Category Archives: Build Talent Quality & Depth

Performance Management Case Study 1

In recent years there has been much debate about performance review or annual appraisal processes. Some of the debate was influenced by changes in practice within large corporations.

This is the first in a new series of case studies examining performance management. Our aim is to find out what really spurred change and what actually happened behind the headline announcements.

CEB research has found that more than 9 in 10 managers are dissatisfied with how their companies conduct annual performance reviews, and almost 9 in 10 HR leaders say the process doesn’t yield accurate information.

In addition, the CEB (formerly the Corporate Executive Board), found that performance management is time-consuming. A CEB survey discovered that managers estimate that they spend an average of 210 hours a year on performance management activities. Managers said their employees, in turn, each spend 40 hours a year. This might be time well spent but it appears that it is not: seventy-seven percent of HR executives report to the CEB that performance reviews don’t accurately reflect employee contributions.

In August 2015, GE decided to do away with annual reviews for its 300,000 employees entirely, replacing these evaluations with more frequent conversations between employees and managers. Senior managers had begun questioning the value of the GE Employee Management System, which had been in place for almost 40 years. The key question posed was: Is it delivering what is needed for the future? An internal review suggested that the EMS was not in practice encouraging continuous and fluid processes of performance development. It wasn’t providing feedback in real time nor helping GE respond to change and prepare for the future.

GE’s existing method of performance review was rather formal, it took place once, sometimes twice, a year and the focus was on a review of the past. The most notable features were its formality, a strong sense of looking backwards and that the system itself drove the process from the top down.

GE’s new system changed the language and the technology of performance management. The focus became development rather than a rear view mirror examination and the name was changed to signal a new intention: Performance Development at GE or PD@GE for short. The aim was to encourage forward-thinking, actionable conversations as a daily priority. These conversations between managers and employees were to consider performance in terms of insights and fuel for coaching, and to have a strong forward focus on delivering impact and outcomes. A strong emphasis was placed on developing employees and delivering business outcomes, focusing on work that matters most, and accelerating an employee’s growth through continuous discussion.

The process is supported through the use of an app: the PD@GE app. This provides a single place where employees can set priorities, organise discussions with managers, and share insights with fellow team members. It was created to encourage a more nimble approach to professional development to ensure maximum efficiency and best serve the company’s customers.

The process allows for occasions where a manager and their team member may take stock and plan development and future work priorities. As GE rolled out the PD@GE approach they experimented with an integrated ratings system, and without. They noticed that, when piloting the no-ratings system, compensation and bonus planning still took place and the overall quality of the conversations were better. GE’s expectations are that managers know their employees so well that they can articulate their impact and behaviours, and then rewards are aligned to both, rather than merely relying on a performance rating.

Who am I?

Changing career in mid-life becomes easier if you have done some work on your values and your passions. Doing so helps many people to understand and to talk about who they are. Regardless of your career to date, your future decisions about career will be easier and more valid if you have a clear understanding of your own orientation toward work, your motives, your values and your self-perceived talents. Being clear about these  helps in focusing career development tactics and enables people to talk confidently about what you will bring to a particular role. My experience as a coach suggests that most people have several passions and that as they get older they make decisions about the passion – or the small number of passions – that are so strongly aligned with their values that they will not give them up easily.

Some people are very clear about their career related values. Others find it helpful to take one of many career assessments. These assessments will help you explore your career interests, skills, your values, and personality. In this post I would like to introduce Edgar Schein’s “Career Anchors”.

Edgar Schein and Thomas De Long developed “career anchors” in the 1970s. They described career anchors as that combination of perceived areas of competence, motives and values that you would not give up: it represents your real self.

Schein’s “Career Anchors” can help you think through your career options and give you a clear understanding of:

  • Your own orientations toward work
  • Your motives
  • Your values
  • Your talents

Use of “Career Anchors” also helps people:

  • Define the themes and patterns dominant in their life
  • Understand their own approach to work and a career
  • Provide reasons for choices
  • Take steps to fulfil their own self-image

As you accumulate work experience, you have the opportunity to make choices; from these choices you begin to ascertain what you really find important. Dominant themes emerge—critical skills or abilities that you want to exercise or crucial needs or values that dominate your orientation toward life. You may have had a sense of these elements but, until now, you may not have assessed them in a thorough way. However, when changing careers in mid-life this self-awareness becomes vital. Knowing how important these aspects of yourself are and how any given talent, motive, or value relates to other elements of your total personality becomes an important “lens” through which to plan and talk about your career change journey. It is often only when we are confronted with difficult choices that we begin to evaluate and decide what is really important to us.

