Winning the war for Talent - Human Capital_Sept-Oct 2007


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Winning the war for Talent - Human Capital_Sept-Oct 2007

  2. 2. 54    humanCapital I September > october 2007 Developing Leadership Pipeline for Succession Planning through Transition Coaching by Dr Sattar Bawany C EOs today face a stark dilemma when it comes to retaining talent: “Do I give high-potential executives the rapid promotions they expect and risk putting under-prepared people in over-challenging jobs where they are likely to fail?” or “Do I encourage them to gather more experience and risk losing them to a competitor, leaving me struggling to find replacements?” Today’s high-performers know their talents are in ever-shorter supply. They also know that as organisations flatten, career paths are contracting. They expect to reach the top faster than their predecessors, taking fewer jobs along the way. If their current organisation cannot, or will not, offer frequent and substantial promotions, they will look elsewhere. In the hyper-competitive environment of today's global economy, organisations must constantly adapt to and stay ahead of changing market needs. Whether it is merger and acquisition, restructuring, promotion, downsizing, on-boarding, role change or retirement, the transitions that organisations and individuals go through are major investments and demand high returns. However, few deliver the desired results. It's the way these transitions are managed that determines whether the results are enormous gains or significant losses. Organisations move their leaders through positions of responsibility and challenges to develop talent and ensure capability for the future. We call these transitions “role to role” transitions, that is, a leader who is successfully performing in one role takes on another role with different responsibilities. Successfully assuming a new leadership role is almost never easy. It is more often challenging and daunting – regardless of the amount of experience a leader may have. Actions taken in the first few months of a leadership transition directly impact a leader’s chances of success. Transitions can be times of both great opportunity and great risk. Transitioning leaders often find the eyes of superiors, colleagues, direct reports and even shareholders firmly fixed on their first moves. Expectations are high. So what are the secrets of succeeding and thriving in times of role transition, with so much at stake? Why the need for a transition? Human beings generally thrive on personal achievements. True leaders, on the other hand, thrive on the achievements of their team members. A successful transition to leadership means leaders must focus on developing confidence in others and deriving satisfaction from their achievements. Role-to-role transitions are critical to company performance. The company needs leaders to execute to meet objectives and has bet that internal candidates are better value at less risk. Transitions, whether planned in conjunction with a succession planning/performance management process or as business events arise, are also important for fulfilling career ambitions and leaders’ need for growth; successful transitions ensure future capability. What are the challenges leaders in transition faces? The specific challenges facing new leaders depend on the types of transitions they are experiencing. Leaders who have been hired from the outside (on-boarding) confront the need to adapt to new business models and organisational cultures, and to build supportive networks of relationships. For those who have been promoted (role-to-role transitions), the challenges lie in understanding and developing the competencies required to be successful at the new level. So, it is essential to carefully diagnose the situation and craft transition strategies accordingly. What are the major pitfalls? The biggest trap new leaders fall into is to believe that they will continue to be successful by doing what has made them successful in the past. There is an old saying, "To a person who has a hammer, everything looks like a nail." New leaders should focus first on discovering what it will take to be successful in the new role, then discipline themselves to do the things that don't come naturally if the situation demands it. New leaders are expected to “hit the ground running”. They must produce results quickly while simultaneously assimilating into the organisation. The result is that a large number of newly recruited or promoted managers fail within the first year of starting new jobs. With over 40 years of experience working with individuals and organisations in transition, DBM executive coaching experience and research indicates three areas where role-to-role transitions derail: (1) The organisation lacks clarity on requirements of the role and what leadership capabilities and values are best suited. (2) The executive lacks readiness on one or several leadership dimensions, such as capabilities to execute, understanding of priorities, ability to forge alliances, etc. (3) Individual expectations are not aligned with organisation goals; more importantly, there is no dialogue to create alignment. How to make the transition? In order to successfully transition, leaders must engage in the company’s corporate strategy and culture to accelerate productivity. Leaders must learn to re-define their need for power and control. Team members normally value a certain amount of freedom and autonomy. People want to influence the events around them and not be controlled by an over-bearing leader. World- class leaders delegate. They learn to trust, and give up some control. Leaders Winning the War for Talent: VIEWPOINT
