The War for Talent – are you grooming management talent?

One of the overriding problems faced by companies is that they struggle to effectively develop talent for the conditions prevalent in the 21st Century. By trying to avoid potential discrimination claims they utilise a one size fits all leadership style; therefore, running the risk of stifling innovation, and disengaging talented employees. Judith Germain, discusses whether employees should be groomed for management responsibilities.

Despite McKinsey's War on Talent 1997 report and further discussions and angst on the subject, talent management in all its guises are still a strategic priority for many companies across numerous industries. It feels as if, nothing has changed, other than the available pool of talented people is continuously shrinking regardless of the fact that unemployment is at a four-decade low.

One of the dilemmas facing HR Directors today is whether they should a) groom employees from the beginning or whether they should b) allow the employee to feel their own way into management positions, or c) hire talented managers when they need them, therefore disregarding their current employees and their career aspirations.

The company’s talent management/succession plan will be decided based on the conclusion that they reach. It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of the company can depend on the position that the HR Director takes. It cannot be underestimated the impact that this will have on Millennials and their willingness to work for an organisation beyond the current average 2 year cycle.

Where do leadership capabilities come from?

 A common question is ‘are leaders born or are they made?’ In my book, The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders, I explain that the best leaders utilise the Maverick KEYSTONE Capabilities™ as an important foundation stone to their success.

Maverick KEYSTONE capabilities (TM) Therefore, my belief is that leadership skills and techniques can be learnt, transforming a poor manager into a good leader. The success of this transformation will be dependent on the manager’s desire to change and the company’s ability to actively want to implement the right strategies to enable this transformation.

Great leaders, especially those with maverick tendencies, have been exposed to leadership concepts that they practice and demonstrate from early childhood. This early experience enables them to become great leaders in the workplace years later.

HR Directors can and should, design their performance reviews and training interventions to nurture or further develop these ‘early learnt’ competencies. Leadership ability does not happen by chance, it takes the active participation of both the employee and their employers to provide and utilise the environment and opportunities for active growth.

I believe that leadership can be viewed as ‘trusted influence’, that has its basis in the credibility and reputation of the leader.  The leader requires the trust and goodwill of his team to function well and that can only be secured if he has integrity and is able to utilise the Maverick DRIVEN Leadership™ methodology.

On the basis that employees remain loyal to individuals not the company, it’s imperative that good leadership is demonstrated throughout the organisation. True leadership demands that talent is nurtured so that the company is able to fulfil its objectives and that talent is dispersed throughout the company. Both these concepts require the employee to have a persona that has high reputational value and a character that is ‘trusted’ and influential.

Grooming for management responsibilities?

In this changeable climate there is a requirement for workforces to be flexible and companies to be agile to survive. Therefore companies should be encouraging leadership competences in all its employees.  The ability to think for themselves, make decisions that are perhaps beyond ‘their pay level’, developing into lateral thinkers with the confidence to challenge the status quo, soon becomes a survival imperative. Demonstrating Maverick KEYSTONE Capabilities™ then becomes the norm within the company with performance reviews and reward systems based, in part, on leadership competencies.

All employees should be provided with plenty of opportunities to develop their Maverick KEYSTONE Capabilities™ in their normal day to day work. Talent Management strategies should groom all employees for management responsibilities, self leadership and self determination can bring depth to job roles and pride in one’s abilities.  This is particularly important in environments where flat structures can inhibit upwards movement and economic climate can depress salary increments.

By establishing an environment where (self) leadership development is the norm, it is easier and cost effective to identify those with management potential. It has the additional benefit of continuously improving the agility and competence of the company as a whole making it more likely for it to reach growth and financial targets.

Real leaders have a good understanding of the factors that underpin effective leadership. For example, in my book, The Maverick Paradox: The Secret Power Behind Successful Leaders, I explain that successful leaders are able to (amongst other things), utilise the KEYSTONE™ capabilities, have strong emotional awareness, and understand how to utilise power effectively to influence others.

Performance reviews and reward structures should be designed to nurture and develop these capabilities, thus allowing those with management potential to be easily seen by management (for further development) and enable them to identify themselves as future managers. This is more effective than just following a strategy that requires individuals to feel their own way into management.

How can HR directors spot and develop potential managers without alienating the other members of the workforce?

If the company’s strategy is to nurture talent within its workforce by encouraging all employees to develop leadership capabilities, amongst other task specific skills, employees are less likely to resent the company developing others. This is especially true where reward strategies are transparent and fair to all.

Employees that demonstrate the ability to influence and motivate others, and knowledge of human behaviour to effect better performance, should be identified for potential management. This can be affected by one-to-ones with their managers, performance reviews and succession plans.

Development can include coaching, mentoring and bespoke leadership courses designed specifically to fulfil the leadership deficit of the individuals. This should not be at the detriment to more general training interventions for the rest of the workforce.

HR Directors should ensure that all employees are encouraged to develop leadership capabilities, thus creating a richer pool of talent, allowing the identification of those that have management potential to be simpler and more effective.

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