The right fit_april_2011


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Axiom colleague Juan Pablo Gonzalez in Workspan magazine shares ideas for aligning strategy, organization and talent to drive business results.

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The right fit_april_2011

  1. 1. 4 | 11 ® The Magazine of WorldatWork © TheRight Fit The Importance of Talent in Creating Alignment and Driving Results By Juan Pablo González, Axiom Consulting Partners To create With rapid developments and shifts in shockproof the economy, technology and customer businesses, expectations, businesses — even those widely regarded as successful — are leaders must be often only one shock away from failure. diligent in how Leaders spend countless hours trying they manage to derive the perfect business strategy talent and execute or organization design, only to be a shockproof thrown off-kilter by an unanticipated approach. change. When faced with a crisis that puts a business in peril, some leaders make the mistake of turning to quick- fix solutions, such as downsizing, eDItOr’S nOte This is an excerpt from Shockproof: How to Hardwire Your Business for Lasting Success.Contents © WorldatWork 2011. WorldatWork members and educational institutions may print 1 to 24 copies of any WorldatWork-published article for personal, non-commercial,one-time use only. To order 25 or more print presentation-ready copies, or an electronic copy for distribution to colleagues, clients or customers, contact Gail Hallman, at Sheridan Press, 717-632-3535, ext. 8175. To order full copies of WorldatWork publications, contact WorldatWork Customer Relationship Services,, 877-951-9191.
  2. 2. divestiture, hiring a “savior” leader or and rewarding talent in helping organiza- most valuable. In some cases, the bestoverinvesting in the latest flavor-of-the tions maintain alignment among talent, candidates may have a great deal inmonth management consulting fad. strategy and organization. common with current staff. In others, To succeed, leaders need to focus on To create shockproof businesses, it’s just the opposite.aligning business strategy, organiza- leaders must be diligent in how they 2. Talent deployment: Placingtion and talent so their organizations manage talent and execute a shock- the right people in the right jobs isare more resilient. This point was proof approach, composed of the a hallmark of shockproof organiza-proven by the authors’ interviews with following four critical elements. tions. These businesses maintain amore than 50 executives from leading 1. Talent acquisition: The right thorough understanding of the talentpublic and private companies for the approach for talent acquisition is they have and the talent they Shockproof: How to Hardwire Your specific to your business and very They have a clear sense of the rela-Business for Lasting Success. The book’s much a function of the talent you seek. tive value of key positions, and makepremise is that by aligning strategy, Unfortunately, many organizations sure that they assign their best talentorganization and talent (see Figure 1), gloss over this point and treat talent to the jobs that have the greatestHR leaders and other executives can acquisition as nothing more than impact. By segmenting their talentprepare their businesses to better filling open job requisitions as fast as the way many businesses segmentwithstand changes in their environ- they can. This approach often results in their customers, these organizationsment (i.e., “shocks”). This is in contrast mismatched talent and missed oppor- are smart about how they allocateto a more traditional approach where tunities to bring in people who can resources. Furthermore, realizingleaders seek to succeed through excel- take the business to the next level. that talent is always in flux, theylence in one or more of the three Excellence in talent acquisition continuously assess the alignmentalignment areas — for example, begins with determining what types of between their talent needs and theconducting the most thorough analysis roles, skills and people are required for talent they have on board. Leaders into devise the best strategy, creating success. Because talent is such a valu- talent deployment maintain detailedthe perfect organization design or able and important asset, and because talent inventories and compare theirjust getting the best people on the the cost of bad decisions is so high, company’s talent needs to both currentproverbial bus. However, prioritizing smart businesses conduct “make, buy and anticipated bench strength.alignment over these essential areas or rent” analyses to determine their Like a chess master, organizationsis the foundation of lasting success, talent requirements before beginning that excel in talent deployment thinkbecause most organizations are the recruitment process. They begin several moves ahead. They are delib-multifaceted and face continuous sourcing and evaluating candidates erate in