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Strategies to develop your top talent

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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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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Can leadership be learned?

“Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it.”  Henry Mintzberg

Leadership can be studied as a subject.  You can read about it.  But you don’t learn to lead by reading.  You learn by leading, by taking risks, striking out in a particular direction and noticing others are following you.  And you fail too.  Or you fail to meet expectations.  You learn leadership this way, when you try and fail and then try again and don’t give up.

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Headed to Shanghai

Since late last year I have been making monthly trips to China to work with a consulting firm that helps large companies develop their people and specifically their management.

At the same time, my family and I are up for a challenge and change of environment for us to grow.  So, we are headed to Shanghai for a multi-year assignment.  I will probably be posting less but I will try to put some interesting ideas on the table.  Stay tuned for more developments!

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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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Golden Partnership

When two parties can work well together and help each other accomplish what neither one can do by themselves and when they can do that in a way that elevates work above the ordinary and gives it more meaning, that is what I have begun to call “golden partnership”.

Here are a few examples from recent experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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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? Read the rest of this entry »

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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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.  Read the rest of this entry »

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