With accumulation of work experience and feedback comes clarification and insight, providing a basis for making more rational and empowered career decisions. Notice the importance of feedback especially if you have participated in work-based feedback processes and have a recent report that you can re-examine.

Through self-assessment the self-concept begins to function more and more as a personal “guidance system” and as an “anchor” that shapes career choice. Out of this process people begin to talk about careers saying that this role is something they identify with whilst that occupation is not something they could ever see themselves doing. This knowledge keeps us on course or in a “safe harbour”.

As people recount their career choices, they increasingly refer to “being pulled back” to things they have strayed from or, looking ahead, “figuring out what they really want to do” or “finding themselves.” This process leads people to gradually move from having broad goals to a sense of knowing better what it is that they would not give up if forced to make a choice. The career anchor, as defined by Schein and his co-authors, is that one element in a person’s self-concept that he or she will not give up, even in the face of difficult choices. And if their work does not permit expression of the anchor, people find ways of expressing it in their hobbies, in second jobs, or in leisure activities.

Schein and his colleague developed the career anchor concept at MIT. An empirical investigation conducted by Catherine Steele and others and reported to the British Psychological Society’s 2007 Occupational Psychology Conference, concluded that the eight career anchors, as measured through use of Edgar Schein’s “Career Anchors: Discovering Your Real Values” is a valid model with satisfactory internal reliability results.

This tested reliability is important to know because there are many forms of assessment available and not all of them are reliable. I recommend that mid-life career changers make use of the “Career Anchors” approach and find that people do find it beneficial. It is recommended for use in  “My Career Development Plan”  which you can purchase here

Schein’s approach to Career Anchors included the use of a Career Anchor Interview to be used after completion of the Career Orientations Inventory. I am pleased to advise about the use of the Interview: it is a particularly helpful process that mid-life career changers have found valuable.

“Career Anchors: The Changing Nature of Careers: Self Assessment”, 4th Edition by Edgar H. Schein and John Van Maanen, published in May 2013 contains the “Career Anchors Self-Assessment” or “Career Orientations Inventory”,  the simple “Scoring Instructions” and the “Descriptions of the Career Anchor Categories”. Guidance on the user’s “Next Steps” and “Choices” are also included.

Leadership: What We Know – Part 2

The world of job analysis was overturned in the 1970s when McClelland began using a competency focus to understand the requirements of a particular role or job. It wasn’t McClelland’s intention to generalise but the publication of a 1982 book by his colleague, Richard Boyatzis, led to an explosion of interest in managerial competency frameworks. In the UK, particularly, this facilitated the growth of the Management Charter Initiative and competency-based learning and development. Over decades these approaches have progressively influenced practice in, particularly, Australia, New Zealand and the development of craft, technical, apprenticeship and managerial development internationally.

In the management domain, a strong argument can be made that most competency frameworks have identified four clusters of capability. The first of these is concerned with intrapersonal skills and includes growing awareness of and the application of emotional intelligence, as we now know it. The second focus is on the interpersonal skills of relationship building and the third is concerned with business skills. Finally, it has become widely accepted that there is a fourth leadership skillset that concerns vision, strategy (both allied to and using the business skills mentioned earlier) and building and motivating an engaged, high-performing team of people. It is helpful to consider that this four-stage model is developmental. The development of intrapersonal skills typically takes place during the pre-teen years and may be followed by the application of these capabilities interpersonally in the late teens and beyond. Business understanding and competency may be more amenable to formal teaching and coaching, action learning and other experiential methods of development can be used, powerfully, to enable the association of the first, second and third focus areas. Finally, leadership skills may or may not be added to the individual’s toolkit. It has generally become accepted that this developmental model also represents a trainability continuum. The first cluster of intrapersonal capabilities is not highly trainable – their very nature often warrants highly individualised approaches to learning. The second cluster is also less easily trained and may require considerable investment in experiential learning, feedback and coaching. The third cluster certainly includes a body of knowledge that can be relatively easily defined and may include core professional understanding plus organisational and wider business expertise that can be sector-specific or related to the maturity, complexity, type and/or scale of the business. Here we see the curriculum of the typical MBA. Applied leadership skills frequently develop later and the design of appropriately engaging developmental experiences provides the opportunity for great innovation and creativity.

