Talent Mastery: Achievable Vision?

by Anne Pertus

Developing a powerful workforce with high performing employees is the ultimate goal for any forward thinking organisation, thus ensuring that you have the right person in the right job at the right time with all the objectives aligned with the Vision and Mission of the company.

How realistic is this Vision?  How many small to medium sized companies are focused on this Vision?

The typical situation for small and medium size enterprises (SME’s) is one of increasing revenues and ensuring sustainability of the revenues.  All hands are focused on getting the business, delivering the products or services and getting paid in an increasingly fast-paced and increasing complex environment.  The leaders of these companies are often working long hours and expect their employees to do the same.  Oftentimes, these the leaders are not satisfied with the performance of their employees, they may feel they are not all committed or engaged with their Vision.  Frustration, high employee turnover costs, lower profits and the feeling of never finding ‘’the right people’’ are often keeping these leaders awake at night.

In a research paper from the Center for Creative Leadership entitled 10 Trends of Senior Executives’ views on the Future, and based on interviews of 247 senior executives around the globe, talent management and the development of talent was a consistent theme. “Organisations must create pools of candidates with high leadership potential and give them space to reach their personal goals.’’

So, how do these leaders focus on the future as well as being so involved in the present?  What are other successful companies doing?  What are the best practices out there?

DDI’s recent white paper on optimizing your leadership pipeline states that flawless execution of the company’s strategy is key and that this will largely depend on the ability of the company to select and develop the best possible leaders for tomorrow.

We’ve all heard about bench strength, how deep is your company’s?  Have you strategized and put a plan in place for all your critical positions?  Are the high potentials in your organisation aware that they are being considered for these key positions?

In the ever increasing War on Talent, it’s still extremely important and especially so in these tougher economic times, to have a plan for how your company will attract and retain the best of the best? Many SME leaders believe that the larger companies attract the best of the best because they can offer more; not so.  Recent graduates and new employees in the workplace are more concerned with finding a company that they feel part of and can grow with.  These new entrants to the workforce are looking for companies who share their values, have an eye on work and life balance, environmental concern, social responsibility and that everyone is part of something good.  Oftentimes, SME’s are best suited to fulfill these requirements.

But how do you attract, retain and develop these great high potential performers?

The simple answer is to make it part of your company’s objectives. Furthermore, these objectives should be tied to performance evaluations. Every leader or manager in every organisation has to be involved.  It is no longer the sole responsibility of the HR department. The responsibility of attracting, retaining and developing employees should be the focus of all leaders and managers.

Jack Welsh, the ex CEO of GE created an amazing talent machine during his tenure that still continues to evolve today. He believes that each leader’s main focus is developing people and to ensure that each person is being as effective as possible in their current role, next role and future roles. He famously categorized employees into the A’s the B’s and the C’s. Employees were categorized based on performance. This is reinforced on a yearly, quarterly and sometimes monthly basis, the identification, assessment and development of the Talent within GE.

A famous Jack Welsh quote is:
’’My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.’’

So, how does an SME focus on Talent Mastery?

There are 4 main steps:

  • Understand where the organization is headed and what talent will be required.
  • Identification, assessment and development of the talent and creating a talent plan
  • Making the talent plan part of the strategic vision of your organization
  • Reviewing, measuring and updating the talent plan

This all sounds good on paper; however, how will your organisation put this into action?  In my opinion, this starts at the top level and is included in all strategic discussions, planning and execution.  It is crucial that every leader be accountable to always be on the lookout for GREAT talent, whether inside or outside the organization, provide on-going development and ensures that the talent needed, now and later stays and continues to perform and contribute to the success of the organisation.

Let us know what you think!

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