Valmet needed the right kind of talent to drive future revenue and profit growth in a challenging competitive landscape. For Hikka Alatalo-Korpi, VP of Talent Management, that meant rethinking how the company identified and developed its most promising employees.
“We wanted to make sure that we were able to spot not just those with technology expertise, but people who had real leadership qualities. And to do it fairly and consistently.”
Alatalo-Korpi explains that Valmet required an understanding not just of how well employees had performed in the past, but of how successful they would be in a future senior position. “Historically, our decisions over whom to develop as leaders have tended to rely too much on performance data, which may not be relevant to more demanding roles.”
Alatalo-Korpi comments, “I had heard of the SHL high potential model and once I’d spoken to them and seen the value of their approach, including the ability to benchmark our talent against that of other technology companies, I saw the huge potential.”
By showing us how to identify and nurture our next generation of leaders, our work with SHL is helping to secure a strong, profitable future for Valmet.
Valmet worked with SHL to closely define the exact qualities that would lead to an employee reaching and succeeding in a position at least two levels above his or her current role. This established that two key components of the SHL HIPO model, Ability and Aspiration, were highly predictive of leadership success.
Out of some 1,000 managers and their successors going through Valmet’s talent review process, 230 who had been nominated as HIPOs were invited to complete online assessments mapped against Ability and Aspiration.
Alatalo-Korpi comments, “Every HIPO nominee was given a two-hour session when they were given personalized feedback from the assessments and were helped to build a development plan to address any competency gaps. This was really well-received by all the participants.”
Valmet was also given SHL analysis that showed how everyone mapped against the Ability and Aspiration components. This was then used in the company’s talent review process. SHL made development recommendations based on the analysis, which also compared Valmet’s talent to industry benchmarks.
Introducing science-based assessment revealed that line managers were not always the best judges of high potential. SHL found that only 44 percent of Valmet employees previously nominated by line managers for HIPO development were likely to rise to and succeed as leaders. As Alatalo-Korpi explains, it was important that all individuals, including those not considered high-potential, felt supported.
“They might not have the potential right now to be our future leaders, but they are our highest performers, so we need to make sure our middle managers look after them and give them appropriate development, too.”
The SHL HIPO solution has given Valmet Corporation precise insight into which employees are likely to rise to and be effective in a senior position. This is helping to secure a strong leadership pipeline for the future, as well to ensure that Valmet’s development investment is far more cost-effective.
As Alatalo-Korpi says, “We’re now much more confident that people who enter the program will repay our investment and become the talented leaders and managers who will deliver future success.”
Today, Valmet has a comprehensive talent management process for managers across the organization. This is helping to improve employee engagement and retention and making it easier for employees to identify other suitable roles, whether through upward or horizontal moves through the firm.
Alatalo-Korpi sees the program so far as just the start of a process that will deliver even greater benefits in the years to come. “We’re still learning,” she says. “We need to do more to help our managers nominate the right people and to follow through to make sure our people remain engaged and committed.” She concludes: “By showing us how to identify and nurture our next generation of leaders, our work with SHL is helping to secure a strong, profitable future for Valmet.”