Blueprint for a Talent Management Program
Assessment timing Talent management begins with identifying employees who have the potential to succeed in general management jobs. The best
practice is to assess people early and often. At least by the time employees have moved one step up from that of individual
contributor (at the level of a regional manager, for example), managers should have a solid idea of their potential and aspirations.
This is the time to forge a plan for the employee's development needs. The company must begin reshaping the employee's future
before it reinforces behaviors that undermine the traits required in senior management. It is easier to mold the thinking
of someone five years, rather than fifteen years, into a career, particularly if the employee already has been rewarded for
the traits management hopes to change.
Assessment elements It is clear what qualities the budding general manager needs:
- High intellect, especially pattern recognition and problem-solving skills
- High emotional intelligence (EQ), especially the ability to handle ambiguity when working in groups, a sense of self-awareness
and self-management, and a broad curiosity about the world, including an appetite for learning.
- A repertoire of managerial styles. Studies by the Hay Group suggest that people in senior management roles need to possess
at least three of the six managerial approaches. They must be comfortable with three of the following styles: entrepreneurial,
coaching, pace-setting, visionary, democratic, and directive. It does not matter which three, although the directive style
is the least desirable. The important thing is to adapt the management style to different management circumstances.
- Motivated by others' success. Managers must gain satisfaction from seeing others succeed. In the example of Mark , he derived
too much personal satisfaction from task completion and was unable to make the shift to being satisfied with others' accomplishments.
- Values in tune with those of the organization.
Feedback and managing expectations Employees deserve an early reading on the gaps in their competencies. They have a right to understand what job experiences,
training, and coaching their employer will provide to enhance their careers.
At the same time, managers must use great sensitivity and diplomacy when deciding just how candid to be with employees. While
it is unfair and often premature to write off a young performer as one who never will make it to the top, it also is unwise
to lead employees on with false hopes. Giving people early and realistic previews of various senior jobs helps employees self
select. Some individuals may not desire the tricky balance of work and life, the heavy responsibilities and occasional headaches
that accompany senior management status.
Seasoning executives Talent management programs aim to guide those with the highest potential along an accelerated path. But the company cannot
merely create a development plan, provide a coach, and arrange some training. Again, in the example of Mark, he lacked a foundation
of experiences that prepared him to operate in the senior management environment. Managers must move people around the organization
consciously to give them the necessary breadth of experience.
At each stage along the way, as managers develop their high-potential performers, they must consider carefully the match between
an individual's talents and his or her next role in the organization. Before moving someone into a new role, it is important
to understand what, beyond the technical skills, is required for success in the new job. How much accountability is required?
Is it strategic or tactical? How does it affect business results? Equally important, what is the context of the job within
the organization? How will the new role interact with other areas? What formal and informal relationships are needed? How
are results achieved?
Even as they assess roles, managers must learn more about the people they are developing. Have they served in operational
leadership roles? Advisory roles? Collaborative roles in a matrixed organization? What competencies have they relied on
to be successful? Which ones do they lack?