7 Key Questions About Talent Management

By Human Capital Group
16th April 2021

Over the course of three webinars, our Managing Director Gerard Ball and two industry titans, Andy Beasley and Darren Jones, have discussed the finer points of ‘How to Build a Winning Housebuilding Team’.

In Part 3 of the webinar, they explored the final piece of the puzzle, talent management.

They covered the following:

  • Explosive growth – How to help your team consistently produce quality results when under pressure.
  • The pillars of staff retention and acquisition: Money, career and professional development, succession planning and company culture.

Both Andy and Darren have come through the ranks of the housebuilding industry themselves and know the ins and outs of talent management, having been the talent themselves and managed others. Both of them have previously been the Chairman of PLCs and privately-owned companies and they are now both working as non-execs within SMEs.

Watch the full webinar here or read on to understand the key takeaways.


1. As a company goes through a growth curve, how do you maintain the quality of your product?


Darren: “The scalability of any business is important. Keep it simple and it shouldn’t cause too many issues as long as your processes are in place.

“After a certain size, the discipline directors will go beyond the critical mass that they can manage so the information being provided to each outlet will end up being fragmented which will ultimately affect your build programme. I would say 500-600 units per division is the most they can handle.”


2. There are lots of moving parts to a business, what are the ‘key plates’ that we have to spin in order to keep a business moving?


Andy: “From what I have found, some discipline directors aren’t as experienced in recruitment as they need to be so new starters can stumble which causes continuity, build and customer service problems. This shows that recruitment really is one of those ‘key plates’.

“Expanding in busy times and then finding and recruiting the right people can be very difficult.”

Darren: “You need to map things out properly and take your time on the technical design and getting the costs right.

“You can’t judge someone on doing a bad job if you haven’t given them the right tools to start with! Good people are hard to find and even harder to hang on to because everybody wants them.

“When it comes to housebuilding, big is not necessarily beautiful, but it can be dangerous if it’s not carefully controlled.”


3. How does professional development / promoting from within fit into this?


Andy: “Lots of people are promoted internally from within the housebuilding industry as it can be very difficult to find people externally, but it is an important aspect of both people management and professional development.”

Darren: “I sometimes think that the housebuilding industry tends to over promote from within. While you should always look internally first, and promoting from within is good for team morale, it does have its negatives. This includes reducing your ability to meet new people, learn from their experiences and expand your horizons. When you are always promoting from within then you may well be limiting your abilities.

“You can’t ignore the business case for introducing yourself to new people, so it becomes about finding a balance.”


4. Are chief executives understanding about new sites and the time it takes to set them up?


Andy: “In my experience, chief execs are usually quite short on empathy for new offices. The expectation is that you have got a business plan for a reason and you should be hitting the milestones and KPIs that it specified.

“This is another reason why recruiting new talent for a new region can be challenging. A regional / discipline director working in an office that has already been going for some time is very likely to be hitting their targets and thus getting their expected bonuses, whereas it’s much tougher in a new region.

“The housebuilding industry is very bonus-led and so persuading someone to move into a position where their monetary reward is going to be harder to achieve isn’t easy!”

Darren: “The fundamental thing about our industry is cash. We get through it at an extraordinary rate, and it takes so long to get returns.

“Overhead costs for expansion are just one part of this so you have to stick tight to a business plan and look after your staff and your team as best you can within that.”


5. How do you personally make sure you don’t become complacent within your career?


Darren: “I’ve never had the chance to become complacent! It’s such a fast-paced industry that if you show a moment of weakness then it doesn’t take much for it all to fall apart.

“The only thing I will say is that a successful regional managing director could maybe slip into complacency, especially if they’ve got a great team, with great land and great sales as it would be easy to step back. But the reality is that not all the elements will be working how they should be so there’s always something that will need fixing!”

Andy: “If you get to a senior level then you’re self-motivated and you probably love what you do anyway, so there shouldn’t be any room for complacency!”


6. How do you keep hold of your best people? Where does people’s motivation lie i.e., Money, career development/progression and company culture?


Darren: “Money gets you to a job, but I don’t think it retains you. I often think that the culture is much more important and ultimately this comes down to people as well. You might lose a key member of staff like a managing director and many of their team will follow them. People work for people, not for businesses! You need the right culture, processes, procedures and clear discipline in place, so people know where they stand.”


7. How do you assist with career development?


Darren: “By the time someone is at a high level, you would hope that they would have their own self-motivation. In terms of training, you’d hope that they would be able to tell you what training and development they need as it’s their career journey and their duty to do so. Again, we’re back to people and their individual abilities! Sometimes you can do all the training, but something still doesn’t work, whereas for other people, it just clicks easily.”

Andy: “If you want to be a five-star builder then you need to develop a culture to foster that. I think people like to be part of a successful team and people rate success in different ways, so you have to find people’s ‘sweet spot’. Challenging people when things don’t get done and creating a sense of ownership is important. If you lose your ability to be target-led, then there’s a problem.”


If you would like to delve deeper into the points raised in this episode, watch the webinar in full here. If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 and Part 2.


Here’s a summary of the three-part series:

  • A team must have goals and targets for success – Keep it simple!
  • A winning team has discipline and follows processes and protocols
  • Key traits of talent: self-determination, strives for excellence and has a purpose
  • Stick to regular structured meetings
  • People are the key and having empathy for them will create loyalty in return


We hope you found this series insightful! If you have any comments, questions or would like further insight please contact our Director, Gerard Ball: [email protected]  

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