Organisations may apply important nuances to the four clusters. One recent global client wanted to highlight the importance of leaders demonstrating, in their early careers, that they are ‘personally well-functioning’ and able to ‘operate effectively and to adapt to challenge, ambiguity and change’. The second cluster may be expressed in terms of the individual’s ability to make things happen through others by applying their interpersonal capabilities: outcomes rather than latent behavioural skills may be most evident in the descriptions of these competences.

Business skills need to be expressed in terms that are easily understood in the leader’s sector and, whilst there is some ongoing public and private sector business practice convergence, these two organisational spheres are clearly not the same in every respect. Similarities and differences need to be captured in descriptions of competences that resonate with the users of any framework of competences.

The extent to which the fourth cluster will have a strong future orientation will depend upon a number of factors including the maturity of the sector and the various changing and challenging opportunities and constraints the organisation faces.

Whilst the nuances are important, there is little evidence to suggest that the fourfold taxonomy of competences is less than comprehensive or has been superseded. When,  in 2001, Jim Collins published his groundbreaking book, “Good To Great”, a rare example of a business book based on actual research, Collins –  and his team – were able to conclude that leaders that took charge and improved organisational performance scored well on the four competences outlined above and had two other qualities. First, they were modest and humble, as opposed to self-dramatizing and self-promoting and, second, they were phenomenally persistent.

A question arises concerning the way in which leaders influence organisational performance. (They certainly do so: Joyce, Nohria and Roberson (2003) showed that CEOs account for about 14% of the variance in firm performance.) Leaders appear, through their personality, to influence the culture and the dynamics of their senior teams.

It was long thought that managerial incompetence was largely about managers not having the “right stuff”. Recent research shows that it is more to do with managers having the “wrong stuff”: some kind of “personality defect”. Leslie and Van Velsor (1996) summarised the results of reputable research and found that failed managers typically had poor interpersonal skills (they were insensitive, arrogant, cold, aloof and overly ambitious); they were unable to get work done (because they betrayed trust or didn’t follow through, for example); they were unable to build a team and they were unable to make a transition following a promotion. The associations with the four clusters are very clear.

References

Boyatzis, Richard E., “The Competent Manager: A Model for Effective Performance” Wiley, ISBN: 978-0-471-09031-1

Collins, Jim C, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t”, William Collins, October 2001, ISBN: 978-0-06-662099-2

Nohria, Nitin, William F. Joyce, and Bruce Roberson. “What Really Works.” Harvard Business Review 81, no. 7 (July 2003).

Leslie, J.B. and Van Velsor, E. (1996). A look at derailment today: North America and Europe. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.

Leadership: What We Know – Part 1


The British General Election campaign in May 2017 was dominated by discussion about the character of the leadership ‘offer’ being made by party leaders May and Corbyn. May’s commitment was to provide “strong and stable leadership”, whilst Corbyn was widely associated with a more collegiate style of leadership. This projection of a promised brand of leadership is not uncommon in election campaigns but it tends to beg the question: “what exactly do we know about leadership?

The reality is that, despite the importance of the subject, we securely know relatively little about it and many opposing positions can be honestly taken on leadership effectiveness. This is problematic for at least two reasons. First, because leadership is the key to organisational effectiveness, with good leadership, organisations effectively and efficiently deliver what is needed and those within them enjoy well being and a sense of aligned engagement. Second, and more importantly from a moral and ethical perspective, bad leaders create havoc and misery that sometimes blights generations and entire countries for years.

The complexity of the relationship between leaders and their followers is certainly one reason for our general lack of secure knowledge. It is also true that mountains of paper have been piled up and many writers have drained deep wells of ink with scant regard for evidence and, sometimes, an overwhelming  desire to sell yet another “airport book”. Even where evidence-based studies have been completed with rigour, over a period that warrants our attention, it has often been perfectly possible to draw divergent conclusions about what was really happening in the research!

