Cal-ICMA Releases Talent Initiative Report

Study Focuses on Best Practices and Resources to Better Attract, Retain & Grow Talent

May 14, 2018 | ARTICLE

Cal-ICMA has just published its Talent Initiative Report which concludes that talent development has now become a key business imperative for local governments.

To develop recommendations for the Talent Initiative, Cal-ICMA undertook a year-long assessment effort, including:

  • A survey of 372 City/County Managers, HR Directors, and emerging leaders regarding talent development needs,
  • Eleven (11) focus groups with 272 senior management leaders across the state, and
  • Interviews with a number of thought leaders from the private and non-profit sectors.

Based on this research, the report identifies eight key findings:

  1. In the face of the baby-boomer “retirement wave,” local governments have not adequately built a talent pipeline.
  2. Local governments can no longer rely on “stealing” talent from other agencies.  More than ever, public agencies need to grow their own talent.
  3. Based on the meaning and purpose of our work, local government has a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent.  However, we in local government are not telling our story.
  4. Talent retention is largely about learning, challenge and engagement.  Employees who are learning and growing are more likely to stay with an organization.
  5. Talent development happens in the middle.  The problem is that mid-managers typically do not perceive developing talent and coaching direct reports as primary functions.
  6. Retooling organizational cultures to better attract and retain early-career talent will enhance our organizations for all employees and improve performance and productivity.
  7. Winning the war for talent is more about culture than money.
  8. The top development need for emerging leaders is “soft” leadership skills, including communication skills.

The report also showcases a number of best practices in the areas of attracting talent, retaining/developing talent and retooling organizational cultures.

To kick-off the Talent Initiative, Cal-ICMA has developed a resource page on its website. The Talent Initiative webpage includes:

To implement the recommendations from the focus groups, Cal-ICMA will develop an assessment tool and recognition program called “Best Places for Talent in Local Government.”  Additional implementation projects will include collaborations with other professional organizations in California.

According to Dominic Lazzaretto, City Manager of Arcadia, CA, and co-chair of the Talent Development Team, “As we deal with the big challenges, it is all about talent.  We believe that the Talent Initiative will help local governments overcome major workforce challenges so that we can better recruit, retain and develop those who serve California communities.”

For more information about the Cal-ICMA Talent Initiative, contact: