September 2015

Talent Management Derailers
Effective strategic talent management practices can have an affect on business performance.  However, there are plenty of potential pitfalls that can derail the best succession management, leadership development and culture improvement efforts.  Here's are the top 5 of the the more common one's I've run into over the years.

Not in My House:  Functional managers protect talent that reports to them, see them as "their employees" and do not offer them as candidates for advancement or development opportunities.  They may even get upset if other managers talk to "their people" about opportunities.  As a result, t alent pools are limited and do not reflect the real bench strength of the organization.  Agile, high potential and high professional talent becomes frustrated and leaves the company.  Alternatively, their careers may derail due to over-reliance on a single benefactor. 

Lists for Lists Sake: Completing talent discussions just to have a succession plan or back-up list. 
The Impact? The actual hit rate on back-up lists is typically only about 15%, contributing little to improving organization capability and providing a low return for this effort.  The true capability of the total organization to achieve strategic targets is not assessed or improved.  In addition, High Professional (as opposed to High Potential) talent, critical to maintaining a company's core competencies, is overlooked and may become disengaged. In addition, a large pool of talent that is often "under the radar" but has significant potential to grow is overlooked.

Take a Pill:  Development of high potential talent is limited to "take a training class" rather then meaningful assignments or broader-based development.   Talent is slowly developed or not developed at all.  High Potential and High Professional employees get frustrated by a lack of challenging work and growth opportunities.  Training budgets are usually "fickle" so development can be erratic if training is over-emphasized.  The return on training investment is not realized. 

Nothing Gained A lack of or inconsistent follow-up on organization development action items from talent discussions.  As a result, t he long-term capability of the organization is not improved.  Initial momentum for the process is eventually lost.  Employees see a varying level of support for the process and wonder what's happening.  Key talent may be come frustrated because the only hear words and see no action.


Resurrection is Much Harder Than Birth:  Spending too much time and resources on blocked, low learning agile, low potential employees, trying to fix them.  The overall capacity of the organization to grow is hampered.  A Return on Improved Performance is not realized because the investment is going to those with a very low chance of improvement.  High potential talent becomes frustrated and leaves.

So what to do if your company is infected by some of these derailers?  You can check out some potential remedies or preventive measures by going to  Talent Management Derailers .  The whitepaper also identifies 7 other potential derailers and remedies.
 You can also Stop by my Blog to join the conversation on Strategic Talent Management. 
Culture Change Levers

Organization Culture is a hot topic.  I am working with several clients who see culture as a source of competitive advantage and a driver of their future growth.  This is not just an example of the "next shiny object" syndrome because there's plenty of research to back up their interest.

I typically start a culture change process by assessing the current state and identifying the high-impact culture factors that the company can address in the next 12 to 18 months.  Then comes the hard part - figuring out which change "levers" the company can pull to create meaningful culture movement.  In my experience, there are three key levers.

1. Communications
This does not entail just writing an article in the company newsletter.  It starts by clearly identifying the business case for culture change and the vision of where the top leadership wants to take the organization.  This lever requires answering questions like why should we change, what do we want to change to and how we'll know when we've arrived?.  This should be conducted through in-depth dialogues with the organization's top leaders who must internalize the answers and commit to moving forward.  The business case and vision can then be built into a stakeholder analysis and multi-media communication plan.

2. Talent
A significant lever for culture change lies in the behaviors of leaders.  Much of what makes up culture is created and sustained by the abilities and actions of key leaders.  Therefore, identifying culture-critical leadership competencies, assessing current leader capability and developing leadership skills directly linked to culture is key to any change initiative.  It may also involve the tough work of identifying "poison pill" leaders who are resistant to change and therefore have to be moved out of the way. 

3. A Plan
Culture change is hard work (but with a big payoff). Change doesn't happen automatically even if you have a great business case and top-notch leaders.  The plan starts with the one or two culture factors the organization is going to address at any one time.  Then project management kicks in.  Detailed action plans need to be established with time frames, accountability, resources, and contingencies.  In addition, tracking and measurement processes need to be developed and implemented.

You can learn more about culture by checking out my whitepaper  Leveraging Culture to Drive Business Performance.

If your organization is interested in learning more about culture or is considering undertaking a culture change journey, I would be glad to offer a no-obligation overview for your top leaders.   

What Are You Up to?

HR's Role in Strategy Execution

Presentation at the Pennsylvania State SHRM Conference

September 24

State College, PA 

Image Map