I Didn’t See It Coming

With all the storm coverage in the past few days, I don’t think there is anyone who can say they didn’t see it  coming. However, in our work lives, we are sometimes blindsided. When I was working with a client several years ago, their successor for a key job in Asia left for an opportunity to run a start up in California. The reaction of the CEO and Asian leader at the time was ‘we never saw it coming’.

Some people don’t want to have a plan B because they think it makes it too easy to not fully pursue plan A. As you go into your next planning cycle, include scenario planning around some key initiatives. Take the time to run through potential opportunities or issues that may arise. You may identify an even better plan than the one you had in mind, one that allows you to take advantage of an opportunity you didn’t think about before. Or you may be able to mitigate a threat should it actually arise.

The Clash asked us back in the 80’s Should I Stay or Should I Go?

 

Next!

succession rolesSeveral of you are thinking about succession for roles that will be vacant in a few years because of retirement — whatever that looks like these days. Just like so many other things boomers are redefining that, too. That’s another topic for another day.

The fact on the ground today is that there are targeted senior positions within organizations that are being impacted by the impending wave of retirement. And, those retirements are happening in organizations undergoing significant change. I saw it a couple of years ago in a client company where I was doing an organization design and workforce/succession planning engagement. One of the top 5 people in the company was planning on retirement in the next few years. He had grown with the company from it’s very early days some 25+ years ago and was an executive leader for most of that time. Identifying his successor wasn’t just about who could fill the job. There were two other key factors. The first impacted identifying the successor. The business was undergoing a significant shift in business strategy and the executive’s role and organization were going to be significantly different in the future. The second had to do with development. How do you transfer key knowledge without stifling the need for next generation thinking? How could the successor break through quickly on the executive team and as leader of the new organization? Here are 3 key steps anyone in this situation should take.

  • Define the future.  Don’t just fill the present. Too often succession planning uses a snapshot of the role today to identify its incumbent of tomorrow. Just as the business strategy drives budgeting and company financials, it should also drive the identification of successors.
  • Make change leadership a key assessment point for successors.  If a successor will be taking on the new role during significant change, make it a priority to assess his/her change and influence capabilities and if they’re lacking, build them. Sounds obvious.  Often overlooked.
  • Establish relationships as part of the development plan. The executive team will all be familiar with the successor but that won’t necessarily prevent real obstacles when he or she joins them and comes to the table with a different way of thinking.  Building those relationships prior to succession will help him or her develop strong partners among the executive team and allow the successor to begin to position him/herself as an equal

Create a Sustainable Leadership Pipeline: 7 Core Principles

Leadership Sustainability

Leadership Sustainability

Sustainability is a word that is heard often these days, usually in regards to the environment or development or cultures. As leaders, part of our mission is to create sustainability within our organizations. The talent of our future leaders is critical to our future success. The question is, “how do I create a sustainable pipeline of leaders and manage talent in an ever-changing business and economic environment?”

The business case for top-tier leadership quality is solid. A Corporate Leadership Council 2003 Succession Management Survey showed that top tier leadership organizations are much more likely to outperform their peers in the marketplace, which translates into substantial financial gains. Market capitalization relative to peers was $384 million higher for top-tier leadership organizations compared with a $232 million lower for bottom-tier leadership organizations.

Creating a sustainable pipeline of top-tier leadership needs an integrated, systemic approach to talent management. Current leaders in the organization need to be accountable for creating a talent management culture. Keeping your eye on the talent will allow you to survive, and even thrive, during times of change and come out stronger on the other side.

To create sustainable leadership pipelines, seven core principles make the difference.

The 7 Core Principles

Core Principle #1: Recognize talent management is a core business process with impact on overall business and financial success for the enterprise. Actively engage leadership throughout the organization on an ongoing basis to assure a nimble, functioning and robust process is in place. Create accountabilities for leaders, just as they are for the financial and operational success of the organization.

Core Principle #2: It starts with the business strategy and talent pipelines are developed to support the strategy. Base the pipelines on where the business is currently and also prepare for future scenarios. As Marshall Goldsmith said, “what got you here, won’t get you there.” Leadership needs will vary based on the strategic needs of the organization. The necessary leadership qualities, the identification, development and review of key talent should be linked to the strategy to assure the bench strength meets the organization needs.

Identify linchpin roles to assure you are developing leadership talent for those roles that have significant impact on the organization’s ability to achieve short and long-term results. Look at the drivers of you business – is it sales? Research and development? Manufacturing? How are you creating a sustained talent pipeline in those parts of the business?

Core Principle #3: Measure it and know if it’s making a difference. Sustainability is created by knowing what will create success now and in the future and focusing resources on those areas. Put measures in place to reflect the goals of talent management and the effectiveness of leadership development. As was stated in principle #1, make it a key accountability for the executive team.

Core Principle #4: Identify, develop and talk about leadership talent throughout the organization. The leadership talent conversation should be ongoing among your senior leadership teams. Until they take root in the culture, overt processes should be put in place to cause these conversations to occur. These topics need to be agenda items or the topics of meetings in their entirety.

Create communication mechanisms to ensure a resilient information-sharing process. Intranet- based tools with the ability to allow varying levels of access to critical information are vital. They allow for the dynamic management of the information.

Core Principle #5: The process clearly differentiates leadership talent. All high performers are not high potential. However, high potentials are high performers. Sustainable talent management systems identify the difference.

High potential performers have the capability to continue to take on larger, more complex levels of responsibility and often do it quickly. High potential employees are often voracious learners. They take on new tasks and are able to master them quickly. What they most often need is the ability to gain wisdom; the ability to integrate what they have learned and to apply it in varied settings.

