Monday, February 26, 2007

To all ye Managers and Leaders—Part 2

As early as in 1998, a McKinsey research survey (War for Talent) claimed that a company can attract and retain the right people only when
# talent management is put as a corporate priority
# there is a unique employee value proposition and
# The management can well explain why a smart and talented individual would work for them rather than the one next door.
And the primary key to keeping the good people is a constant initiative to develop and develop them further.

Companies which are so particular about their ‘hard’ results in financials and assets, do not look at their most vulnerable resource—their people!

According to HR Institute, a leading not-for-profit, a good worker-supervisor relationship is the primary reason behind retention. Companies which tolerate underperforming people, especially under-performing bosses, pay the greatest price. Sub-par managers drive talent away from the company and also pre-empt positions which could have been used as development opportunities. McKinsey’s War for Talent, 2000, survey of 6500 senior and middle level managers in 35 large US companies noted the following as the significant ways that an underperforming manager affects the career of people
# Impediment to learning
# Hurting career development
# Impediment in creating a larger contribution to the bottom line; and finally
# Making them leave the company.
The finding of this survey resonates Jim Collins’ idea quoted in my previous post.

I have left positions with previous employers because I have found the mentoring relationship with my supervisor meaningless and have failed to see any value for my career and individual development in spite of being nominated to organization wide leadership development initiatives which seemed more of window-dressing than anything serious.

Most employees look for meaningful work, feedback and recognition apart from a good working relationship with the team and the supervisor. While most managers do the day-to-day supervision regularly, they do not do the rest of the managerial role.
They need to ‘engage’ employees by showing the big picture, there is always a feeling ‘Aha!’ when my work is connected clearly to the company’s vision and objectives. Good managers also discuss career development options proactively with the employees. They advocate learning opportunities and develop an employee’s strengths and skill sets with a long term goal.
Stretch assignments are a key mode of adult learning so often a manager, who matches the right employee to the stretch projects available, becomes a winning retention manager!
Sensitivity to diversity among employees is another major factor. In India, we have always lived in a community of diversity but it is shocking to find the stereotypical thought impressions we carry about others and hence unconsciously get guided in our behaviour.

The common pitfalls are a plenty
# Often managers lose the long term view and push people for short term goals which not only affect the commitment levels of employees but also fail to take the talent pool to the next level. # Often ‘High-fliers’ are identified subjectively because they reflect something that a manager sees in him or herself.
# Also at times organizations/managers use a single method for assessing/identifying talent potential among people which gives a limited view. Talent management initiatives exist as islands within the company or in one-off processes which do not bear any fruit.
# The Senior Management should be clear on its motives behind the entire talent management strategy. It should not be to play up to the gallery of media, analysts, investors etc.

Retention initiatives maybe expanded to Transitioning processes. While there may not be scope for vertical growth all the time, our age old job enrichment processes come to play in terms of expanding an employee’s role. Stretch assignments are quite popular as an intervention at this stage.
Effective managers network with each other to share and transfer talent across businesses and geographies. A talented employee usually has competencies that can be of value across different buckets of the organizations and it also keeps the employee in the learning loop thereby helping in employee engagement and retention.
Great managers also know when to ‘let go’ and end the working relationship. They manage the exit well to learn why the employee is leaving and what could have been done differently in the earlier stages of the employee life cycle in the organization.

A Towers Perrin survey on Talent Management in 2005 revealed that
1. Most respondent companies believe that they are not providing enough support to their managers to play their role as talent managers effectively.
2. Respondents do not generally believe that their HR organizations are equipped to partner with the line especially in areas connected to data and measurement for decision making.

These are disturbing findings especially if one looks at the scenario today in 2007 when there is an essential dearth of skilled workers as well as qualified managers accompanied by an ageing workforce across the world and Generation Y-ers (those born after 1980) requiring skilled supervision to be productive.

Talent Management: The State of the Art, 2005, Towers Perrin HR Services
Managers as Talent Leaders by Catherine J Rezak, Paradigm Learning, Florida, USA
War for Talent, Part Two, The McKinsey Quarterly, 2001, Number 2

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