Leadership does not, of course, occur in a vacuum. There are those who would argue that leadership in society generally is of less consequence than other forces of greater magnitude and influence than human control. Opposing this view would be those who would argue that, at important junctures in history, human leadership emerges and does indeed result in critical change.

Taking this second view as a starting point we can begin to understand the likely importance of two aspects of human personality. The first concerns how the individual sees themselves (their ‘identity’) and the second how others see the individual. Various tools commonly used in leadership development have these twin perceptions at their heart. 360° feedback, done well, effectively brings together these perceptions; a well managed Development Centre achieves more with greater reliability and the Johari window is a tool that brings together these twin perceptions.

A person’s ‘identity’ is hard to identify and work with. Recent reports suggest that the analysis of social media data combined with other aspects of the ‘electronic fingerprint’ being left by many people can provide clues to how a person sees themselves. The potential misuse of accumulated data of this type is clearly evident.

Reputation, on the other hand, can be examined in a range of ways. Generally, assessments will distinguish between impressions created when an individual is at their best and an alternative and related impression created when that same individual is at their worst. Leaders with well-developed social skills will frequently be adept at masking the dark side impressions. However, the ability to keep the mask on over a sustained period is rare and our ‘dark side’ tendencies typically emerge over time. Trust is often eroded in line with the mask slipping and people becoming more aware of the darker side of an individual. The gateway to many opportunities in life is reputation, as many leaders explicitly or implicitly recognise.

Simple frequency analysis has gradually allowed us to understand which leadership characteristics (we might dub them ‘leadership virtues’) are most important to the led. In order of importance they are: integrity, decisiveness, competence and vision. Because integrity is the most important virtue it follows that the single most important question we can ask of potential leaders is this: “Can we trust you not to abuse the privilege of authority?”

A significant meta-analysis shows that from trust in leadership there springs improved job performance; job satisfaction and organisational commitment (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002).

As a counterweight to the focus on the individual leader and their personality, we also need to be aware of the context within which leadership is exercised. Those people that rise to the top of a university are likely to be characterised by a different cluster of talents, capabilities and personality traits than those that are in charge of a major league football club, for example. They may or may not have a talent for leadership. However, whilst leadership is circumstantial, Alberto Silva (2014) has asserted that “… groups choose as leaders only those people who they believe to have leadership skills, and people that do not possess leadership qualities will not be considered as leaders by any group in any circumstance.” It seems to be true that the characteristics associated with effective leadership are actually surprisingly similar across industries and cultures.

Hogan and Kaiser noted, in 2005, that leadership has tended to be defined in terms of influence exerted or in relation to the ratings given by more senior leaders. Hogan and Kaiser take the view that the litmus test of leadership should be this: does this person demonstrate that they build and maintain a group that performs well relative to its competition?

So, two key leadership questions emerging are these:

Can we trust this person not to abuse the privilege of authority?

Has this this person demonstrated that they will build and maintain a group that performs well relative to its competition? Alternatively*: Do we have enough evidence to show that they will build and maintain a group that will perform well relative to its competition?

*The second alternative question above may appear difficult to use. If this is the case, and the person being considered has no evident track record in this area, a good replacement question is this: “Does this person have basic knowledge about how to take a group of people and turn them into a high performing team?” Surprisingly, perhaps, this turns out to be a very effective differentiator!

Does talent management and leadership development where you are pay attention to these key questions?

 

References

Dirks KT, Ferrin DL., ” Trust in leadership: meta-analytic findings and implications for research and practice”. Journal of Appl Psychol. August 2002, 87(4): 611-28.

Hogan, Robert; Kaiser, Robert B. “What We Know About Leadership”, Review of General Psychology, Vol 9(2), Jun 2005, 169-180.

Silva A, “What Do We Really Know About Leadership?”. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly 2014, Volume 5, Number 4.

Distributed Leadership

Leadership teams in any organisation today typically face a volatile and uncertain operating environment and, consequently, need to be both high performing and adaptable. In this new √itas Consult series we will be exploring those characteristics of top teams that lead to high performance and adaptability.

In 2011 Roselinde Torres and Nneka Rimmer wrote[1]: “Top teams … must be more than just high performing. They also need to adapt and thrive, regardless of the turbulence they face.”

