Talent Reviews – The Good, The Bad, The Buzzword
August 24, 2011
In today’s workforce, it is highly likely that two buzz words you will hear include “Succession Planning” and “Talent Review”. There are ultimately a couple of reasons you will hear these two words:
1. Because organizations today are recognizing that developing employees and identifying successors are important
2. Organizations are simply partaking to jump on the next buzz word bandwagon with so many others
Depending on how your organization falls – interested in growing talent or jumping on the buzzword bandwagon – will either produce a positive or negative perception amongst employees.
Wait. How can succession planning be negative? It can happen – here is how:
1. Employees have heard development, succession planning, or talent review in the past and nothing was done then so what changes it now
2. Employees haven’t been developed – when inquiring about opportunities for development, no response was provided or the organization doesn’t hold its end of the bargain
3. Development is not equalized for all successfully performing employees
4. Development plans were created because it was the hot topic for the year, but were forgotten about four to six months down the road
5. Perception is that only upper-level management is provided the opportunity for promotion or development
One could ask themselves if this could really be, except the reality is that organizations have more often than not demonstrated their take on succession planning or development based on the examples above. This is a result of development or succession planning being something great to talk about, but fails in the execution stage.
Therefore, could this fail have been resolved by gaining buy-in from the top? Not always. In many cases, the top has bought in – or they are partaking on the next buzz word bandwagon – and they interpreted the initiative as being something optional versus necessary and mandatory.
So, how can you make succession planning and talent review positive – even in instances where they have failed before?
Starting a new initiative or making up for a failed initiative is never easy, but it is not impossible – it just requires work, time, honesty, communication, and accountability.
• Work – like any initiative in an organization – new or existing – it takes work. Slapping a band-aid on something or creating a haphazard solution will more likely result in detriment. Therefore, take the time to research the succession planning/talent review process. Not every organization will be the same, as some will operate on a 20-box, while others operate on a 9-box. Having a trained professional that understands the succession planning and talent review process is, in my opinion, a must. Whether it is a one-person show or an entire Organizational Development department dedicated to project, knowledge and experience are key to ensure the process is successful
• Time – the succession planning/talent review process is not something that occurs in a day. In fact, discussions regarding talent can take weeks or even months. Again keep in mind, quickly moving through the process to simply finish can lead to misalignment or a failed process. In this instance, time is your friend.
• Honesty – completing the process of a talent review can be difficult for some managers and easy for others. However, a crucial component that must be present at all times is honesty. Misaligning employees or modifying true performance numbers to protect employees impedes the process. Remember, this is to identify successors. If someone is not a successful performer, they certainly shouldn’t be identified as someone that is ready to be promoted by two levels.
• Communication – isn’t communication important in any aspect of life? It is even more important when it comes to discussing development and succession planning with your employees. Depending on the organization, you may be able to discuss with the employee where they fall within the talent review box. Some organizations embrace a culture that allows them to have open performance and succession planning conversations to the point the employee knows where they reside in the box. Yet, many organizations are not ready to let it be known where people reside in the box (by practice, culture, or a combination of both). If your organization is not, no biggy.
If your organization is not in the position to discuss everything regarding performance and the talent review process, this is where work, time, honesty, and communication all come into place even more! Particularly in situations where employees have heard about development, succession planning, or talent review for the past four years and did not see progress. You essentially have to persuade someone that it is different now not just through words, but through demonstration.
1. As a manager, you have to work with the employee to understand their career/life/organization goals.
2. Dedicate the time with the employee work on an individual development plan to develop the needed skills or knowledge to begin to meet those career/life/organization goals.
3. Honesty is key and realistic. Develop an open, honesty relationship to create a trust between you and the employee. They in turn will see you are serious and invested in their development, which in turn should improve employee engagement and productivity
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. When an employee feels information is being withheld purposely, this creates mistrust. If the situation presents itself where you cannot provide all the details, be honest about it. The employee may not like that everything cannot be laid out on the table, but they will appreciate your communication and honesty.
Accountability – finally, the last component involved with the succession planning, development, talent review process. Accountability is needed because this is what keeps everything in perspective and on-track. Accountability starts from the top down, spreads across the organization, and is required of everyone – even the CEO. No one should be different.
If I have to do it, so should you. This is how you begin to change and drive the culture to encourage people to want to grow and get excited about opportunities to grow within the organization.
So the next time you hear someone mention succession planning or talent review either in your organization, an association group, or amongst peers, understand whether or not this process is being explored:
1. Because the organization recognizes that developing employees and identifying successors are important
2. Because the organization simply wants to partake so as to jump on the next buzz word bandwagon
Today’s guest post is from Chris Ponder of Xtreme HR fame. He’s also started a new blog called Performance I Create in anticipation of getting a Ph.D. in human performance one day (I have tried to talk him out of it). As if all of this thought leadership stuff wasn’t enough, Chris also lives in Memphis, home of the best smelling airport in the world. Thanks for a great post Chris!
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