Competing Through People  | April 2015 Edition
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Filling the Talent Bench


The numbers of potential new leaders required over the next decade are somewhat staggering.  This is at a time when many organizations are growing due to an improving business climate.  As a result, I am working with several clients to address how they identify and develop the leadership talent they need for the future.  If you find your organization in the same situation, here are some ideas to help you from reinventing the wheel.


Build A Business Case First.  Though the headcount numbers may be obvious, it is sometimes difficult to convince leaders that extra time and effort should be invested in developing talent.  Don't start the discussion with the numbers.  Start by asking some pointed questions about the business - What are some of the demands the business will be facing?  What roles will be particularly critical in addressing those demands? What have people done (or not done) that effectively addressed these types of challenges in the past?  What talent would be invaluable for our competitors to have?  The answers to these questions should help build the case for why investing in talent could have as much of a payoff as investing elsewhere.


Know Which Leaders Have the Potential to Make a Difference.  Past performance is a predictor of the future performance only if the future challenge is the same.  In this volatile business climate, it is more critical to know which leaders or potential leaders have the agility to deal with the new and different, to be comfortable with change and to learn as they go.  Identifying who in your organization possesses these capabilities is a key to not just filling the bench but filling it with people who can make a difference.


Develop With Assignments Not Training.  The competencies that are typically keys to success in leadership roles do not come from a book or classroom.  These skills are developed by successfully navigating a challenging job or assignment, intentionally learning from the experience and applying the new learning in the next challenge.  That's what careers today should look like and that's the kind of experience that should be programmed for the leaders that have the potential to make a difference.


Want to read more?  Check out my free whitepapers on Building a Robust Succession Management Process or Leadership Development Redefined.


Crafting an HR Strategy

I was recently asked why a company's HR department should have a strategy.  I almost said, "So that you can bring your talent practices out of the dark ages" or "So that HR can finally gain some respect in your company".  But I refrained.  Instead, I outlined how every function should build a link to the organization's strategy and goals.  Maybe more so in the chunks of the business that oversee critical assets, like people.

HR often views itself as a pair of hands, waiting for some executive to tell it do something or for the next people mess to pop up.  I work with my clients to view HR as a proactive business partner and to work through a process with HR to build a robust talent strategy.

The HR Strategy should be built from and influence the overall strategy.  It also should be built from the outside in - from customer needs and perceptions to talent processes. Almost every time I do that exercise, we find that HR is spending time on the wrong things (things that don't make a business impact) and/or is lacking a key capability.  And, no, employees are not the customers of HR.  HR's customers are the managers that need their capability to achieve specific business goals and who will allocate and spend money to do so.

In addition to being aligned with strategy and customers, HR should integrate its talent practices and processes.  This means that whatever we use to hire, develop and promote employees should be all targeted at the same goal - making a difference in the ability of the company to execute the strategy.  If those talent practices don't talk to each other or are seen as separate processes, time for a change.  The best way for talent processes to be integrated is through competency modeling.
If you're interested, I've written more on this topic in a whitepaper entitled HR Just Doesn't Get It.
What Are You Up To
Getting Strategic With Talent
I had an opportunity to sit down with a reporter for the Canadian HR Reported after I made a presentation to the Strategic Capabilities Network in Toronto earlier this year.  Click here to listen to an excerpt of that interview.

Who Is Taking Over: Developing Your Next Generation of Leaders
HR Association of Central PA
June 23
Harrisburg, PA


HR's Role in Strategy Execution

Pennsylvania State SHRM Conference

September 24 and 25

State College, PA 

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