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Designing a tailored programme for high potentials at Sun Life

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In an age when a competitive remuneration programme is no longer a guarantee of talent attraction and retention, companies are taking extra steps towards fulfilling top talents’ intrinsic demands for personal and career growth.

Aligning with its human resources philosophy – nurturing a high performance culture to support its “Client for Life” business strategy – Sun Life in Hong Kong developed a high potential (HIPO) oriented programme, namely We Shine.

The insurance and asset management provider was awarded silver for Excellence in Talent Management at HR Distinction Awards Hong Kong 2019.

An all-round talent identification process
The annual We Shine programme begins with a comprehensive talent identification process during the first quarter of each year. To achieve a robust discussion, each supervisor’s nomination of his or her subordinate goes through a calibration process under which all key stakeholders across different levels of the company will debate and discuss whether the nominee is truly a talent at Sun Life.

“The calibration process, regardless of its inevitable time-consuming nature, is a combination of art and science. Art refers to the qualitative feedback from a big group of senior stakeholders, while science applies to an analysis of performance reviews and mid-year dialogues,” says Viola Chan, head of total rewards and communication at Sun Life Hong Kong.

Tailored approach
Sun Life underscores the We Shine success in its tailored approach and solutions. Following the identification and calibration process, a one-on-one career dialogue between the high-performing employee and his or her senior leader will be held to map out a talent’s aspirations at Sun Life.

The senior leaders are equipped with relevant knowledge from a guidebook prepared by the human resources department.

“The individual dialogues are particularly important. From there, we summarise common themes across top-tier talent, and come up with ways to address all their concerns and accelerate their career development during the programme,” Chan says.

“We Shine is not a generic, one-size-fits-all development programme. All the solutions are tailored to each individual’s needs.”

Blended learning
A 70:20:10 blended learning methodology is deployed for the We Shine programme – 70% is derived from on-the-job training and job rotations; 20% from executive coaches and internal mentors; and 10% comes from face-to-face training workshops such as classes from renowned global business schools or talks from reputable regional or global leaders.

When it comes to training, Sun Life is keen on adopting an innovative approach that takes talent out of their comfort zone and gives them the first taste of the challenges inherent in the positions of senior leadership.

One of the very well-received practices from last year was a business project called “Experience the Sun”, where We Shine talent from different departments were brought together to design a client-based app in three months.

We enhanced our We Shine Program and Digital Leadership Boot Camp to help facilitate our talent to navigate the innovation journey. Our talent is equipped to start cultivating the agile culture, be more customer-centric, connected and collaborative to generate space for innovation in each of their teams and for the company.

“Not only did they have a chance to work on a real-life heated project from scratch, they also learned how to interact with talent with different strengths. This was much more challenging compared to their day tasks,” Chan says.

“Our We Shine programme might not be the most expensive out there, but it is a programme that caters to each individual. Our top management and team leads are synchronised with the mission of providing the best opportunity for all our talent and inviting talent to share their career journey with Sun Life.”

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Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
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