Roselinde Torres and her team at the Boston Consulting Group had undertaken research examining a possible association between a company’s performance versus its peers and the adaptive capacity of its senior-leadership team. They found a correlation between the two factors. They also found that employees enjoy a more emotionally rich and engaging experience when they are part of adaptive teams. Torres and Rimmer found that adaptive top leadership teams adhere to four operating principles (and these will form the focus of this short series of articles).

  1. Distributed Leadership. Torres and her team found that successful adaptive team leaders believe in the value of sharing leadership at the top and developing leaders at every level.

There may, of course, be a considerable gap between believing in the value of shared leadership and actually practicing it! In coaching I have noticed the importance of listening for indications that team members have similar understandings of their team’s main objectives and that they actually take steps to ensure a focus on collective goals. This can be demonstrated through their approach to managing the performance of their own team members.

It is frequently clear when team members are actively providing emotional and psychological strength to one another. This may occur through acts of encouragement or expressed recognition of other team members’ contributions and accomplishments. If this social support isn’t evident then a significant support for shared leadership is absent.

A third powerful support for shared leadership is in place when a team’s members have input into how the team carries out its purpose.

Carson et al. noted[2] that “When team members are able to speak up and get involved (they have voice), the likelihood that many of them will exercise leadership increases greatly. The opportunity for voice also facilitates shared leadership by strengthening both a common sense of direction and the potential for positive interpersonal support in a team. When teams are focused on collective goals (having a shared purpose), there is a greater sense of meaning and increased motivation for team members to both speak up and invest themselves in providing leadership to the team and to respond to the leadership of others. The motivation to participate and provide input toward achieving common goals and a common purpose can also be reinforced by an encouraging and supportive climate. When team members feel recognized and supported within their team (social support exists) they are more willing to share responsibility, cooperate, and commit to the team’s collective goals. Thus, these three dimensions work together to create an internal team environment that is characterised by a shared understanding about purpose and goals, a sense of recognition and importance, and high levels of involvement, challenge, and cooperation.”

104px-king_henry_v_from_npgRichard Olivier, writing about Shakespeare’s great leader, Henry V, notes that a 15th century king might be expected to move his Lords towards the achievement of a vision by laying that vision out, then announcing that he will sort out the strategy and only then telling his Lords what to do. Such a leader, thinking that their only way of maintaining their identification with a great project is not to share ownership, invariably cuts themselves off from the very support they need. For Henry V the temptation not to share leadership must have been strong: in Elizabethan times the monarch was considered to be touched by the divine. However, Henry V shares leadership generously and Olivier is able to write: “Henry V is wise enough to know that if he wants others to invest themselves in the project he has to share it with them. There is no more effective way of doing this than to get them involved in planning the next steps.”[3]

Sharing leadership at the top and developing leaders frequently go hand in hand. Not only so, but the most challenging decisions, programmes and changes often create exactly the opportunities needed to foster distributed leadership. When the U.S. pharmaceutical company, SmithKline Beckman, and the U.K. consumer products company, the Beecham Group, were engaged in merger planning, the leader of the Merger Management Committee, Robert Bauman, recognised this. “The best way to achieve management alignment was to have the Executive Management Committee work on a task together. The harder and more important the task, and the more integral its members felt the EMC was in accomplishing that task, the better the chances of them coming together.”[4]

As Jon R Katzenbach puts it: “team performance at the top is all about doing real work together”. “Real work”, as Katzenbach defines it, is not the same as open discussion, debate and the delegation of authority. Real work undertaken together is about the members of a leadership group applying different skills to produce a performance improvement that could not be achieved by any one member alone.

At the very highest level of team engagement I would expect to find participants using language that suggests an interdependent community. This is what Todd Hybels discovers as a young leader and later discusses with his father, Bill:

“Community is more than just working with other people. It’s doing life deeply with one another as we serve together. And there’s a huge difference between the two.”[5]

That’s highly distributed leadership.


[1] “The Five Traits of Highly Adaptive Leadership Teams”, Boston Consulting Group: https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/leadership_organization_design_five_traits_of_highly_adaptive_leadership_teams/ Sourced 2 November 2016. In this article the authors discuss “The Value of Adaptive Advantage” research undertaken by the BCG Strategy Institute. The research showed that the more adaptive companies are, the more financial gains that company generates. They also consistently outperform their industry peers and sustain superior performance over time.

