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.

My Lessons from the The Go-Giver – and why Millenials are way ahead . . .

I do not do a lot of book reviews in this blog, but I just completed The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann.  First, let me say that I resisted reading this book until three different people that I highly respect recommended it.  The following entry was inspired by the thoughts this book generated.

Why did I start a business?  How do I measure my success?  

When hearing a story of success we often focus on the opportunity presented to make money.  Sometimes a genius (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs) or sometimes an ordinary person (look at the people around your town) see an opportunity to fill a need in the market and turn it into successful business.  We call them entrepreneurs.  In our history as a country, many of our super wealthy focused solely on building their wealth, and became socially concious later in their lives when the “What is my legacy?” question started swirling in their mind.  We should celebrate their conversion, but recognize that they did not start their business with that as a priority.  The Go-Giver fundamentally challenges the notion that giving comes after success.

The Go-Giver generated two questions for me that have been rolling around in my head. 

  • Who (or whom) do you serve?
  • How do you/will you measure success?

I think of some young entrepreneurs I have met recently and they don’t necessarily think of these questions because their answers are already woven into the fabric of their life and business.

For anyone over 35ish, remember there is a generation behind us that has these questions as part of their fabric.  They have experienced  the fragile nature of life (9/11), the uncertainty of employment (2 major economic downturns in 10 years), and the ability to build meaningful relationships with a keyboard (internet).    I wonder how a millenial would view this book?

Worth the read, but don’t do it alone.  Find a partner, with the goal of writing two question that it generates for you.  Then spend your time together trying to answer them.

Leadership and Followership: A simple habit around Building Trust

I teach a class that brings leaders and followers into a room and they learn about great leadership and followership together.  During a class a couple of weeks ago, when we were talking about Building Trust, I asked the following questions:

Followers:  What do you think the leaders need from you to Build Trust?

Leaders:  What do you need from your followers in the area of Build Trust?

The general answers from the followers (on what leaders needed from them to Build Trust) leaned towards work getting done.  Statements were made like “Doing what you say you will do” and “Following through on your work”.

When I asked the leaders a similar question, the first answer was from someone new to leadership.  He raised his hand and said “Telling me that I am doing things well, along with letting me know what I am doing wrong.”

It is in moments like these that both sides of the performance equation realize they do not always understand each other. 

It is in these moments that just a little sharing helps us understand what we need to provide to others to help them be successful.

Followers:  What if you committed once a week to seek out your leader and ask them “What do you need from me this week?

Leaders:  What if you did the same, and said thank you when you saw your people looking out for you.

Initiatives become necessary because we forget about simple habits that help create success for people and teams.  Commit to this simple habit.

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.

Finally Friday! – Why it is the best day to connect with your people

Friday’s are great days.  As you look out in your office everyone has expectations of the coming two days that will tell you a lot about where they are in life.  Here are a few messages you might hear and what they actually are telling you that is significant to know about them:

  1. “It will be great to get out of here” says – I have worked hard all week and it is a nice break.
  2. “It will be great to get out of here” says – This place is killing me and any time away is like gold.
  3. “I can’t wait to spend time with my family” says – I love work, but family time is important to me.
  4. “It will be quiet, the kids are with my ex” – It will be alone time to either do what I love or miss being connected with the significant people in my life.
  5. “Oh a little of this and a little of that.  What are you doing?” says – Usually you don’t care what I do outside of work.  So why ask now?
  6. “Nothing” says – Usually you don’t care about what I do outside of work.  So why ask now?

So what do you hear when you ask?  If what they are actually saying is unclear, why not ask another question to allow them to share a little more.

Listening on Friday does commit you to ask again on Monday to see how the weekend turned out.  Eventually the last #5 and #6 will go away.

What does your answer tell me about where you are?  Is it the same place you want to be next Friday? Happy Friday.

The Law of Leadership Transparency – 3 ways to apply it

 A business owner shared his survival story from the latest downturn.  When I asked him “What is different about your business now versus three years ago?” his answer made me step back.  He said “Now, my business comes before my people.”  He went on to explain when he hires he tells people up front that he is doing everything he can to keep them busy, but if the business drops off he will have to  send them home.  He also makes it clear that his best people, regardless of tenure, will be kept on as long as he can.

