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Archive for the ‘succession planning’ Category

Secrets of a successful talent review – part 2

Posted by Justin Field on January 14, 2010

In my last post, I wrote about performance calibration as being one of the secrets of success for talent reviews.  But performance isn’t the only dimension of top talent.  The other dimension we look at is potential.  Now with performance, it’s well understood by most managers and executives, and we can place some measures around performance, to make it easier to pick the appropriate performance rating for an employee.

With potential, it’s so much harder.  We often get asked, what is this thing called potential?  And what does it mean?  Potential for what?  So we’ve tried to invest more time in educating managers and executives about our definition of potential and what it means.

In the talent review, we quickly found that some managers really get the idea of potential and how it can be applied to their business.  They understand that they have to build and grow the next generation of leaders.  They understand that most of the time it’s better to build and grow internally; and that only some of the time it’s better to buy talent externally — and really great leaders have the ability to distinguish between these two situations.

On the other hand, some managers were less solid in their understanding of potential and how to apply it to their organisations.  A high performer is not necessarily top talent, unless they also have high potential.  We saw a few cases where the employee’s performance was being rewarded, rather than focusing on the high performance and high potential employees, who have the potential to go one level up or even two levels up.

Now we’re thinking about what to do.  We don’t think quotas of top talent are the right way to go:  the “right” number of top talent depends solely on the requirements of the business.  In growth economies you need a solid bench of front-line and middle managers, with a good portion that have potential to grow to higher levels and lead the business into the future.  In mature economies, you need less of the accelerated pool, but you still need enough top talent to sustain the business.

We are tossing around ideas about getting much more specific and detailed in our measurement of talent.  At present we use questionnaire that is applied equally to individual contributors, front-line managers, directors, vice presidents and above.  It gives us a really good first cut of the population, but we need to take it to the next level.  We call this next level “second filter.”

What might this second filter be?  What would be involved?  Well it comes down to two parts:  defining what is necessary for success at the next levels (I like to call this “plus one” and “plus two”); and then putting in place measurement instruments that uncover a high potential employee’s individual fit with the success definition.

Our ideas fall into a number of different initiatives.  Some areas of the business use assessment centres successfully.  Here a group of high potential employees is brought together for a day or two.  They are intensively tested and assessed.  The results are analysed and fed back to the employees, to help them craft their personal development plan.

We’ve also looked at detailed behavioural interviews (similar to that proposed by Bradford Smart in Topgrading.)  Here, we’d have two consultants interview high potential employees, to gather information about their personal capability and motivation, compared to the success model.  The interview process also involves detailed one-hour reference check interviews, with two or more referees, to get independent validation of the high potential employee’s skills, capability and potential to grow.  The output of the interview processed is viewed from an organisation level, but also fed back to the employee, with development recommendations, so they can craft their personal development plan.

Another option is to use psychometric instruments like Hogan HPI.  This tends to give some view of the employee’s true potential, but we need to match this information with the employee’s motivation to achieve and their motivation to gain power and influence, to get the full picture.

So really, an ideal approach would be a blend of these initiatives.  It would give us concrete reliable information that is predictive of success:  we would know that certain characteristics lead to promotions and sustained high performance over time.

If you have other ideas about potential and how to measure true potential, leave a comment for me.

Posted in leadership, performance, succession planning, talent review, top talent | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

We Shouldn’t Promote People Based on Merit

Posted by Alex Drexel on December 23, 2009

Researchers have recently done some modeling around various approaches to determining promotions – they have discovered that randomly promoting people v.s. those who perform well in their current jobs results in a more effective organization.  They say this is due to the Peter Principal, where people who add considerable value in the organization are promoted out of the jobs they excel at and into those they can’t handle – performance in their previous job wasn’t a good predictor for performance at the next level.

So I’m ready to put my employee number in a hat, how about you?

All kidding aside, I think this preferable state of randomness reveals an opportunity for software vendors – the challenge is to dig deeper into HRMS data so that true indicators for future performance can be established and surfaced when the time comes to decide who should move up.

You can check out the NYT article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/projects/magazine/ideas/2009/#r-2

Posted in Career Development, development, Job Fit, succession planning | 4 Comments »

Secrets of a successful talent review

Posted by Justin Field on December 22, 2009

Well, folks, we’ve just been through a talent review here.  You might think the process is fairly well understood and everything should just go smoothly, but of course, real life is not that smooth, and nor is a talent review.

