Do we need a Talent Management Initiative? No . . . Part I

I created a Talent Scorecard to help leaders think through what they have been doing around connecting with their people to make sure they are focused, understanding their challenges, getting their needs met, and receiving feedback on their progress.  In the human resources world we call this talent management.  To most of the rest of the world this is called leadership, management, or friendship.

The first set of numbers shocked me.  Here they are and remember that I asked HR leaders to fill these out as if their CEO was doing this survey.  The only two measures are 100% and <100%, because those are they only two measures that matter.  100% means you are doing the right things.  <100% means that there is a person out there with a name, friends, bills to pay, skills/talents, and goals . . .  that is not getting their needs met.  These are basic needs.  Here are the numbers.

 Key Habits for Managing Talent

  100% <100%
I delivered all of the evaluations on time. 36.7 % 63.3 %
I have one-on-one discussions with each member of my staff at least once a month. 63.3 % 36.7%
I have reviewed all the evaluations of my team’s staff. 51.7 % 48.3 %
Each person on my team has a development plan. 27.6 % 72.4 %

Too many people are getting late evaluations and do not have any sort of development plans. 

Remember the Gallup Q12?  The first two questions are:  I know what is expected of me at work and I have the tools I need to do my job.  On-time performance conversations and frequent one on ones to hear progress, identify needs, and solve problems make these questions a reality.  The development plan is critical in getting people thinking about the future and helping them grow.

Based on these numbers, it is not happening enough.

For a quick look at a performance conversation tool/development plan that works see trUTips #13.

Words that make me go Hmmmm – Hold accountable

I read a letter to the editor in our local paper this morning that included the sentence . .

I urge parents of all children in the district to be activist parents and hold their public schools accountable for the quality of services their children are receiving.

Too often I see the word accountable held up as an initiative that is, in itself, the way to fix a business.  I then look for what words appear around it to suggest what else needs to be happening to build this accountability.  In this sentence you will see the words activist / hold / quality.  So what do you think will be the next step in the minds of the people reading this sentence?

Accountability is important in business, performance, and life – but the words around it are probably more important.

I will do more for you if I respect you and feel your commitment to helping me be successful.  I will perform better for you if I get a chance to share my thoughts or if I am invited to a team to solve a problem together.  Great teams have accountability, but they also have trust, a shared sense of commitment, and the willingness to listen, to forgive, and to fix. 

As a coach, clients will often express the accountability they feel knowing that I will ask the question “What has happened with your commitments since the last time we talked?”, which is good.  What I remind them is that there is lots of learning to happen in commitments that do not get done, and rather than feel guilty and view a coach as the accountability police, see me as a partner to explore, understand, and to solve.  Great accountability also has a element of safety.

Feel free to use the word accountability as a leader, but I challenge you to examine the words around it first.

Your voice is smiling

Recently I had the opportunity to share some good news with someone over the phone, and as I listened to their answer I could hear some added energy in their voice.  My comment back was “Your voice is smiling”.  The giggle (and it was a giggle!) on the other end of the line confirmed my suspicions.  It was a special moment.

Business puts us on the phone a lot.  As I listen to voices or the standard “I am not available to take your call right now . . . . . ” messages, too often I do not hear a smile.  Business can still get done without smiles, but the energy of a smile makes it feel different.

For you:

  • Record your message this morning while smiling, then listen to the replay.  Can you hear your smile?  What difference will it make with your people?  Your clients?
  • Start your next voice conference with a “Share some good news . . ” section.  Do you hear smiles?
  • When you hear a smile, use the same line I shared above.

As kids we played follow the leader purposefully, as adults we do it unconsciously, but we still do it. 

Today, try leading with a smile.

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Knowing Someone Changes How We Treat Them

I joined the board of a great organization that cares for seniors and at my orientation they shared this story.

In building a new facility display cases were placed by each room.  Filled with pictures and items for residents of adjacent rooms, they were meant as landmarks to make finding rooms easier.  This practice had proven effective even with dimentia cases.  They received a surprise.  Employees and others observed a higher quality of care because these residents became people with an 80+ year history that was known to all those around them.  In one case, it explained why a resident veteran who had been a POW tried to crawl out a window because of loud noises.  Instead of medicating the resident they provided comfort. 

History gives us context for current decisions we see people make.

When a friend acts irrational we know the history – and work through it.

What a stranger acts irrational we judge the action – and walk away or around it.

When we ask and listen it sends a powerful signal – we care.

Under stress, we too often forget to stop and listen to stories.  We see ourselve as busy.  Others see us as cold and uncaring.

Here is a tool I use to jumpstart the work relationship building process.  Instead waiting to hear the question “Tell me about yourself”, I give this info and ask for the same in return.  It is just a start, but it is a good start.

One last story . . . I used this tool to kickoff a planning session for a leadership team.  The next day the CEO called the HR leader and quietly asked for a list of names of all family members for each executive on his team.

Some things are important no matter how old we are.  Knowing someone changes how we treat them – and how they treat us.

4 Habits to Build, 1 Initiative to Avoid (#Retention)

In organizations, initiaves around people and talent happen because we allow good habits to go away.  Keep the key habits and you avoid most initiatives.  Let me give an example:

I am hearing lots about the latest Initiative —>  EMPLOYEE RETENTION

Big initiative: Employee Engagement

Great focus, but did anyone ever ask Why are we refocusing on this? Layoffs?  Maybe.  But let me offer you another perspective.

Have any of these HABITS left your organization in the last few years?

  1. Performance evaluations (if we can’t give raises why do them?)
  2. One on ones with staff (too busy?)
  3. Monthly check-ins with your most valuable people – how are they doing? what do they need? what do they want to be doing next year? (they know they are valuable – they still have a job don’t they?)
  4. Development plans for people – investing time in their areas of interest and preparing them for the future. (we cannot afford development right now

One more conversation that has stuck with me.  A CEO shared that they cannot afford leadership development right now, but it is in the list for next year.  Sounds like a great initiative.  

Of course there are some free habits laying around . .

A few more blogs around this:

Looking to Have an Engaged Workforce? . . . Don’t Forget the Turkey

~Yes!  Another Turkey!
Image by ~Sage~ via Flickr

An enlightened leader just told me a great story.  After experiencing 2 years of difficult times, a recent quarterly employee meeting was dedicated to looking to the future and celebrate furtunes starting to turn for the organization.  There were four parts to the presentation:  Vision/Strategy, Financials, Quality, and an HR update.  While the first three received polite attention, the last piece received thunderous applause.  Why?  Because the announcement was made that the holiday tradition of giving each employee a frozen turkey was back after a two-year absence. 

The learning?  Never underestimate the value of the little things.

The action?  Don’t go and add a turkey giveaway to your organizational traditions.  Do continue to focus on communicating to all levels of your organization.  But never underestimate the appreciation people have for the little things.  A personal thank you, an early quit to spend time with family, flowers to show concern or appreciation, or just a few extra minutes to learn some facts about someone beyond their name.

For a leader, casting vision, communicating priorities, updating people on where the company is financially, and sharing news from different parts of the business is important.  But also remember to hand out a few turkeys between powerpoint slides and annual reports.