staffing “feeder” roles to buildchange in their external and internal only after they have gained a clear bench strength to meet their expectedenvironments. Thus, trying to get sense of the skills, competencies, talent needs. This practice is evident init perfect fails to address the issue values and experience that will be organizations that hire employees intoof sustainability. rotational assignment programs, with This article takes a closer look at a key FIGURE 1: THE SHOCKPROOF MODEl the objective of teaching new recruitselement of alignment — talent — cour- the business prior to assigning themtesy of two excerpts from Shockproof. to permanent positions. Strategy 3. Talent development:FIRST ExCERPT: The Role of Talent Talent development represents aThe following workspan-exclusive excerpt tremendous opportunity for busi-explores what HR leaders and other nesses to protect and increase theexecutives can do (and have done) to align value of the talent they already have.strategy, organization and talent. In this leadership Often thought of as the work of thechapter from Shockproof, the role of human resources or training depart-talent in creating lasting success ments, talent development is an areais explored. Specifically, the chapter Organization Talent where leaders and employees can workillustrates the role of talent acquisition, together to make their organizationstalent deployment, talent development more shockproof.52 workspan 04/11
  3. 3. Talent and what it must do to succeed is continuously evolving. Changes inWhen leaders the economy, industry developments, regional trends, cultural evolution and new priorities within individual and employees businesses themselves will render even the highest-level performer obsolete if he or she doesn’t regularly hone the share accountability skills necessary to perform his or her job. Like typewriters, eight-track tape for developing talent, players and rotary-dial telephones, many of the things we once held dear are quick to lose their relevance. the result is much like what Employers and employees often look to talent development as the means happens when you hire a personal for renewing and recalibrating their capabilities. Those who do it well make trainer to improve performance. use of formal and informal learning opportunities and share accountability for results among key stakeholders. When employees take ownership of their careers and their development, and the companies they work for When leaders and employees share think of rewards as a paycheck, provide clarity regarding expectationsaccountability for developing talent, the shockproof organizations take a more and resources, the result is more mean-result is much like what happens when integrated view and include compen- ingful, more relevant hire a personal trainer or a tennis sation, benefits, culture, career and Organizations where this happens arecoach to improve performance. Practice work environment. These offerings better able to resist shocks becausebecomes more focused and deliberate, form the basis for what is sometimes they maintain alignment betweenand both student and coach have the termed an exchange relationship, in their business imperatives and thesame goal. The coach can’t exercise or which the employer offers rewards learning and preparation necessaryplay on behalf of his or her student, to its employees in exchange for to achieve results. Susan Peters, GE’sand the student must take personal their contributions to the employer’s chief learning officer, was quotedaccountability to improve his or her success. This view, which has been in BusinessWeek as saying that theperformance. Similarly, employees in persistent and evolving over the past company is “working on ‘21st century’shockproof organizations are clear about quarter century, lays a foundation for attributes.” The same article says thattheir objectives, know their strengths an emerging shockproof approach to John Lynch, senior vice president forand seek opportunities to learn rewards. (Author’s note: To learn more corporate human resources, believesand grow. They avail themselves of about the shockproof approach to rewards, that “the beauty of GE’s system is thaton-the-job learning opportunities, seek read “Renewable Rewards for Renewable it can be adapted rapidly to a shiftinginformal mentors, and make the most of Enterprises,” workspan, January 2010.) environment. Under [former chairmanperformance management and develop- and CEO John] Welch, for example, thement processes designed to help them SECOnD ExCERPT: The Power of prized skills were cost-cutting, effi-develop new skills and abilities. leadership Development ciency and deal making. Then [Jeffrey] 4. Rewarding talent: Rewards The following excerpt features a detailed Immelt came in, calling for risk-taking,often serve as the lens through which illustration of the success one company’s customer focus and innovation.”employees view their relationships division had in creating a leadership Hudson Australia/New Zealand haswith their employers or prospective development solution that is aligned with had notable success hardwiring busi-employers. Whereas many people strategy by design. ness imperatives through its leadership workspan 04/11 53