One of the problems we faced was around the calibration of performance ratings.  Specifically, employees with a performance rating of 3 don’t get on the shortlist of top talent; those with 4 or 5, have a chance, but naturally we’re looking for high potentials among that population.

In the talent review, we discovered that some groups had been very strict with their performance ratings, and that other groups had been lenient.  For example, when sales quota was a key measurement of performance, some groups gave quota achievement of 100% a performance rating of 3; other groups gave quota achievement of 90% a performance rating of 4.  Result:  those cheap (easily won) 4′s distorted the shortlist of talent for that group; the hard won 4′s in other groups came closer to our true definition of top talent.

So what’s the secret of success?  I’ve always said that effective performance management is the true foundation of effective talent management.  You have to have a good grip on who the top performers are before you can start segmenting that group down to find the high potentials.  And in a large organisation, you’d better be sure that the measurement of performance is the same across groups, otherwise it destroys the credibility of the talent review.

My key learning for 2010 is two-fold:

  • We have to publish crystal-clear guidelines for groups regarding how to score performance based on key measurements.  We need a consistent approach across all groups.
  • After the majority of performance ratings are in the performance management system, we need a comprehensive calibration exercise, especially for those groups that will later do a talent review.  If we don’t make some effort to calibrate, the talent review itself becomes an exercise in performance calibration, when we really want the talent review to focus on high potential top talent.

Leave a comment with your views on calibrating performance and the impact on talent review.

Posted in performance, succession planning, talent review, top talent | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Succession Planning – better without the ion?

Posted by Meg Bear on November 18, 2008

9box

Those of us who follow the Talent Management investment curves, know that Performance Management and Succession Planning are the hot trends right now. Companies are attempting to leverage their workforce as a competitive advantage and both of these areas had technology innovations in recent years.

Of course, as is often the case with trends, there are companies that have a plan first and leverage technology to solve it, and there are companies who start with a solution and attempt to figure out the problem.

This leads to many wanting to call into question the whole idea. Laurie is absolutely right that succession planning has some challenges and she gives some ideas how to make it an effective use of your time (my paraphrase).

Personally, I think that the point of succession planning is really not for succession at all. Most often C-suite changes are made when a company needs to “fix” something. When this is the case, companies will most likely want to look outside the four walls for new ideas.

Succession planning is useful in the case of a long known retirement (Gates, Welch, etc.). Of course, planned retirement-based successions are often exceptions, especially in North America. In an attempt to avoid having people throw out the baby with the bathwater I would like to suggest that you still need succession planning for two key reasons

  • Developing bench strength – In my mind, here is where the real value can be had. If you look at your succession initiative as a broader discussion about bench strength and development alignment, you can get a lot bigger ROI for the exercise. Using a succession discussion to analyze several layers of your organization against readiness, can help you build development plans, define workforce planning initiatives and bring to light top talent within your organization.

So for those who wonder what all the hype is in succession planning, I encourage you to take a longer view of the process than just the tactical (or the competitive) approach. Use this emerging trend to help you to provide more value to the strategic needs of the company. Don’t just plan for succession, plan for success.

Posted in hr, succession planning | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Get rid of performance reviews?!?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008

Dr Sam Culbert writes in the Wall Street Journal that performance reviews destroy morale, kill teamwork and hurt the bottom line.  I take pity on Dr Culbert’s manager, who must be tearing his or her hair out with Dr Culbert’s obvious distaste for the performance review process.  And I wonder what it is like to work at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.  Are they practising all the bad habits that Dr Culbert’s shares in his article?

If only Dr Culbert’s arguments made sense.  He is clearly trapped in a performance review timewarp.  His version of performance review is medieval, with the manager (who he consistently calls “the boss”) standing in judgement of the hapless employee, who meekly accepts the manager’s opinion.  There are however kernels of truth in Dr Culbert’s analysis, so let’s take a look at the modern (non-medieval) way of performance evaluation:

1.  We believe in the concept and vision of daily performance managementDr Culbert does make reference to this when he says the once-a-year judgement of performance is a poor vehicle for giving and receiving feedback.  And he’s 100% correct.  Our concept of daily performance management is that the manager and the employee have a continuous, ongoing dialogue regarding the employee’s performance and how it can be adjusted to make the employee successful and to make the organisation successful.  To enable daily performance management, we believe our applications shouldn’t limit the user to a once-per-year interaction.  The system should be open and flexible and it should facilitate more frequent interactions.

