Innovation in tapping leadership talent
Just as people like to think they're well above average when it comes to IQ; the same applies when it comes to spotting and hiring top talent in organizations. Of course, hiring great people at any level will always remain a hit-or-miss affair, regardless of how much time or money is expended on the process. The risks are magnified in the case of senior and board-level appointments, as the downside of getting such critical hires wrong is much greater.
The prime challenges organizations face in the current scenario are finding, nurturing and retaining the right people with the right skills. There is a need for leaders who can think strategically, engage enthusiastically with all stakeholders, take ownership and accountability and have that 'something extra' that results in a significantly higher impact on organizational productivity, profitability and success. Unfortunately, such talents are in short supply. So how Tapping top talent was never easy. However, organizations are coming up with innovative ways to hire and retain leadership talent... does one spot talent? Just recently, we asked our managers to name two industry contacts who according to them are best in class. This resulted in more than 500 potential candidates in a stroke; who we presuppose are the right cultural fit too, as they are recommended by our own colleagues.
The pyramidal structure of most organizations with limited top jobs, result in a highly competitive environment, where employees from different functions or divisions compete for key positions. Managers are continually observing, assessing and comparing to see who will be the best choice when the time comes. Talent spotting is more of an art than science. Some leaders have a greater intuitive ability than others in recognizing the potential signs of an emergent star that can be fast tracked to make significant contributions within an organization.
Over the years, people have been subject either to the 'gut feel', personality and mood of their bosses in being assessed or subjected to grilling assessment instruments and processes by psychologists, and been reduced to a number on a piece of paper, which does not necessarily reflect the whole person or their performance. A more accurate assessment of potential can be attained using specific tools and techniques to refine the choice and minimize subjectivity, which is possible through an effective organization wide talent management strategy and processes.
Tools to identify talent
Three most practical and tested tools that high performance organizations worldwide use to identify talent are: Career management matrix Assessment of performance and potential can only be accurate if there are clear standards of performance and competence at each key leadership and technical level of the organization against which a person can be assessed and compared. From our experience, at Raychem RPG we have identified the following leadership organizational levels that require differentiated development and application: Each of these levels requires a significant change in skills, experiences, behaviors and mindsets for an individual to be successful. Simply put, these levels assist individuals to know where they are, where they are going, and what to do to get there. Once individuals are trained and developed in these new skills and attitudes and coached through transitions, the pain of change can be avoided.
A career management matrix also helps to assess an individual's readiness for transitioning to higher levels of responsibility. The accuracy of this assessment will depend on the degree to which input and feedback is obtained from a variety of possible assessors (individual, manager, peers, coach and other stakeholders the person may interact with).
Performance and potential matrix
Another widely used diagnostic tool to spot talent is the 9-box matrix, which categorizes people according to performance and potential. Organization and management reviewThis is one of the most effective tools for scouting talent.
The career management matrix and performance and potential matrix are not used in isolation or with the subjective view of only one manager, it is rather used as tools in a talent review process or OMR. The forum encourages constructive discussions and debates between peers at a similar level and results in a more objective view in assessing individuals and planning for their career development. Each manager presents their recommendations of their direct reports and gains inputs, feedback and challenges until consensus is reached on both positions on the matrices, their readiness and on actions required for optimizing potential, performance and retention of key talent. In preparation, each individual to be discussed at the forum is given an opportunity to complete a candidate profile of career history and aspirations and to discuss performance and potential with their manager and provide further evidence where required. Talent forums are held at different levels of the business ensuring talent pools, and critical staffing issues are identified at each level and communicated upward ultimately to an executive talent forum.
Once people have been placed according to performance andpotential, the number of high flyers, key talent and underperformers at a level, in a department or in the organization as a whole can be ascertained. We have found that a typical distribution of talent is 20 per cent high flyers, 65 per cent key players, and approximately 15 per cent of underperformers. This facilitates differentiated development and actions for different groups of talent. Typically, high flyers can be fast tracked to fill mission critical positions, key players can be stretched and tested for higher performance and impact, and retained for their specialist and scarce skills. Succession planning should be a direct function of deploying the right people now and in future for these positions. Mission critical positions are those positions which occur throughout levels in an organization and not just at senior levels. These are critical to the ongoing operations of the business, the absence of which would lead to the major productivity or profit losses of the company or customer, both in the short-term and long term. Scarce skills are those skills that are critical to the ongoing operations of the business without which would lead to the major productivity or profit loss of the company or customers.
A key component of spotting talent is to create opportunities for people as early as possible, to display and develop their talent, either at their current level or at the next leadership or technical level. Some talent could be hidden or overlooked within layers and structures, and never get the right exposure to the decision makers. Talent forums- OMR play a major role in discovering lower-level talent (treasure) when cascaded through the structures of the organization, and taking calculated risks in assigning new challenges.
Who takes the call?
Despite these well-structured andthought out moves toward spottingleadership talent which has createda focused approach to the hiringprocess; there is still an individual's point of view at the time of hiring.
Trust your own experience. Do not just look for a junior copy of yourself. Keep your eyes open for strengths that you have always admired but never enjoyed.
When interviewing, delve and don't glide. Most interviews glide from topic to topic too quickly and become good-natured hunts for social affinity. As Tom Friel, recently retired Chairman of Heidrick & Struggles says: "You don't learn much from the first question on any topic. You may not even learn very much from the second question." Only by locking onto a subject and asking progressively more detailed questions does a clear sense of a candidate's character and track record emerge. It's the third question, by Friel's tally, that is most likely to start yielding unscripted insights.
Many organizations cannot hire top university graduates by the hundreds, the way the big corporatescan. It is therefore necessary to look on the fringes, to find the not-soobviousprospects that others overlook.
The SMT culture at Raychem RPG is responsible for employees managing their work on a day-today basis with minimal supervision. Hence, it's also called supervisionless system. Students between the age group of 18 and 21 years are hired from rural areas of India, through psycho-diagnostic and aptitude tests and group tasks, followed by personal interviews. Employees get a chance to learn engineering and earn a diploma/degree from premium institutes. SMT has not been so widely implemented in the industry possibly due to the rigor and constant mentoring and coaching needed besides an organization wide culture shift.
This initiative resulted in a highcaliber workforce; dedicated and well-knit team members on the shop floor; visibly higher productivity and lesser customer complaints among others. We are quite optimistic that these highly engaged workforces will certainly throw a good surprising numbers of leaders in years to come!
A purposeful lookout
Business leaders can learn a lot from the talent scouts of the sporting world that find exceptional young talent, and puts them on the field to perform under tough competitive conditions. How can you or your organization find creative ways to unleash and grow talent and potential at all levels? Talent spotting, though an art, however, is boosted by the scientific precision of effective tools and processes to engage with employees, create opportunities for performance and potential, and ultimately find the right person for the right job at the right time.
Republished with permission. Copyright 2012 www.humancapitalonline.com. All rights reserved.