[2] Carson, J. B, Tesluk, P. E., & Marrone, J. A. (2007). Shared leadership in team: An investigation of antecedent conditions and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 5, 1217-1234.

[3] Olivier, R., (2002) “Inspirational Leadership: Henry V and the Muse of Fire – Timeless Insights from Shakespeare’s Greatest Leader, p.47

[4] Bauman, R. P. et al., (1997) “From Promise to Performance: Journey of Transformation at SmithKline Beecham”, p. 35

[5] Hybels, B., (2002) “Courageous Leadership”, p.74

Third Sector Managerial Coaching

“Coaching managers” are managers who coach their team members in a work context. The person being coached is sometimes referred to as the coachee. Effective coaching, according to Hunt and Weintraub, ‘is much more powerful and useful than merely providing feedback to someone with a performance problem’ (2002:2).

Yet the role of the coaching manager is, according to Cox et al., Bachkirova and Clutterbuck, ‘the most difficult and controversial coaching role’ (2010) and the most problematic according to Bresser (2011). Managers may be reluctant or sceptical about the coaching manager role if they have not been coached themselves (Ladyshewsky, 2010). On the other hand, if a manager has had a positive experience of being coached, they are more likely to want their team members to experience coaching and to want to develop their own coaching skills (Knights and Poppleton, 2007).

Given that the relationship between coach and coachee is not just of significant importance but is actually the critical success factor in coaching (according to Bluckert 2005), where a manager has an existing strong relationship that enhances the prospect of success if they progressively adopt a coaching style.

In the Third Sector there are numerous tools that can help a manager take more of a managerial coaching approach. Bridgespan, for example, have a free on-line diagnostic survey that helps managers and leaders to identify those leadership development activities already in place and to think about how to step up to the next level.

The results from this survey frequently kick-start the flywheel and can help bolster a a culture of development. To keep things moving forward managers can then:

Meet with each of their direct reports during the year to discuss progress against their goals. Managers may not want to create something new: in which case they might use existing review meetings within which they are used to discussing progress against other goals. This existing framework can easily absorb a “progress against development goals” topic.

Development of people can sometimes be seen as an optional, “nice to do” process. If that’s the case managers may need an accountability framework. A coaching manager will want to ensure that they multiply their time investment by ensuring that their direct reports have development goals in their annual performance agreements. Then, at key points in the year, these will need effective review and an end year evaluation. This business-like approach is a powerful way for a leader to make clear that development is part of a leader’s and a manager’s job.

Of course, the coaching manager should expect to be ready to coach and counsel those struggling with developing their staff. The well timed follow up after managers have had discussions with their team members to see how it went and to provide advice for the future is often key to setting expectations. (You might bring in an outside coach to run a session for the entire leadership team on this topic).

Having established these accountabilities discussing the performance and potential of staff members becomes an easier conversation to have and, if a 9 Box Performance/Potential Matrix is used, the provides a great framework.

This annual review is helpfully put into context if it is possible to start the discussion with a perspective on where the organisation is going and what the likely leadership and other capability requirements will be in three years or so. This meeting may also help the top team to develop a common view of the key positions that will probably become vacant in that timescale.

The Nine Box Performance/Potential Grid or Matrix
The Nine Box Performance/Potential Grid or Matrix

The coaching manager will need to ensure that the top team using the 9 Box Performance/Potential Matrix agree on what constitutes “high potential,” for example. It’s good to calibrate judgements by first discussing a few individuals whom the top team know really well. Once you’ve established a rough set of standards and benchmarks, the senior team can plot their direct reports on the performance-potential matrix. Time spent in focused discussion on the outliers is invariably a good investment. Who stand out clearly as future leaders? Where do you face problems? Who are the excellent individual contributors that you need to retain and develop? Pick a small number of future leaders to focus on for development discussions, and charge each senior leader with the collaborative development of a plan with the individuals and for them.

Leadership teams get better at this each time they do it. Before long, your top team will be talking about more staff and about how to move individuals from the upper left to the upper right of the performance-potential matrix. You’ll soon increase the number of individuals whom your top team should focus on from a few to many.

