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Is the Australian cricket team a lesson in poor talent management?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008

Well, the Australians have just lost the second test against India at Mohali, losing by 320 runs. I’ve been reading the coverage in print and online and it struck me that there were a few home truths in the Australian team’s performance and behaviour.

Monday’s disgraceful spat between Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee is a lesson in how not to manage poor or declining performance in your team. Brett clearly wanted to bowl and thought he could do it, although Ricky thought otherwise, and handed the ball to another bowler. There followed an argument and heated words.
Lesson for managers: Don’t discipline underperforming team members in public. It causes hurt and consternation all round. Remember to clearly explain your expectations for high performance and help (rather than insult) those that once had great performance but are now struggling.

Some commentators have been lamenting the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.  The reasoning goes that they were senior players who brought great skill and great cohesion to the team, and assisted Ricky in building team spirit and discipline.  But now, they are gone.  And the Australians are looking like a second rate team, with good, but not great, younger players joining the test team.  To me it seems quite short-sighted that the Australian cricket fraternity has not been grooming junior players to have the quality and the attitude that is required at international test level.
Lesson for managers:  Don’t think succession planning is someone’s else’s business.  It is your business and it is your business now.  With financial conditions changing on a daily basis, with the economy in turmoil and with talented employees always looking out for their next career move, you cannot afford to be caught dozing when your key talent retires or moves on to other opportunities.  So do what you need to do to identify your key talent, work out succession plans, and start talking to peers and executives about creating the right conditions to retain and grow your talent.

Posted in management, personal, teams | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by Justin Field on October 14, 2008

TalentedApps is joining Blog Action Day 08, to blog with other leading blogs about poverty.

We support initiatives to end poverty around the world.  There’s so much that can be done, and it doesn’t have to grand, or hard, or take millions of dollars (we don’t command the resources of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett after all).

How about financing a micro-loan with kiva.org and making your own contribution to fixing the credit crisis?  Kiva arranges micro-loans for entrepreneurs in less developed countries, and a contribution of just $25 could help someone start a small business and change lives, for themselves and their families.
Blog Action Day 08

Posted in leadership | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Eight things

Posted by Justin Field on August 8, 2008

Eight things you did not know about me:

  1. I was Kelly Girl of the Month for May 1996 in the City of London.  I was a great secretary/executive assistant with Kelly Services’ Fenchurch Street branch, with typing speeds in excess of 90 wpm.  The keyboard was smoking after I finished my typing test.  I scooped the award by turning around a very difficult client who was about to terminate Kelly’s contract and go with someone else.  The job was to type 100 letters per day to insurance claimants, for a travel insurance company. 
  2. My alter ego is Miss Tina Fanning.  She has great legs, a wicked sense of fun, and the perfect flawless makeup.  She has a $5000 wardrobe of hand-beaded dresses, wigs, heels, showgirl headdresses, tiaras and diamanté costume jewellery.  She has her own Facebook profile, email address and instant messaging nicknames.  She has appeared on television and has friends and admirers around the world.
  3. I’ve lived and worked on five continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.  I didn’t really plan it:  it just kinda happened.  I worked a little in South Africa and then headed to London, as many young Commonwealth citizens do.  And from there I went to Sydney, and then a stint in Hong Kong, then Sydney, and then a few years in San Francisco, then back to Sydney. 
  4. I’ve visited 24 countries in my lifetime.  I suppose I should have a favourite but I can’t choose one place over all others.  I liked different places for different reasons.  But I suppose that for a holiday I have historically shown a preference for a place that has clear blue water, heat, humidity, palm trees, cocktails with those little tiny paper umbrellas in them and hammocks.  Fiji, come back to me.
  5. I was born in South Africa but I don’t have the typical South African accent.  Depending on the country that I’m in, people will guess that I come from Australia, New Zealand, Britain or South Africa.  I grew up in the deep dark days of apartheid.  I went to whites-only primary school and high school; I lived in whites-only suburbs.  I remember segregated beaches, parks, park benches, public toilets, buses, trains, liquor stores and cinemas.  When I was a kid it was just the way it was and I didn’t know any better.  I remember, like it was yesterday, the opening of Parliament on Friday 2 February 1990, when the State President, FW de Klerk, announced that the ANC was unbanned and that Nelson Mandela was being released from prison.  I remember, like it was yesterday, the hot dusty Sunday afternoon of 11 February 1990 when Nelson Mandela, after an agonising wait, walked slowly through the gates of Victor Verster Prison, to his freedom.  I remember, like it was yesterday, 27 April 1994, when the first democratic election was held, and we queued in the cold pale autumn morning to cast our votes.  I remember, like it was yesterday, 10 May 1994, when Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first president of a democratic South Africa.  I remember his speech, when he said, “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another,” and I remember my emotion and my tears in that moment.   I am so glad that I was able to have that experience and I wouldn’t replace it for the world.
  6. I have two degrees in, wait for it, Microbiology, Biochemistry and Chemistry.  My bachelor’s degree was a triple major in the three subjects, and my Honours degree was in Microbiology.  For my Honours research project I had to drive to the sewage farm every morning, take a fresh sample of the aerobic pond, race back to the laboratory, liquidise it and analyse the bacterial population.  Just so you know, fresh sewage from the aerobic pond does not smell like pooh — it has more of the aroma of freshly cut grass.  All the oxygen in the aerobic pond leads to a high rate of bacterial metabolism and the byproducts don’t have a bad odour.  But leave it standing for a day or two and then it will totally smell like you expect it to smell. 
  7. I have never owned a car.  This statement always makes Americans recoil in horror, as most cannot contemplate a life without a vehicle.  But I’ve always lived in cities with good public transport so I’ve never felt the urge to own a car.  I do have driver licences from three countries:  South Africa, Australia (New South Wales) and the United States (California).  Just for fun last year I bought a scooter and got my motorcycle licence in New South Wales.
  8. I have never been to hospital as an in-patient (despite the face that my sister-in-law is an Accident & Emergency specialist).  Somehow I have managed to avoid serious injuries to my person and haven’t had any major surgery. 

