Strategies to develop your top talent

Archive for the ‘Organizational Development’ 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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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. (more…)
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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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Failing to develop leaders

“I’ll bet most of the companies that are in life or death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.”  Wayne Calloway, former Chairman, Pepsico Inc.

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Question:  What are the three critical numbers you use to manage your business?  As a leader, what’s your backup system (or at least your plan) when the game suddenly changes?

I’ll get to that question in a minute, but first let me share a personal story.  I continue to be surprised by some of the misconceptions that people have about flying.  This past weekend I was in a conversation with a man who had a friend that was a pilot of a small plane.  This man’s friend took off on a trip cross country and not too far along he had an instrument failure.  (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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Top talent and the money game

talent-money-gameRecently we looked at two different approaches to developing talent:  paying premiums in compensation packages and investing in a strong internal culture. 

Yesterday  John Mack, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley told his shareholders that he has to pay employees well to keep top talent and grow the business, but he doesn’t see the ability to sustain that into the future.  (more…)

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Talent and the culture factor

top-talent-1What kind of companies tend to keep top talent?  Those that pay a lot or are leaders in their field?  What about those who have an engaging culture?  Let’s take a moment to look at both of those possible answers and see what part culture plays in attracting, developing and retaining top talent. (more…)

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Poise under pressure

The aikido dojo I train in had a significant event over the weekend.  Five of our members took a test, and I was one of them.

legsinaikidoaction_byoldsargeI won’t go into all the background here about aikido (*see the footnote below if you’re interested).  Since we don’t have competitions or tournaments in aikido, testing (and the training that leads up to that) is one of the times when we are able to assess what we have learned and how much more there is to learn.  Besides demonstrating specific techniques that are called out early on, the last part of the test involves multiple attackers coming at you from all directions and you have to effectively deal with each attack without injuring yourself or anyone else.  It is a true test of poise under pressure.


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I had a colleage ask me today about talent management and my experience with how employees respond to talent management efforts at work.  Here’s some of what I shared with her.

From the employee side, there is a natural concern about fairness and favoritism; will Talent Management (TM) be administered fairly and give everyone an equal chance to succeed?  Will it be a cover for leaders who are championing/grooming/promoting their own favorites?


Also, most TM efforts or programs have some kind of measurement included with them.  Some of those include personal profiles or talent assessments.  Some people have a natural fear about how those will be viewed or used by management.  Other measurements are more tied to performance management or productivity or contribution to the company.  Some employees don’t like the additional scrutiny that comes with measurement–period.


Honestly, a lot of “talent management” efforts are really HR-sponsored drives that are modest in their goals/design and don’t have real staying power.  Employees have a legitimate right to question if TM is a “flavor of the year” hobby that will be eventually abandoned in 12-24 months.  That often seems to be what happens unless management is fully committed to it and is willing to make it a robust, long-lasting change in how the organization thinks about and practices talent management.


Of course, I encourage leaders who are committed to developing top talent to exercise some empathy and think first about how their efforts are going to be received by employees.  It can avoid a lot of pain and waste later on.


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