He learned the law of transparency, which is Be open and honest about things you want to face with someone if you expect/need them to help.  

Here are three ways to apply this law:

  • Performance discussion – If this does not feel like a conversation the law is not being applied.
  • Making a sacrifice to manage through a negative event – If people have to sacrifice then they need to know what is happening.
  • Recruiting – What is broken that this role needs to be fixed?  Say it and ask for the help before you offer the job.

Transparency can be taught, but it first has to be valued. 

Leaders who use it effectively are rewarded with trust and respect.

Get a Valentine’s Day Win

Cover of "For Men Only: A Straightforward...
Cover via Amazon

Each year billions of dollars are spent improving performance of individuals and teams at work.  It is important for everyone to learn and grow, and the pressure to perform is higher now than at any point in the last 20 years.

On Monday it is Valentine’s Day in America, so the performance pressure increases ten fold for anyone who is in a relationship.

Let me rescue you.  Especially you men.  My only caveat is that this advice is coming from someone who gave an amazing set of knives and a classic cookbook to his wife (then girlfriend) for their first Christmas. 

Just finished a book set by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn – One for men to better understand how women think (For Men Only) and one for women to better understand how men think (For Women Only).  Easy to read, <200 pages, entertaining, and amazingly accurate.  A worthwhile read and it will start some great conversations.  Include an IOU for a dinner/date night to talk about what you read and you are home free.

I just used those knives and cookbook tonight.  Why after 20 years am I still not vindicated? 🙂 

Development and growth is not just for work.

B players have lots of value – How to tap into it

*this is an excerpt from a frequent publication by The trU Group called trU Tips.  To view past topics click here.

What I’m hearing

A friend and mentor sent me this question “You’ve given advice on how to handle the strongest and weakest performers on a team, but what about the B players?”

What it means

First, let’s quickly define who the B players are: they’re the people who get the work done, have limited aspirations or potential to move higher in the organization, and likely have a nickname around an adjective like “Steady Eddy,” “Reliable Ruth” or “Dependable Dave.” Having these people around is priceless yet frustrating because they do their jobs but often aren’t looking for more work.

We hide people in this category, so just saying “B player” is often misleading. A client described a person on his team who was solid, knowledgeable and dependable — and everyone in the office was afraid of her (including her boss) because she was also domineering and abrasive. Yet she was a solid performer in his eyes. We HIDE too many people in the “B” area because they are “valuable” or “knowledgeable,” all while creating fear in peers and negatively impacting the team. So I would expand the definition of “B player” into three categories:

  • B-plus: Content in their current roles but willing to share their vast knowledge to mentor new people. They contribute to teams looking to innovate and optimize what work is being done.
  • B: Solid contributors who are not interested in or capable of growing others at this point in their careers. They generally build positive relationships with teammates and consistently get things done.
  • B-minus: Solid to exceptional contributors who get the work done but build few, if any, positive relationships with people around them. They do not cultivate expertise in the group, but give direction instead.

What you should do

People need to hear the truth, and the performance evaluation process is the perfect place to challenge B players — who likely comprise 50 to 60 percent of your workforce — but in a different way than you would A or C players. Don’t rewrite your form, but include the following items as post-it addendums if needed:

  1. Three to five things you see them doing extremely well.
  2. A list of adjectives that come to mind when thinking about what they accomplish but how they accomplish it. Include words that describe how others perceive them.
  3. One request, in the form of a goal, that they could accomplish that would help the overall strength of the team —mentoring, permanently fixing a process, cultivating a key customer relationship, etc.

That third item can provide you with an opportunity to divide your B players up a little and challenge them to move the team forward.

B and B-plus players have a place on the team. They have ideas, and may respond to challenges in a way that will surprise you. Those who fall into the B-minus category have to be put on notice, and as the leader you need to be bold enough to have that conversation.

Want to hear more?  View the video supplement on YouTube.