  4. 4. development programs, as well. A division of $700-million and using the same language and capabilities,” effectivelyprofessional staffing and talent management firm Hudson melting the “permafrost” Steyn had initially encountered.Highland Group Inc., this business named Mark Steyn Steyn’s “willingness to invest his own discretionary timepresident and CEO in 2008. Steyn had little experience and effort to be personally involved” in creating contentin the recruiting and talent management industry, so as stood out to Noon, and she believes that the leadershipa first step, he set about getting to know the business he team’s experience working together to create SmartBusi-had been charged to lead. According to Tracy Noon, Hudson ness helped them “get the various strands of strategy,Australia/New Zealand’s chief human resources officer, structure and people into alignment … which helped themSteyn returned from his travels and described what he see how things hang together in ways that are not alwaysinitially encountered as “permafrost” in his leadership evident at the ‘helicopter level.’”layers — the further he went down the organization, the What about the program participants for whom Smart-less alignment, understanding and support for the business Business was created? They were the ultimate beneficiariesstrategy. Steyn believed that to be successful, his leaders of Hudson’s efforts to link strategy development andneeded to be effective in “translating strategy into action strategy execution. In addition to working in an increas-at the ground level,” and that “no matter how enthusiastic ingly well-aligned business, Noon reports that participantssenior and middle managers were about the strategy, they “said it was the most relevant, most useful ‘trainingwould not be able to do so” unless they built new capabilities. program’ they’d ever participated in. All of the feedback Faced with this challenge, Noon and Steyn applied a was extremely positive,” and Hudson is continuing toprogressive approach to building leaders’ capabilities. refine its program to keep it fresh and relevant to itsRather than just teaching them, they decided to engage Australia/New Zealand business.the organization’s top leaders in instituting a develop-ment program that they themselves would roll out to the Hardwiring Your Company for lasting Successorganizations they led. “It was a really good example of workspan readers — HR and total rewards leaders — areexperiential and action learning,” Noon said. “The benefits well positioned to help their organizations maximize thewere that these leaders had their own learning experience role of talent in aligning with organization and strategyin developing the content because it challenged them to to drive results. By partnering with line leaders in creatingrefine their ideas and decide what was really important.” effective solutions for talent acquisition, deployment,As the Hudson team developed the program’s content, development and rewards, they are uniquely positionedNoon says they “realized that [they] had to drive it deeper to help their organizations become shockproof.into the organization, to frontline supervisors” in orderto “get everyone speaking the same language and get the Portions excerpted with permission from the pub-business in synch.” lisher, John Wiley & Sons Inc., from Shockproof, The team developed this program using “real [Hudson] by Debra Jacobs, Garrett Sheridan and Juandata,” Noon said, rather than case examples, making the Pablo González. Copyright © 2010.learning more relevant both to the program designers, aswell as to the intended participants. And, they worked ABOut the AuthOrdiligently to refine their strategy and business model along Shockproof co-author Juan Pablo Gonzálezthe way. Building the curriculum — based on Hudson’s is based in Axiom Consulting Partners’SmartBusiness program, designed by the company’s Euro- Washington, D.C., office. He can be reachedpean leadership team — created an opportunity for leaders at come together and advance not only their understandingof the business, but their perspective on the future, too.Unlike many leadership development programs that are RESOURCES PLUSdesigned by human resources, the SmartBusiness curric-ulum was created by the leaders themselves — all the way For more information, books and education related to this topic, log on to and use any or all of these keywords:to the top. “What was really different about this was the • Business strategyengagement of the CEO and his team in developing and • Talent managementdesigning the content,” Noon said. The result, she said, was • Talent development.“all levels of leadership singing from the same hymn sheet workspan 04/11 55