Posted in personal | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

How to calculate risk of loss

Posted by Justin Field on May 27, 2008

How to calculate risk of loss

Last month I wrote about the job satisfaction model for employee retention. Now I have used the model to develop a model that allows you to calculate the probability of losing an employee, based on their personal retention and turnover factors.

In my mind the risk of loss is really the probability of the loss event occurring, i.e. a decimal number between 0 and 1. So the model really is an exercise in statistics, to work out what that overall probability is. For each of the factors in the job satisfaction model, we can use the data stored in any good HRMS system to give us more information.

Poor Pay — Leads To Dissatisfaction
We could compare the employee’s rate of pay with the market rate (using their compa-ratio). A low compa-ration means they are paid under the market rate; a high compa-ratio means they are paid higher than the market rate. Therefore if the employee’s compa-ratio is 1, this would be a factor for a neutral stance.
Also, since most compensation models allow for increase of pay over time, we could look at both compa-ratio and length of time in job code. Low compa-ratio combined with long service in job code would imply dissatisfaction; low compa-ratio/short service in job code implies neutral; high compa-ratio/long service in job code implies neutral (but also implies that the worker should be ready for promotion too, and if they’re missing out on promotion then they’ll be dissatisfied — see the paragraph below); high compa-ratio/short service in job code implies neutral.

Poor Compensation — Leads To Dissatisfaction
We could look at the average bonus versus the employee’s bonus. If they are under the average then they could be dissatisfied; if they are over the average then they would be expected to be neutral.

Lack Of Promotions — Leads To Dissatisfaction
We could look at the time since last promotion. Long time period implies dissatisfaction; short time period implies neutral.

Lack Of Job Security — Leads To Dissatisfaction
We could look at the number of voluntary terminations and involuntary terminations for the employee’s job code or job family, for the last 12 months. High number of terminations implies dissatisfaction; low number of terminations implies neutral. Higher proportions of voluntary terminations imply that current/recent employees are choosing to leave the organisation, so could imply job insecurity and hence dissatisfaction; higher proportions of involuntary terminations imply that the organisation is downsizing, so could again imply job insecurity and hence dissatisfaction.

Good Leadership Practices — Increase Satisfaction
We could use the employee’s rating of manager performance in 360 reviews. Scores in the top quartile or above a certain threshold indicate satisfaction; scores in lower quartiles or below a certain threshold indicate neutral.
This could also be used to assess the manager relationship (though it’s imprecise).

Recognition — Increase Satisfaction
We could use the data around awards given to the employee to capture if the employee has received awards/recognition in the last 12 months. If yes, indicates satisfaction; if no, indicates neutral.

Feedback And Support — Increase Satisfaction
We could use the existence of completed performance reviews to measure this one. If yes, indicates satisfaction; if no, indicates neutral.
Also we could measure the difference between the employee rating and the manager rating within the performance document. If they are the same, this implies neutral. If employee is higher than manager, implies dissatisfaction or neutral. If employee is lower than manager, implies neutral or satisfaction.

Clear Direction and Objectives — Increase Satisfaction
We could use the existence of worker goals, or goal plans, and/or existence of individual development plan. If they exist, implies satisfaction; if they do not exist, implies neutral.

The metric for each factor can be weighted, since some factors will naturally be considered more important than others, depending on the organisation and their business goals.

Risk of Loss
The risk of loss will therefore be the weighted average of all the factors that influence loss of an employee.

Using this model should help HR departments and line managers gain a better understanding of the multitude of factors that influence an employee’s decision to leave. With the risk of loss to hand, line managers can act decisively to intervene in an employee’s decision to leave and be pro-active in making changes that will retain highly-valued employees.

Posted in engagement, performance | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Job Satisfaction Model for retention

Posted by Justin Field on April 11, 2008

I’ve been studying turnover and retention recently and it led me to wonder about the real reasons for turnover.  Everybody understands that some turnover is functional (or beneficial to the organisation) and some turnover is dysfunctional (bad for the organisation).  And we all understand that some turnover is necessary, otherwise organisations would stagnate. 

So, the fundamental reason that employees leave organisations is that they are not satisfied.  Their dissatisfaction could occur on many levels.  Much published research on turnover indicates that money is often NOT the most important reason.  Employees leave for other reasons such as career growth and development, or a change in life circumstances, or factors like that.

It’s handy to think of the reasons for dissatisfaction in terms of push factors (things that make employees more dissatisfied) and pull factors (things that make employees more satisfied).  Here’s a diagram.

Job Satisfaction Model for Employee Retention

The factors that are going to make some MORE dissatisfied are things like:

  • poor pay
  • poor compensation
  • poor work conditions
  • lack of promotions
  • poor benefits offering
  • lack of job security

Curiously enough, if you were to fix all these factors, you’d still not get a satisfied employee.  If you fixed everything above, you’d have an employee sitting somewhere in the middle of the satisfaction scale, so they would be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

The factors that make an employee MORE satisfied are things like:

  • good leadership in the organisation
  • good relationship with their manager
  • recognition for their achievements (not necessarily monetary recognition)
  • advancement in their careers
  • personal growth and development
  • feedback and support (meaningful feedback, not just naked criticism)
  • clear direction and objectives

So there is a lot that can be done on the positive side to increase satisfaction.  Naturally, there are of course many opportunities on this side of the house where a good talent management solution can helps things along.

Posted in engagement | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »