Getting Hr To Hit Mark On Talent Management

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Coaching a performance problem, communicating performance standards and other tactical initiatives are the most common components of leadership development programs, according to a study by Novations Group, a global consulting organization based in Boston. The results make interesting reading for businesses as well as Execs.

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Getting Hr To Hit Mark On Talent Management

  1. 1. A survey of 2,500 Human Resources and Training Executives… Or, getting HR to hit mark on talent management BOSTON, May 6, 2006 — Coaching a performance problem, communicating performance standards and other tactical initiatives are the most common components of leadership development programs, according to a study by Novations Group, a global consulting organization based in Boston. What is the analysis of the survey data? And, most importantly, what is so unusual about the result? First, the survey question and the results from 2,500 HR respondents. Which of the following management situations or initiatives are addressed by your organization’s leadership development program (please select all that apply)? Coaching a performance problem 71.9% Communicating performance standards 69.1% Coaching a development opportunity 68.7% Conducting a performance appraisal 66.8% Handling conflict situations 65.9% Communicating vision and strategy 59.4% Selecting the right employee 58.1% Diversity & Inclusion 55.3% Gaining commitment to goals 49.3% Managing priorities 48.8% Change management 45.2% Acting on feedback 44.7% Teaching a skill & delegating responsibility 39.6% Influencing internal resources 34.6% Managing a virtual team 27.6% And why is this a curious result? This is interesting empirical data. The survey asked about leadership development programs – not management development programs. Why is a leadership development program focused on management activities and responsibilities? There are a couple of candidate explanations for the survey results. But first, from an empirical perspective – as understood by constituents – what is expected of leaders from follows? Consider leadership in terms of non-authoritarian leadership. That is,
  2. 2. what are the attributes of people (leaders) that constituencies will willingly follow. The key is the term “willingly follow“. This takes us beyond the sphere of hierarchical organizations into the realm of democratic political systems where constituency groups are not compelled to follow a leader. There is application to both organizational and political behavior. Th Kouzes-Posner Empirical Research on Leadership This is from James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner We began our research on what constituents expect of leaders more than twenty-five years ago by surveying thousands of business and government executives. We asked the following open-ended question: “What values, personal traits, or characteristics do you look for and admire in a leader? In response to that question, respondents identified several hundred different values, traits, and characteristics. Subsequent content analysis by several independent judges, followed by further empirical analyses, reduced these items to a list of twenty characteristics (each grouped with several synonyms for clarification and completeness). From this list of twenty characteristics, we developed a survey questionnaire called “Characteristics of Admired Leaders.” We’ve administered this questionnaire to over seventy-five thousand people around the globe, and we update the findings continuously. We distribute a one-page checklist and ask respondents to select the seven qualities that they “most look for and admire in a leader, someone whose direction they would willingly follow.” We tell them that the key word in this question is willingly. What do they expect from a leader they would follow, not because they have to, but because they want to? The results have been striking in their regularity over the years, and they do not significantly vary by demographical, organizational, or cultural differences The Opportunity What happens when you take 25 years of empirical research by by Kouzes and Posner of over 75,000 individuals on leadership – from a constituency point of view – and bump this up against what is being taught by HR and training executives – or at least the 2,500 surveyed by Novations? Are they aligned? Not to put too fine a point on this but lets be clear. Are company and organizational talent management system creating a group of people (as leaders) that employees or organizational members will admire and willingly follow? Or, are these talent management programs focused on something else? And if so, what and why are these leadership development programs teaching what they teach? What is driving the curriculum being taught? If the answer is no – that is, if HR talent management programs are teaching what is irrelevant to what is empirically discovered to be successful leadership qualities, skills and competencies then, well, we have quite an interesting situation that bears further investigation.
  3. 3. The Kouzes Posner Research - The five behavioral practices of exemplary leadership Based on the 25 years of research, Kouzes and Posner came up with these 5 behavioral practices of exemplary leadership. 1. Clarify values and set the example – model the way. In order to clarify values and set the example leaders first have to have principles and beliefs. In a certain sense, this is an exercise in self-inspection. To the extent that people do in fact “act” (have a behavior) they do have some set of values, beliefs, and principles – whether consciously articulated or not. The task is to make these explicit. After these values have been discovered one must have the capability to articulate them. In short, communication skills. Beyond the articulation of principles and beliefs leaders need to establish and maintain credibility. One establishes credibility by acting on those values. That is, action gives a voice and credibility to these values, principles, and beliefs, in a way that simply articulating these values in speech or writing can not. No one will believe an individual as a leader until they demonstrate a commitment to your values. That is, model the way. Actions – behavior and judgment – have to be consistent with the values that the leader has articulated in speech of writing. 2. Inspire a shared vision of the future possibilities and enlist others in that vision The Kouzes-Posner research shows that leaders must be able to envisage , project, and articulate a future for the organization. Equally important constituency groups must be able to see themselves in this future. The leaders vision of the future must be inspirational in order to achieve buy-in and commitment from the constituency. To be inspirational the vision must be able to show the greater opportunities that await and how this vision is unique and differentiates your organization from all the rest. High performance behavior within an organization can be achieved by instilling passion and pride in achieving the vision. In order to achieve this, what leaders envisage for the future must resonate with the constituency base. 3. Challenge the process by searching for opportunities to innovate, grow, and improve by experimenting and taking risks Challenging the process sometimes means challenging the way things are done – especially when the way things are done has placed an organization in a state of stagnation or decline. “Repeating the past” does not play well in a dynamic external environment. The Kouzes-Posner research found that successful leaders create a climate for the recognition of good ideas and support for those ideas. Successful leaders create a climate for experimentation and risk taking without the stigma of failure.
  4. 4. In some cases success breeds failure. Why? In a nearly continuous stream of successes one has less of an opportunity to learn from failure – or the organization is not taking enough risks - or it operates in a a non-competitive environment. In many cases, people and organizations “are made” by adversity, setbacks, and successful recovery. Failure can breed success through careful analysis of failure, repositioning, new strategy, better execution – or whatever the results of the analysis show if individuals and organization have the tenacity and commitment to carry through on careful analysis of product, service, or organizational failure. Organizational leaders can create a climate of experimentation within a workforce where there is fear of risk and failure by reframing. For example, reframe uncertainty as adventure; fear into resolve; and risk into reward. Successful leaders champion change – change not for the sake of change in the service of innovation. No organization can stand still for long and continue to be competitive. Customers will grow weary of products and services that can not adapt to the changing external environment or competitive challenges. Finding new and better ways of doing things, developing new products, services, or systems should be a continuous and ongoing process in any organization. Challenging the process is not only an internal endeavor. Challenging the process also involves looking outside the realm of familiar experience at the ways other organizations operate – borrow and refine what works – discard what does not work. Bottom line – always and continuously challenge the current process to look for new opportunities. 4. Enable others to act by fostering collaboration, building trust and strengthening everyone capacity to deliver on their promises. One could summarize this a few different ways: “empower people to act” and “mobilize people”. The Kouzes-Posner research found that successful leaders learn to trust people, relinquish control, and enable others to act. There are a couple of old expressions that come to mind – “every brain in the game” and “no one of us is smarter than all of us”. To realize the power of groups of people leaders need to facilitate relationship and collaboration among individuals. They need to instill a sense of cohesiveness and self- determination along with shared creation, shared responsibility and personal accountability to the collaborative team. Leaders need to facilitate competency development across the team and also ensure there is a diversity of complementary skills and perspectives. These combined allow people to not only develop and demonstrate the belief that they can make a difference for the better but that they can in fact realize the vision though empowerment, relationships, collaboration, and competency development. 5. Celebrate values and victories recognizing contributions of other celebrating values and victories
  5. 5. People that make the commitment and put in long hours need recognition to sustain the effort. Successful leaders expect the best and provide personalize recognition in return. Public recognition of personal achievement builds a community through celebration. Successful leaders perpetually look for people doing things right an reward it. A community of achievement is sustained by telling stories of personal, group, and organizational accomplishment. Leadership Training and Talent Management Hitting the mark So lets look at the survey results of 2,500 HR and Talent Management Executives. When asked the question: Which of the following management situations or initiatives are addressed by your organization’s leadership development program (please select all that apply)? This is an analysis of the responses as above. Color coded in red are the items relevant to the results of 25 years of accumulated research across 75,000 individuals as reported by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner Coaching a performance problem 71.9% Communicating performance standards 69.1% Coaching a development opportunity 68.7% Conducting a performance appraisal 66.8% Handling conflict situations 65.9% Communicating vision and strategy 59.4% Selecting the right employee 58.1% Diversity & Inclusion 55.3% Gaining commitment to goals 49.3% Managing priorities 48.8% Change management 45.2% Acting on feedback 44.7% Teaching a skill & delegating responsibility 39.6% Influencing internal resources 34.6% Managing a virtual team 27.6% Now one can see what is curious about the responses. The top 5 skills and competences taught in leadership development programs – as reported by 2,500 HR respondents – have noting to do with the skills and competencies that Kouzes and Posner discovered as leadership attributes.
  6. 6. Only 59.4% of respondents say they teach “Communicating Vision and Strategy” as part of leadership development. “Gaining commitment to goals” – 49.3% – less than 1/2 across 2,500 respondents surveyed. “Change Management” (challenging the process and institutionalizing this) – sadly 45.2% “Influencing” (motivating) – 34.6% The misalignment So why the mismatch between what is being taught in leadership development programs and the result of the Kouzer-Posner research? Here are some thoughts 1. The survey question clearly states “leadership development program”. The survey results show that leadership training programs are really teaching management skills and competencies. Why? If leadership programs are driven by needs as observed in actual organizations then management in those organization is not fulfilling their roles. Why? One possibility is that individual contributors have been promoted to management roles without being prepared with the skills and competencies needed for that role. The result? Leaders are focusing on what should be handled at the management level. That is, based on organizational need, leaders have to take on more of a management role than a leadership role to fill the vacuum in the layer below them 2. As a result of the above, leadership programs in those organizations are diminished. How? Training for leaders is heavily weighted toward dealing with tactical operational problems not focusing on strategy and vision – that is, the skills, competencies, and competencies as discovered by the Kouzes and Posner research. This did not escape the notice of Novations: BOSTON, May 6, 2006 — Coaching a performance problem, communicating performance standards and other tactical initiatives are the most common components of leadership development programs, according to a study by Novations Group, a global consulting organization based in Boston. A good deal less frequent are key strategic skills such as communicating vision or delegating responsibility, reported Novations, which surveyed more than 2,500 senior HR and training executives throughout the U.S. and Canada. In fact, the top five leadership development initiatives are entirely operational in focus. What is disappointing is the relatively low emphasis given to the strategic dimension. At the very core of developing new leaders is getting people to look beyond the tactical stuff and to engage on the bigger issues.” And on individual contributors being promoted to management without the necessary skills to effectively manage and act as a local leaders
  7. 7. In order for individuals to advance from individual contributor to manager they need to be taught the full suite of skills needed to act as a local leader, not as just an expert. And too often people are promoted to a management position and don’t let go of their old job.” All this plays into the idea of “clogging the leadership pipeline”. Making the mistake of promoting individual contributors without the necessary management skills pushes the role of management to leaders which have to execute the skills (tactical and operational) due to the absence of management skills by the errant promotion of individual contributors. So, if “leaders” have to be trained to take over management duties then that diminishes the relative amount of time they can spend on focused leadership activities discovered by Kouzes and Posner. Conclusion – one possible remedy One solution to this organizational situation is reclassification. That is, every employee is placed in a job role based on the skills, competencies, time commitments, and behaviors that they actually demonstrate by observation on the job against rigorous job analysis and descriptions. An organizational decision to do widespread reclassification can take its toll. But sometimes, significant transformation of an organization can be an effective way to restore a corporation or organization to competitevness in a dynamic competitive marketplace. Read the actual experience of Forced Ranking here. Novations is a global talent management consultancy. So, based on their research of the 2,500 HR talent management executives it looks like they have some good leads to follow up on and a good story to tell if they leverage the Kouzes-Posner and similar research. http://frrl.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/can-2500-human-resources-and-training-executives-be- wrong-or-getting-hr-to-hit-the-mark-on-leadership-and-talent-management/ References and Related Postings How to NOT derail your corporate or organizational career Managing Your Career – When IQ and Expertise are not enough:Or, why you need Emotional Intelligence to get ahead From Loading Dock to CEO in 6 painful steps. Or, Navigating the Leadership Pipeline Developing your Leadership Pipeline – Harvard Business Review December 2008 The Secret to GE’s Success: A Former insider Reveals the Leadership lessons of the World’s Most Competitive Company (Hardcover) by William R. Rothschild
  8. 8. The Leadership Pipeline: how to build a Leadership-Powered Company by Drotter, Noel, Charan The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner Forced Ranking – Behind the Scenes

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