  3. 3. september > october 2007 I humanCapital    55 learn to live with the risks and knowledge that someone else may do things a little differently. When leaders don’t empower and delegate, they can become ineffective and overwhelmed. In turn, team members feel under-utilised and therefore less motivated. Leaders also learn to transition in other critical ways. The challenge for leaders lies in balancing the needs of many stakeholders: owners, employees, customers and community. Because of this challenge, team members can feel alienated when unpopular decisions must be made. Leadership can be hard. Sometimes a leader should make waves, champion change and challenge people’s comfort zone. Leaders are guided by standards, principles and core values. Leaders focus on what is right, not who is right. Leaders know they can’t make people happy. People have to take ownership and control of their own happiness. Leaders concentrate on shared interests and the team goal. Consequently, the driving force behind a team is a leader who treats team members with respect, while keeping the vision in mind. When we think about leaders in transition, on-boarding and assimilating leaders new to the organisation immediately comes to mind. However, there are other situations where transitions coaching apply: • With the looming talent shortage, many of our clients are focusing on support for high potential leaders. While many organisations have classroom-type programmes and action learning initiatives, real-time post-programme support to ensure early success for these leaders as they move into challenging new positions is increasingly important. • As globalisation, technology innovation and flatter organisational structures reshape how we work, even experienced leaders can benefit from transition coaching. The average leader’s tenure in a job is now shorter – leaders may not be in their previous jobs long enough to have developed the behavioural skills and effectiveness to take the next step. • Often during a merger, acquisition or restructuring, leaders may assume roles in managing the organisation’s transition. Coaching can help leaders in these situations stay “attuned” to critical people challenges involved in integration, such as the cultural and communications needs of employees. What if there was a proven process to support new leaders in their role while significantly increasing return on investment and ensuring a positive economic impact for the organisation? One such process is Transition Coaching®; a proven, integrated and systematic process by DBM, which engages new leaders in the company’s corporate strategy and culture to accelerate productivity. The Transition Coaching Approach DBM’s transition coaching solutions typically include four stages (see Figure 1): First, DBM works with the client organisation to define “mission- critical” transition roles. This is a critical step in determining priorities for executive coaching, the focus of coaching assignments and selecting and matching executive coaches and clients. This review can cover positions ranging from mid-level leaders to include the C-Suite. Our engagement team uses a range of tools, including stakeholder interviews, analysis of HR process and data, focus groups and so forth to: • Define transition roles. • Uncover the unique challenges for leaders in transition, specific to the organisation. In addition to mission-critical positions, a client organisation may use transitions as a means of identifying and nurturing talent early. We consult with the client on concepts that combine other forms of leadership development with coaching that support this goal. Second, we recommend solutions that – if implemented – will accelerate leadership development and alignment with company objectives. Our recommendations are targeted at the specific challenges of each type of transition and level of leader. Along with these recommendations, DBM provides examples of metrics for evaluating on-boarding outcomes and success. DBM can also partner with the organisation to implement solutions. For example, DBM can develop customised action learning events to build skills necessary for leadership success. Third, using our extensive network of executive coaches, DBM provides real-time support to individuals, from C-Suite to mid-level leaders, as they make the transition. A leader’s preparation for entering a new role can have significant impact on overall performance. Our Setting Expectations Contracting For Success DBM Coaching Process Measuring Return Organisation DBM & Stakeholders define: • The business context • The client situation • Coaching objectives and measures of success • Confidentiality agreements Client • DBM recommends coaches • Client interviews recommended coach(es) • Client selects coach • Coach and client contract for success • Client satisfaction/ feedback survey • Coachee satisfaction/ feedback survey • Evaluation of business performance Learning Priorities Establishing Priorities & Relationships Focusing on Objectives Fig1: DBM Transition Coaching Approach
