While it might feel a bit like planning your funeral before you have died, a solid talent management program makes everything much easier for the people that are left behind. But far more importantly, it makes life much easier for you.
There are many reasons for this.
For one, if you are a leader exiting the organization because of better prospects, leaving without a good talent management plan in place would be bad for your track record. If you’re a senior professional, the way you leave speaks volumes about your work ethic, and if you’re in sales or marketing – well, the results will speak for themselves.
The thing is, as a business practice, talent management is relatively young and rapidly growing. Aspects of talent management have existed in organizations for years, but it is only really since the end of the last millennium that we have brought thoughts about recruiting, retention, engagement, succession planning, and leadership development together and discussed them in terms of talent management.
It’s gained much traction in the business marketplace; organizationally, having a strong grasp of talent in the organization and being able to use talents appropriately will differentiate strong companies from their competitors. It also means that the organization is committed to growing and being sustainable beyond the reach of leadership that is currently in place.
Organizations recognize that they do better business when their people are engaged, motivated, and yes, talented. Having the right people in place at the right time is a key aspect to continued growth, success, or even just stability.
Boards and companies that fail to assign high priority to succession planning and leadership development will see a steady attrition in leadership candidates or may retain people with outdated skill sets. Successful companies, in terms of talent management, don’t just make a commitment to a process; they embed it in their strategic plan.
Think about Apple as a prime example. When they let go of Jobs the first time, a plan was not in place. While they trotted along, they weren’t doing too great either. But when news came of Jobs’ illness, a talent development program was quickly put in place – several key personnel were identified and the process of preparing them began – even if only one was to be selected when the time came.
Today, Tim Cook has been successful in keeping Apple in the higher tiers as industry players, although the Jobs magic may not be there – but no one is really expecting him to replace Jobs, only that he keeps the results coming.
And that’s the thing.
“From the board of directors downward, talent management programs are integrated so that senior executives, middle managers, and front line supervisors are all involved. These key people are evaluated specifically for their contributions to organization-wide efforts.”
In your own organizzation, the best way to understand this is to think in terms of risk management, where the issues surrounding talent management are amplified in terms of loss. When the head or senior managers of your company are lost, then the stability of your company falters.
If this is hard to imagine, think of the numbers of people and companies that would be impacted following a major natural disaster, say an earthquake or a tsunami. If there is no one available to step in and take over, then there really is no one guiding the organization.
This is because the reality is that while most companies can function short-term with someone out of a key position (say for a surgery or short-term illness), most companies cannot sustain a longer-term loss, unless there is a ready individual waiting in the wings.
So what would be the solution then, and how would we really prepare a talent management program in that sense?
One answer would be to start with the Shared Management Model.
The Shared Management Model takes the whole load off the supervisor/manager and divides it between them and the employees. Supervisors/managers can and must prepare the employee, through teaching, training, coaching, counseling, and supporting. The employee’s work must be evaluated after it is done, to determine if it meets expectations. However, ultimately, it is the employee’s responsibility to do the task.
In the Shared Management Model an important member of the organization’s team is highlighted—the employee! This model demands that you, the supervisor/manager, focus on the growth and development of your employees, so that they can manage their own performance.
In essence, one of a manager’s/supervisor’s roles is to make sure everyone knows what a good job is, and what the employee needs to do in order to be more successful than they already are. Identifying performance competencies and setting goals or targets is one of the best ways to accomplish this.
This binds a person to a standard of performance and the results that are expected. If individuals don’t know what a good job is, nor what they must do to become more successful, they are unable to do anything different, or to channel their energies to improve personal performance.
There are other ways to build on this too; bringing in a trainer or consultant can be valuable in this process, as outside eyes will be able to see much more clearly than eyes from within.