Core Principle #6: Address gaps between strategic needs and current leadership capabilities through focused internal development or recruitment of external resources. In sustainable talent management processes, development comes from a variety of sources – coaching, programs, experiences, new assignments within the organization, mentoring, etc. With the application of each type of development there is clarity about what the individual is supposed to be developing from each experience or assignment. Measure the progress. Frequent conversations about the development experience provide feedback to the organization about the potential leadership talent and to the individual.

To drive integration of talent management into the culture, integrate it with critical processes like selection, performance management, rewards and compensation. At the individual level, let people know where they stand (e.g., A, B, C talent) and the implications. These components can be facilitated through Human Resources, Leadership Development, or consultants. They need to be owned by the executive team and leaders/managers across the organization.

Core Principle #7: Talent and the needs for talent are re-evaluated regularly. Your business changes. So does the talent. Sustainable systems identify and proactively address the dynamics of change and the impact on talent needs.

What’s Critical for You?

Institute for Corporate Productivity

The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) released the results of its 2014 Critical Human Capital Issues Survey . The survey shows that creating change-ready organizations is still the top priority for high-performing companies. One of the key takeaways from the study is that most companies simply do not have the internal bench strength to enable sustained high-market performance.

Working with companies that are tackling rapid growth and change, this rings true for me. When I work with clients and we are identifying bench strength for key roles, we often see that the bench strength for those roles is limited. Our challenge then is to proactively begin to develop talent and identify talent sourcing strategies to fill the gaps.

If you see this in your company, you’re not alone. Here are the survey’s top 10 human capital issues for 2014 for high-performance organizations:

1. Succession planning
2. Leadership development
3. Knowledge retention
4. Coaching
5. Managing/coping with change
6. Non-executive succession planning
7. Measuring/rewarding behavior
8. Talent shortages in critical areas
9. Measuring/rewarding results
10. Internal communication

  
  

About Edith Onderick-Harvey
Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent,  Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

The Leadership Multiplier Effect

A third of all CEO’s surveyed by The Conference Board say the most pressing issue they have is attracting, developing and retaining the right talent. Two of the biggest factors in engagement and retention are trust in senior leadership and the relationship people have with their managers. With 75% of employees in a recent Gallup

Organization survey reporting that they are unengaged or actively disengaged at work, leadership is not successfully addressing this issue.

Leadership excellence has a multiplier effect on organizations. Investing in developing leaders, increasing the leadership multiplier effect, is a short-term and long-term strategy that allows your organization to adapt and thrive in various economic circumstances by attracting, retaining and engaging your human capital.

What is the leadership multiplier effect?

 Resources spent on leadership development have a cascading effect throughout the organization. The effective leader creates exponential value for the organization through his or her influence on the strategy, people and processes in the organization. One leader’s effective decisions and actions has a ripple effect that can impact dozens or hundreds of employees, positively changing business performance for the entire department or business unit. Likewise, the impact of poor leadership decisions and actions can lead to the decreased ability to attract, develop and retain the right talent.

In addition, effective senior leaders model behaviors and skills for other leaders in the organization. They set the tone for the leadership practices that define the organization and its culture. They demonstrate the business skills that address business issues and create innovation. They define and operationalize high performance through their interactions with each other and the entire organization.

As others mature in their leadership roles, their effectiveness is increased for having been effectively developed and for the role-models presented by senior leadership. A cascade is created. With more effective leadership focused on the right things at all levels in the organization, factors impacting business performance improve. Groups led by effective leaders are more engaged resulting in higher productivity rates, increased willingness to give extra effort, and greater acceptance of change. In other words, effective leadership creates an environment that attracts and retains high quality talent.

Ensuring the effectiveness of your leaders is critical whether your business is expanding or contracting. When your business is expanding, bringing on new people, introducing new products, serving new customers, leaders need to integrate and assimilate the growth. They need to plan strategically for growth, effectively develop their teams, establish business practices and maintain the engagement people feel in those initial few months on the job.

When business is contracting, leaders need to manage the change brought on by staff reductions, reduced revenue streams and increased cost constraints. They need to maintain the remaining staff’s focus and morale. Need to maintain customer service levels, identify how to do more with less.

Optimizing the Leadership Multiplier Effect

 For the leadership multiplier effect have its maximum impact, leaders must be developed effectively. Effective development includes:

1.  Identifying the core of effective leadership. What makes leaders effective? One way to start thinking about leadership effectiveness is to identify what results you want the leader to achieve and use this to identify behaviors that are effective in achieving those results.

2.   Communicating what is expected of a leader. This communication is not always in words. It’s important to understand that how you select, how you assign resources, what people are held accountable for and how you recognize and reward say a great deal about your expectations of leaders.

3.   Assessing your leaders against your model of effectiveness. If some are less effective than you need, identify a strategy for addressing it. It may be development, assignment changes, or an exit strategy. No matter what strategy seems most appropriate, it should start with a frank conversation with the leader.

4.   Identifying potential leaders within your organization and outside your organization. Do you have the bench strength you need? Also remember thatleaders aren’t just those with formal titles but also those in roles that are pivotal to business success.

5.   Developing leadership effectively. Formal learning experiences, business-driven assignments and projects, coaching, mentoring and other leadership development experiences need to align with the business strategy and the expectations you’ve communicated about leadership within your organization. Utilize a suite of development activities that build leaders throughout their careers. Developing leaders is process not an event. You must take a planful approach to leadership development, not one that only addresses obvious flash points that may be ignoring underlying causes.

By taking advantage of the Leadership Multiplier Effect, you will optimize talent and create competitive advantage.