Strategies to develop your top talent

A lot or a little?

I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.” coach John Wooden

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Bringing it Home

Talent management is a great field to work in.  You get to work with clients to solve real-world problems that greatly impact the lives of people in organizations.  It’s no fun to be in a job that sucks.  It can be painful to find yourself in a company culture that cuts right across your own personal values, even if other parts of the job are positive.  To be a leader who sees the organization losing good people consistently is frustrating, especially if you don’t know why.  These are just some aspects of the job that I find really engaging.

People often asked me why I went to China.  Read the rest of this entry »

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We have looked before at best practices in developing top talent.

Sometimes, we need to also admit and learn from the mistakes that have cost us the most (and in many cases are still costing us).

In their HBR article, Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt give us more to ponder about these six mistakes.

Mistake 1: Assuming That High Potentials Are Highly Engaged

Let’s begin by talking truth about your bright stars.  

Why is the picture so negative?  Rising stars are young, talented and usually know it.  Their gigantic personal expectations are matched with lots of alternatives. Read the rest of this entry »
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Keep Your Top Talent

Leadership development programs aimed at rising stars have become a staple of most large organizations.  Here in Shanghai I see this in the people practices of global multinational companies, whether American, European, or Asian.

Most people acknowledge that the top talent is where you can have a great impact on business results, either in a positive or negative way depending on how you manage it.

An article in Harvard Business Review by Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt shed some interesting light on the topic.
What I have found surprising in my own experience is that despite the effort, money and time being spent, the results are often lackluster, at least initially.  Maybe our expectations timeline is too short.

Here are some ideas about what works and what doesn’t in developing your top talent.  This came from research in more than 100 organizations worldwide over 2005-2011, which clearly has been tumultuous time in the global economy.

10 Critical Components of a Talent-Development Program

1. Explicitly test candidates in three dimensions: ability, engagement, and aspiration.

2. Emphasize future competencies needed (derived from corporate-level growth plans) more heavily than current performance when you’re choosing employees for development.

3. Manage the quantity and quality of high potentials at the corporate level, as a portfolio of scarce growth assets. Read the rest of this entry »

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Talent or hard work?

Talent is cheaper than table salt.  What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” - Stephen King

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I was speaking at the ChinaSourcing Summit in Hangzhou, China, last week and got the chance to share some research and ideas with other industry leaders about how to upgrade the quality of management conversations with employees in a service and data-intensive industry.

ChinaSourcing Summit Hangzhou

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Failing Forward

“‘Failing forward’ is the ability to get back up after you’ve been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction.” John Maxwell

When you develop talent, you need to be ready for failure.  It is just crazy to expect people will learn something well the first time.  Of course, you shouldn’t put people in a position to fail especially if the stakes are high, either for them personally or for the organization.  But failure is a necessary part of learning and leadership formation.

Talented individuals also need the right mindset.  Sometimes if they have not met much adversity the first experiences of failure can be hard to face.  That’s when “failing forward” needs to be learned.

This is not the same as the Peter Principle, which basically says people get promoted to the highest level that their incompetency can handle.  It assumes a static case or stalled development while promotions continue.   Failing forward is not about career promotion and covering up incompetency.  It’s an attitude of learning to recover, to demonstrate both resiliency and course correction.  There is no real “failing forward” without positive change involved.

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Speaking the same language

Managers continue to miss the sometimes subtle but often-times obvious ways that they are failing to communicate with the employees they manage.

This came home to me in a fresh way back in April when I was training a group of about 50 managers with China Telecom.  They were gathered from across different cities in China and they were at different levels in the organization, some front-line supervisors of employees and some of them director-level managers of other managers.

China Telecom Read the rest of this entry »

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Three dimensional leadership

When people describe leadership they often use contrasting concepts:  either command and control, or servant leaders.  Others contrast hard-edge management by the numbers with a softer and emotionally intelligent “coach.”  Even personal styles are seen as either loud, direct and aggressive, or quiet, indirect and reflective.  When leaders reflect on their own expressions of leadership, I’ve noticed they also tend to self-define in contrasting terms.

When we frame leadership in these either/or bipolar contrasts, we tend to get more of the same:  two dimensional leadership.  It’s either black or white, hard or soft, aggressive or reflective.

It’s time we embrace three dimensional leadership.  We value leaders primarily for their 1) good judgment,  2) decisions and 3) their ability to craft and communicate a compelling vision that others want to follow.  Since these are all part of the domain of value, I turn to the foremost expert in valuation and value analysis for some guidance. Read the rest of this entry »

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Recruit and develop talent

A recent article put out by Gallup had some interesting things to say about how talent–and the way companies manage it–separates top performing companies from the rest.

Here’s the bottom line about companies that lead in growth: they have a relentless focus on talent. It is intentional and the executives who lead these companies have created systems that nurture it.

Here are the five elements singled out as success components.

1. A succession plan that works

2. An audit of your talent pool

3. Raising the bar in recruiting and hiring

4. Breakthrough experiences for high-potential managers and leaders

5. Ongoing development, engagement, and performance management

The Gallup research behind these findings is pretty compelling.  If you want to read more, go here.

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