THenschelTom Henschel grooms senior leaders and executive teams. An internationally recognised expert in the field of workplace communications and self-presentation, he has helped hundreds of executives achieve The Look & Sound of Leadership™. He provides excellent 15 minute case study-based podcasts of huge value to any manager wanting to adopt a coaching approach. √itas Consult recommend these for starters:

  • Coaching your people: A fifteen minute crash course in managerial (or leadership) coaching, tutored by one of the world’s most respected coaches.
  • Leading through delegation: Learn the three steps of effective delegation (in under 15 minutes) and discover how to inject coaching into the mix, for greater success in getting the job done and developing your people.
  • Coaching versus therapy: Both interventions share certain features and yet also differ. An experienced, professional coach explains how and why.
  • Thinking errors: A thinking error is a pattern of thoughts that aren’t true. But we believe them. And since it’s a pattern, it repeats itself. Usually for years. Thinking errors tend to lead to bad outcomes. The coach explains how a thinking error was handicapping a client’s work.
  • Assertion: Rosa’s main coaching goal was to become more assertive. Her boss, her teammates and her direct reports all wanted her to manage more boldly, share her wisdom sooner, and speak up when she saw things going awry. But Rosa was very uncomfortable asserting herself. Find out how her coach helped Rosa speak her truth.

Need advice about managerial coaching? Contact √itas Consult.

 

What Should Leaders Do To Build Talent Quality & Depth?

Why do some companies always seem to have more than their fair share of talent? Why do these same companies seem to build better talent faster?

Recently Marc Effron, President of The Talent Strategy Group and Jim Shanley, President of The Shanley Group wrote up their* answers to these two critical questions.

Their combined experience, research and interview data tells them that companies stumble in this effort because they haven’t answered the fundamental question: What should leaders do to build talent quality and depth? Their answer is to emphasise six critical roles that leaders can play …

  • Drawing from “The war for talent” research (by Michaels, Ed, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod published by Harvard Business Press in 2001) Effron and Shanley note that high performing companies have a shared talent mindset: “They have a consistent company approach to managing talent and managers are clearly accountable to execute that approach”. At the individual manager level this means that managers make finding and growing great talent the core of their business agenda: they are “talent evangelists”. These “managers make finding and growing great talent the core of their business agenda. They speak up, down and across the organization about talent and the importance of having superior talent.”
  • An “active investor” approach to talent involves the manager reviewing his portfolio frequently and making choices about where to increase and decrease investment – just as he would with every other asset in the company. “They don’t keep production equipment because it’s been around for 20 years and they have warm feelings towards it. They don’t allocate their marketing budget evenly across all campaigns to be “fair.””
  • Effron and Shanley know that the “talent accelerating manager” “builds better talent faster than other leaders inside and outside your company. She understands that talent grows fastest using big, challenging assignments and meaningful experiences. Because of this, her highest potential talent are in roles where their capabilities are tested and stretched on a daily basis.”
  • The “performance driver”, according to Effron and Shanley, “ensure[s] that their direct reports are performing at the “top quintile” of performance for their compensation level as compared to their peers globally. He is not shy about communicating that 80th percentile performance is the expected performance standard.”
  • The “talent scout” is characterised by constantly scanning their “own organisations and others for superior talent. They meet with the company’s highest potential leaders across departments and geographies to get to know them and to calibrate them against their current team.” As a result “talent scouts” have a pipeline of talent available internally and externally and they seldom have “empty seats”.
  • The “transparent coach” is blunt, direct or candid. They know that in the moment, accurate and honest feedback accelerates development by reducing the cycle time for learning. They may use feedforward** or feedback but they ensure that the messages are received.

Effron and Shanley recognise that these capabilities may seem aspirational. Two or three of these roles can, however,  be learned by every leader in any company.

Vitas Consult can provide tailored development through which your leaders and managers can learn, role play and develop the two or three roles they feel most comfortable with. Together with suitable accountability arrangements this can enable your organisation to build better talent faster than your competitors.


* Formerly Global Practice Leader, Leadership Consulting at Hewitt Associates, Marc now consults using his “One Page Talent Management” approach, which emphasises science-based simplicity, transparency and accountability. Jim Shanley was formerly lead executive for talent and learning at the Bank of America.
** Feedforward as a management term has been used by Avraham Kluger since 2006 and by Marshall Goldsmith in one of his prominent management articles.