In the News: Check out my latest article on Competent Competency Models in eTEQ, The Pittsburgh Technology Council�s Online Magazine. eTEQ explores the hottest companies, coolest people and latest trends and issues in southwestern Pennsylvania�s technology industry.


Top 10 Signs That You Are NOT Taking A Strategic Approach to Talent

Google "Strategic Talent Management" and you will come up with about 2 million hits. The discussion about STM is reaching a fevered pitch online, in blogs, and at conferences. Approaching talent from a strategic perspective is more than just a hot topic. It is a significant evolutionary step up from "Employees First" or "People Are Your Most Important Asset" perspectives. STM puts the emphasis back where it should be � on strategy � and driving the business strategy with a focused workforce strategy.

My new mantra is "People are NOT your most important asset. The right people in the right roles doing the right things are your most important asset". "Right" can only be determined from the context of the business strategy.

So, is your company evolving, taking a strategic approach to talent and adding to the STM discussion? I thought it might be enlightening to answer this question by describing what STM is not so here is my top ten list of Signs That You Are NOT Taking A Strategic Approach To Talent.

  1. No one can adequately describe the link between talent and the business strategy
  2. Regular, robust discussions about talent are not built into the business planning process
  3. Executives are not held accountable for managing talent
  4. Employee performance goals are not clearly linked to company goals
  5. The measurement of talent focuses on the budget or recruiting efficiency
  6. Differentiated investment in high-value employees doesn�t occur because of the concern that some employees might feel left out
  7. Poor performance is tolerated
  8. Everyone gets the same annual base increase, no matter if they are low and high performers
  9. T&D is all "T and no "D"
  10. Competency models are not high-performance +/or future-focused

Learn More about the Top 10
Learn about Strategic Talent Management

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From The Best and The Brightest

I had the unique opportunity to hear from several benchmark leaders recently and came away with some real nuggets, pearls of wisdom, idea gems . . . you get the point . . . about organization talent.

The first leader was EQT Corp. Chairman Murry Gerber who spoke at a Leadership Dialogue series on the tremendous opportunities created by the Marcellus Shale and its importance to the US's energy independence. His candid comments about the state of our energy policy were enlightening. However, it was a side note comment about the type of people that he wants working around him that stuck with me. This is not an exact quote but Mr. Gerber stated something like, "Some people know how to get things done, many more can tell you what to do. I'll take the How's over the What's any time." (When he took over the leadership of EQT, he also stated in employee meetings that his role was to "change people or change people".)

By the way, are you interested in the trends
that are keeping the HR Award Winners
awake at night? They highlighted three:
1. The numerous landmines being created
by legislative and compliance changes
foisted upon business by an activist
federal government (expletives deleted),
2. Global economic changes and
the impact that will have on their business,
3. The changing demographics and
expectations of the workforce.<

The other source of talent insights was a panel discussion featuring HR Leader of the Year award winners for the Pittsburgh region. Though the panel represented a wide range of organizations and business challenges, it was amazing to hear the similarities across the panel in how they have added value to their organizations.

One common theme for companies that successfully changed their cultures was the importance of "Top Grading" or assessing and differentiating the approach they took with pivotal talent. This included regular talent reviews to identify "A", "B" and "C" talent, building a common language of success and improving the performance management capabilities of managers. This talent differentiation was also reflected in compensation practices for several companies.

Do you see the theme that I heard? Mr. Gerber had a simple way of identifying the "A" talent that helped him change EQT from a moribund utility to a fast growing player in the US energy economy. The HR Leaders used a more refined technology to develop a strategic approach to talent that made a difference in their firms. Either way, sounds like a recipe for success.

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5 Steps to Getting the Resources You Need to Lead in a Flat World
By Aparna Suresh
President - Organic Organization Development, llc

In an increasingly flatter world, cultural intelligence has become a critical leadership competency as cultural diversity plays an increasingly bigger role in business. Pittsburgh hosting the G-20 last September and President Obama hosting India's Prime Minister for his first state dinner has brought home just how important it is for leaders to know how to lead across cultures. If you're a business leader tasked with leading a culturally diverse workforce or negotiating/collaborating with business leaders from other countries or cultures, here are 5 steps you can take right now to get the resources you need to lead more effectively across cultures:

  1. First, know where you're coming from. We all have our own worldviews which are driven by the cultural values we acquire through family, school and the societies that shape us. These cultural values shape our behavior day in and day out. Have trouble believing this? The next time you crack a joke at a meeting keep in mind that humor is used in the workplace primarily in Anglo cultures like the U.S., U.K. and Australia, and would be considered no joking matter (pun intended) in a country like Germany where it would be considered frivolous.
  2. Acknowledge that you probably have a long way to go. While America has often been described as a melting pot of different cultures, it�s also famous for being very insular about other countries and cultures. Pittsburgh in particular is known for having a highly homogeneous population that is relatively resistant to multi-cultural influence. In plain English, this means that diversity studies show that it's more difficult for minorities to make a mark in Pittsburgh. This doesn't mean that Pittsburgh can't change, just that it will take more effort to get there.
  3. Next, know where you want to be. Decide on the business outcomes you're looking for in terms of the business value you want to generate through using cultural intelligence. Do want to improve productivity through better multi-cultural employee communication and engagement, foster innovation through leveraging diversity, or know how to approach a negotiation to clinch a deal with your counterpart in another country?
  4. Now that you've defined the potential business values/outcomes you're in a position to build the business case for the initiatives you need to implement to lead with cultural intelligence. This is vital to get buy-in for the commitment and resources you will need to implement the initiative you're proposing, such as a multi-cultural leadership development program to give your managers the perspective and skills they need to effectively engage a multi-cultural workforce, or collaborate/negotiate effectively with their counterparts around the world.
  5. Finally, tap the right expertise to effectively implement your initiative. The person you hire to implement your initiative should have actually lived and worked in other countries and cultures. All too often I've encountered diversity consultants from the mainstream country/culture who have never needed to practice what they preach, because they have never had to really live and adapt to another culture in order to survive and thrive in the long run. You need to get someone who has walked their talk.
  6. Aparna Suresh is a leadership and diversity consultant who enables business leaders to lead across cultures and shatter glass ceilings. You can learn more about Aparna�s unique career journey from being a member of that rare species, a female engineer who has worked for Fortune 500 companies in Asia, Europe & North America, to a leadership and diversity consultant at www.OrganicOD.com.

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