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Strategies to develop your top talent

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

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.  (more…)

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At the ChinaSourcing Business Conference (Guangzhou, China) this week I shared some ideas about effective performance management.

There is tremendous potential for improvement in how companies handle talent management. A new generation of scientific tools and processes are available to make the job manageable. We discussed a few of these tools and best practices, from recruiting to talent development, in companies that are effectively rising to the challenge. (more…)

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Talent Shortage

I shared some insights about the talent shortage in China and Asia Pacific at an executive briefing yesterday at the Four Seasons Hotel-Shanghai.

Big picture economics are of course part of the picture.  The labor market is also facing challenges.  The cost of labor and talent is getting inflated and competition is increasing.

Typical responses include using money to retain talent (comp and benefits), providing additional training and development, expanding campus recruiting and even getting experimental with non-traditional approaches.

When it comes to motivation and engagement, companies tend to over-rely on financial incentives and assume it is the most compelling motivator for talent.  Our own research with over 2000 managers in China shows that fewer than 1/3 list money, compensation or benefits as their top motivator.  There is a mismatch here.

What are effective companies doing?  Smart recruiting, culture transformation, and targeted skill development for their talented workers.

The roundtable discussions with executives after the presentation added more context to the big picture, and it demonstrated that many organizations are strugglin with exactly these issues.

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Is employee training-at the enterprise level-an expense or a benefit?

It is very illuminating to look at how different organizations view what they spend on employee training.  At the highest level, training usually gets accounted for as a type of payroll expense or an employee benefit.  Some forms of training are certainly that (tuition reimbursement comes to mind).  Other companies count training as a cost of doing business, especially if they operate in an industry where safety and/or regulatory compliance are important parts of the business.

Apart from how CFO’s might count or classify training, it’s even more instructive to look at how the top leaders of an organizations think about, plan for and implement training as part of enabling the success of their business plans.  Those that do regard training this way are likely to see it as an essential business investment.  Those who don’t are more likely to see training as a perk or optional benefit that they can afford when there is extra cash.

The basic way that the leaders of a business view training comes through in their discussions and decisions, especially around planning and budget time.

However you view it, it’s worth examining your assumptions and actions about how valuable training is for the overall organization.

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One client, a consulting firm, faces several challenges.  They are in a high growth market and they are eager to win market share, so they are hiring consultants to prepare for the work demand.  They need to manage internal operations more thoroughly while systematically developing their talent within.  Where do you start? (more…)

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How do you make the unruly world of sales more manageable?  One way is to align your salesforce on a generally agreed-on sales process and then train them on it and coach them to success.

Key to such an approach are the sales managers: getting them to support this approach and then giving them the tools and training and support to make it successful. (more…)

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Culture clearly plays a part in leadership and how it is expressed in different places.  People who live or move within different cultures encounter these differences and know they are real; the words to accurately describe or understand the differences, however, are often lacking.  We resort to general observations or broad-brush statements that are riddled with exceptions.

The experiences of leaders in different countries clearly shape them.  Two researchers looking at leaders in China, India and Singapore noted difference in challenging assignments, developmental relationships, dealing with hardships, education and personal experience.  All of these influences shape individuals into the leaders they are, and gaining an appreciation for each individual’s personal biography is insightful and essential for understanding their own expression of leadership with its gaps and its strong areas.

One way of understanding leadership differences is through behavior styles.  (more…)

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A mark of great leadership

You know that sucking sound you hear?  It’s caused by the vacuum of leadership we continue to experience. At this exact time in history we continue to muddle through the mess we’re in and there is an absence of leadership to show us the way forward.

Is that too bleak?  I’m not a pessimist even while I try to stay realistic.  Since the worldwide “reset” (recession, currency devaluation, drop in trade–whatever you want to call it) that began in 2008, the signs are clear that we’re looking for direction and the old order has passed.  We’re not too sure what the new order is, while many act confused, some put their heads down and soldier on while the true entrepreneurs smell opportunity and are moving aggressively into action.  You’re going to hear their stories become public in the coming years, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

What are some signs of the times?  (more…)

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One of the best writers on leadership is one you’ve never heard of.  If I told you a few of the titles you still wouldn’t recognize who I’m referencing.  Yet Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management, liked to tell his students that the reason he never wrote a book on leadership was because the first systematic book on leadership was written by Xenophon and it was still the best.  Who was Xenophon?  More about that in a moment, but the point is the best-kept leadership secrets are out in the open, and they rest in (more…)

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Making change stick

McKinsey published an interesting paper earlier this year titled ‘The Irrational Side of Change Management’

It provides insight about traditional approaches to change management and how success or failure is is determined by execution and practical implementation of the approaches.  Organizational change requires the following four conditions for change:
  • a compelling story
  • role modeling
  • reinforcing mechanisms
  • capability building
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