2.  We believe in a future-facing performance management environment.  Dr Culbert seems to hate having his manager look back at past events and indiscretions and pointing out how bad he was.  Poor sausage.  Instead, think about a system based on performance objectives or goals, where the manager and the employee discuss those goals upfront, and then they collaborate on achieving them.  Dr Culbert would think he’d died and gone to heaven!  In fact, it comes very close to Dr Culbert’s idea of “performance previews,” looking at collaborating to support future performance, rather than looking back at historical events.

3.  We believe in open lines of communication between the manager and the employee.  The thing that struck me reading Dr Culbert’s article was how often the problems he perceived could be dealt with by open communication.  Now, it is true that it takes effort for a manager to build trust that would facilitate this level of communication, and the employee has to play their part too, but that is not to say that it is impossible. 

4.  We believe in customised and relevant content in the performance evaluation.  One of Dr Culbert’s gripes is that “bosses apply the same rating scale to people with different functions” and that managers “don’t redo the checklist for every different activity.”  Well, of course, that would be silly and unhelpful.  So our applications provide the ability to define precisely the content and measurements for each job, so that the manager and the employee have specific and relevant attributes that define success for each role.  And over and above that, the manager and the employee can define specific and personal objectives that apply only to that employee.  By supplying a library of skills, competencies and accomplishments, and by defining highly specific job profiles, our applications will help managers and employees to understand what the baseline expectations are.

Dr Culbert’s right about improvement:  “[it] is each individual’s own responsibility.”  So let’s have a performance management system that helps the individual clearly identify the opportunities.  And he’s right about trust too:  there needs to be a high level of trust between manager and employee.  So let’s have a performance management system that supports building of trust, rather than tearing it down.

Posted in Career Development, competency, engagement, goals, leadership, performance, personal, profiles, succession planning, teams, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Building Applications That Help Grow Strong Leaders

Posted by Ken Klaus on April 29, 2008

Last week I had the opportunity to attend The Business of Talent conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Kudos to the team at Bersin & Associates for putting together a great conference.) One theme consistently discussed throughout the conference was the need to make leadership development a core part of your talent management strategy. Leadership development goes beyond just training and is equal in importance to recruiting, succession planning and performance management. Most talent management solutions provide applications that help companies to recruit, train, measure, and compensate their workforce. But few have incorporated leadership development as a core business process within the talent management suite; which is interesting since leadership development is generally considered a mission critical part of most business strategies. So the question is how can our talent management solutions help us achieve this critical objective?

First I think it’s important to understand that no software application by itself will ever find the leaders in your organization, let alone develop them (unless of course you have access to Deep Thought or Professor Farnsworth). This is a task for your managers, directors, and senior executives. I also subscribe to the idea that leadership is not tied to a specific role in the company, like manager, vice president or CEO. I think every employee is a potential leader and in my opinion the hallmark of a truly great company is having more leaders than managers, or better yet, just leaders and no managers! With that said, there are some tools your talent management applications ought to provide to assist your organization in identifying and growing your leadership pipeline.

  • First is a configurable profile management application. Profiles tell us everything we need to know about the person and the position. They help us assess whether we have the right people in the right job. Person profiles should include things like risk of loss, impact of loss, personal, professional and developmental goals as well as the skills (competencies) the employee has today. Job profiles include the key competencies, certifications, licenses, education requirements, etc. needed to succeed in the position. A good talent management solution will help you match each employee with the right position.
  • Second are integrated performance, learning and compensation management applications. Having performance management without learning management is like constructing a house with a yardstick and no hammer; why measure if you can’t build. Likewise, having a learning management application without performance management means you can train your employees but can’t measure their growth or level of accomplishment. Compensation helps you recognize and reward good performance; without it you have a stick (performance management) but no carrot and good employees won’t hang around for very long under those conditions.
  • Finally, the talent management suite should include robust analytic tools that aggregate and integrate your data across applications. These tools should help you calibrate performance and potential across the organization; identify risk of loss candidates; craft talent pools and succession plans; and create customized development objectives tied to the key business drivers for your organization.

Most companies believe the best leaders are grown rather than recruited. Individuals who grow up in the organization have already embraced the company’s culture and core values. They understand the business, the market place and most importantly the customer. All they really need is experience and an opportunity to lead. Mark Sanborn writes in You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader, “It doesn’t matter what your position is, or how long you’ve worked at your job, whether you help to run your family, a PTA committee, or a Fortune 1000 company. Anyone at any level can learn to be a leader and help to shape or influence the world around them.” Our job as talent management specialists is to provide every employee with the opportunity to become the leaders who will help our organizations succeed and our companies thrive.

Posted in leadership, succession planning, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

 
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