Leadership requires self-directed individuals who can act decisively within their role, and who own the function for which they are responsible

In this module, we learned about the various forces that influence working and learning. Choose what you consider to be the most important forces influencing the industry you are working in. Describe how training helps employees to deal with those forces.

 

FINDING EFFECTIVE MANAGERS AND leaders to fill challenging roles is always a priority because it enables you to overcome uncertainty and to capitalize on hidden opportunities.

According to our Talent Management Survey, 82 percent of companies utilize a formal or informal talent management program, indicating that human capital considerations are among the foremost goals of strategic planning. Less common is consensus on what strategies and methods yield the best results.

Top Five Do’s of TD

From our experience, we distilled five ways to effectively recruit and develop high-potential talent.

1. Develop a common language for talking about talent. It can be difficult to promote a unified talent development strategy in organizations with specialized divisions like Accounting, Sales, IT and Finance. A shared set of standards for identifying individuals with leadership potential is crucial. This starts with having one performance rating scale. Talent managers must identify and assess people against the requirements that help people succeed or derail. Such a standard, based on metrics for leadership best practices identified for each level of management, enables you to determine the high-potentials, provide rising stars with internal promotion options, and retain top talent.

2. Put people in positions that play to their strengths. Effective development of leadership talent depends on their careful placement into positions that suit their functional expertise and leadership strengths. Not every highpotential is suited to every task. Place individuals in situations that promote gradual and sustainable improvement, allowing them to develop and expand their areas of specialization without being spread too thin across the spectrum of management competencies. Managers working within their element are likely to achieve greater productivity. This is not to say, however, that high-potentials should stay within comfort zones. Place them in stretch situations at the edge of their abilities, to challenge them to refine their skill-sets and to acquire new skills without overwhelming them with duties that exceed their capabilities. This enables them to utilize their professional strengths, while developing new capabilities “on the margins”. Stretch assignments should be supported with internal or external coaches, mentors, and a skilled team dedicated to follow-up on support and development of high potential leaders.

3. Let people own their processes. Leadership requires self-directed individuals who can act decisively within their role, and who own the function for which they are responsible. While central talent development may include placement and promotion of managers, give managers of functional areas both authority and accountability for those areas. For high-potentials, process ownership encourages closer engagement with company goals, and more effective and collaborative connections. Don’t hold the reigns too tight, but also don’t allow a “free for all” either.

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4. Connect people to the message. The ability to form strong and sustainable relationships is a vital skill for leaders. Connecting people to the message means inspiring co-workers, conveying shared goals on an emotional level, developing sustainable relationships built on mutual trust, that hold together, even when sacrifices are required. Developing leaders requires setting standards of communication, engagement, and focus to enable them to act as connectors.

5. Balance new perspectives with experienced veterans according to business needs. Should you promote from within, or hire from outside? Do fresh ideas trump organizational knowledge? Is it better to advance people of known character and performance than introduce unknown factors? If your industry is in a state of flux, you may benefit from bringing in fresh perspectives and novel influences. If the business is making consistent headway against known challenges, a balance in favor of internal promotions will give you new leaders who already seek the same goals. Filling leadership roles with current employees with the right skill sets can shorten ramp-up time and reinforce the incentive of potential advancement for other rising stars. On the other hand, recruiting competencies outside the current skill inventory enables you to introduce new people and approaches. Focusing on business needs can help you to arrive at the optimum balance.

Top Five Don’ts:

Here are five tendencies to avoid:

1. Don’t ignore enterprise goals. The culture plays a key role in encouraging collaboration, cooperation, and engagement. A common culture can help to unify the goals across functional divisions, regions, and continents. Don’t indulge in “lone wolf” behaviors that work toward short-term wins and personal agendas. Keep focused on organizational goals and strategies. Highpotentials and new-hires tend to be highly motivated to prove themselves, and to generate quick results. Talent managers must emphasize respect for the culture, partnering with others, and collaborating for better results. Managers involved with leadership development should not lose focus on enterprise goals.

2. Don’t lose focus on business needs. Don’t over-focus on theoretical approaches at the expense of practical business needs. With so many well-developed strategies of leadership development to choose from, it is tempting to ignore facts that might call your methods into question. To avoid this trap, engage with individuals at all levels, and compare performance metrics with the intended outcomes of your decisions. Are leaders who are promoted from within meeting production and efficiency goals? Are you hitting your target numbers for retention of promising talent? Asking such questions will help you to focus on measurable benefits to the company.

3. Don’t be afraid to develop or hire people who challenge you. As a leader, you take pride in your expertise and in the respect of your co-workers. Being challenged can be a threatening and uncomfortable experience. This can cause you to surround yourself with people who agree with you no matter what, creating a culture that is safe, reinforcing, and stagnant. Developing the maturity to encourage respectful dissent and contrary opinions is essential for leaders. It will prevent a culture of fear in which employees allow business goals to suffer out of concern for their own reputations and positions. Fostering open dialogue sets an example for rising stars, contributing to a culture of constructive collaboration that will drive greater performance.

4. Don’t over-orchestrate. You need to set targets for recruitment and development of effective leaders, and create strategies for achieving these goals, and you need to get involved at the operational level to understand the day-to-day details, issues, and concerns that managers need to address. At times, you need to roll up your sleeves and get involved with the actual work. Direct engagement with both recruited and promoted leaders will yield more effective results, and set an example that will lead to better communication. Creating a culture of cooperation and a sense that “We’re all in this together” can break down barriers between line personnel and managers, resulting in a more effective and coherent organization.

5. Don’t undervalue experience and history. When conditions are uncertain or sub-optimal, when there is little agreement as to what is likely to happen, companies are more likely to hire leaders from outside to bring in novel approaches and fresh ideas, but it may cause talent managers to underrate the value of the experience, context, and knowledge that current employees can bring into a new position while preserving continuity and serving as a vote of confidence in the current team, boosting morale and settling fears. While a balance must be maintained between bringing in new people with fresh ideas and promoting proven talent within, don’t let fear of tough times blind you to the benefits of investing in employees who are dedicated to meeting goals.

Today, you need effective and capable leaders to remain resilient, adaptable, and productive. From great trials come great opportunities, and a proactive talent strategy will help you to meet current challenges and prepare for future ones.