have this than trying to ‘make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear’ (to use another cliché). Or would we? Are these actually two sides of the same coin? Becky explains.

By Becky Mee

The debate has again risen about what star talent looks like and how businesses can plug the skills gap as they grow. This debate is split between the need to hire from the outside and bring in fresh blood and ideas or hiring from within and nurturing home-grown talent.

But what does this mean?

The pre-polished diamond

So why do companies need to hire talent externally? They can’t find the talent internally or their needs have changed.  Also, the market may have grown so fast that they’ve been left behind and need to hire externally to keep up. Whilst costly, an external person can bring fresh ideas, different experiences and skills; however, this can create a culture clash if the new person’s values don’t match your existing ones.

Polishing your own diamond

Whilst this can take time, it can reward loyalty and harness talents and a knowledge of the business. Internal talent can be less costly; however, there could be costs in time taken to train and develop skill sets.  Your internal diamond may lack experience and a wider perspective.

So, what do you need to do?

Step 1 – your business plan

Whichever approach you’re taking, it all starts with your business plan and what you are wanting to achieve and how quickly. I know it sounds obvious, but without knowing what your business goals are, you can’t identify the skills you need to get you there!

Step 2 – Skills analysis

Looking at the skills you need to achieve your business plan will help you identify which skills you already have in the business and what you are lacking. Once you have this, you can start to look at whether or not you have the potential talent in the business to fill this gap internally and how long it could take.

Step 3 – Assessing your talent

This process will involve some frank and honest conversations about the potential of your current people, so you can identify who is a good solid stable employee who can “do the do” and who has the potential to grow and be a leader or creator of the future. Whether you map your talent or use a 9-box grid, there are different ways to get the same result.

Step 4 – Planning for the future

Now you’ve identified your skills and pot of talented people, is your current structure right to help you achieve this?  If it is, what if someone leaves or things change unexpectedly? Creating a plan for future is important so you can see:

  • Who internally can step into the role with the right development.
  • How long it will take them to get there – within the year, 1 – 2 years, 2 years plus.
  • Where you may need to hire externally for the skill set and experience you need.


Step 5 – Making it happen

Now you’ve got the plan, this needs to be tied into your:

  • Training plan for the next couple of years.
  • Recruitment plan for the next couple of years.


So, you’re hiring people in line with your business plan. This will need reviewing throughout the year to make sure it’s still what you need, and making changes as you go.  Once you’ve done the homework, keeping the plan flexible and alive will be far easier!

Step 6 – Keeping it alive

Polishing your own diamonds means regular feedback and checking your employees’ growth and performance is on track. Having a robust performance review process that gives continuous feedback is key. People will either rise to the challenge or they won’t.  If not, they need to be performance managed out of the business – hard but fair.

If you need help with any of these steps or how to polish your own internal diamonds, give us a call and we will be happy to help.


Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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