  4. 4. 56    humanCapital I September > october 2007 VIEWPOINT executive coaching programmes help leaders prepare for the transition and come up the learning curve faster. For other leaders, DBM coaching can supplement leadership development programmes, whether internally developed or by DBM. This one-to-one coaching facilitates self-awareness and results in a personal development plan that can be used in conjunction with performance reviews. Fourth, at the C-Suite and senior levels, executives are usually undertaking an organisation transition in their new role. Our executive coaches have deep experience in helping executives develop, communicate, and implement their vision and organisation change agenda.Thisexpertiseinchange leadershipenables thecoached executive to connect and enlist stakeholders in the leader’s business agenda. In addition, DBM coaching faculty employ tested feedback processes to ensure senior leaders can continually assess their effectiveness and take self-correcting action. At the mid-level, early feedback has significant impact on success. DBM works with stakeholders to ensure mid-level executives not only get receive feedback but have support in developing new skills. For cost- effective development, DBM can offer additional leadership development resources to support coaching programmes. These resources include workshops and online learning. As a standard practice, DBM conducts evaluations among leaders who have been coached. These evaluations are designed to pinpoint the impact of coaching in accelerating individual assimilation and performance. In addition, DBM can conduct a second organisation assessment, with the objective of identifying where the organisation has made measurable improvement in transitioning executives and where more work can be done. DBM’s Executive Coaching Methodology DBM utilises a proven four-step process (See Figure 2) that is firmly grounded in leadership development best practices: What are the skills required for leaders in transition? Leaders must identify the right goals, develop and finetune a supporting strategy, align the architecture of the organisation, and figure out what projects to successfully pursue and accelerate productivity. Leaders at all levels of the organisation must demonstrate a high degree of emotional intelligence in their leadership role. Emotionally intelligent leaders create an environment of positive morale and higher productivity. The critical skills sets for leaders in transition include possessing skills in relationship management, communication, negotiation and conflict resolution. Relationships are great sources of leverage. By building credibility with influential players, leaders are better able to gain agreement on goals and commitment to achieving those goals. As a new leader, relationship management skills are critical as the leader is not the only one going through a transition. To varying degrees, many different people – both inside and outside the leader’s direct line of command – are affected by the way he or she handles the new role. But it is difficult to make everyone happy. Leaders should concentrate on shared interests and the team goal. Ultimately, the driving force behind a team is a leader who treats team members with respect, while keeping the vision in mind. The reality for leaders in transition is that relationships are great sources of leverage. By building credibility with influential players, you are better able to gain agreement on goals, and commitment to achieving those goals. Put another way, leaders negotiate their way to success in their new roles. Planning for Successful Leadership Transition Studies have demonstrated that leaders who consistently outperform their peers not only have the technical skills required, but more importantly, have mastered most of the aspects of Emotional Intelligence (EI). The four main areas of EI are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Many of the EI competencies are tightly related to one another, and improving competency in one area will often positively affect competency in another. Competence in each of these areas will help anyone become better at working with people. Proficiency in certain sets of these competencies will propel a leader and an organisation towards greater productivity, greater satisfaction and increased profitability. Leaders who build these relationship competencies find they have a greater ability to improve their organisation's profitability, growth, satisfaction, teamwork and vision. EI involves the control of one’s emotions to fit a particular situation. This is different from a purely rational or intellectual response to various managementsituations. WhenaleaderhasahighEmotionalQuotient(EQ), that person will react in a proper manner to the individuals in the situation, as well as the situation itself. A person reacting with their Intelligence Quotient (IQ) would simply react to the facts of the situation and negate the “total picture”, which includes the irrationality of human behaviour. The leadership succession issue doesn’t have to be painful and difficult. It can be a win-win. How? By preparing for the process of transition. This involves making a plan for succession, including the incoming and outgoing Awareness: Through assessment and information gathering, leaders determine how their performance links to current business goals. Analysis: Feedback and planning enable executives to determine what to do to close the gaps in their leadership capability. Action: Taking well-defined action steps informed by regular feedback enables leaders to move toward measurable goals. Achievement: A full evaluation of the coaching process yields objective measures of business results and professional outcomes. Our consistent delivery methodology ensures that every one of your executives receives the same degree of insightful business analysis, personalised consideration and performance-driven priority. Fig2: DBM Executive Coaching Steps
  5. 5. september > october 2007 I humanCapital    57 leaders in the process and, most importantly, involving all in how to handle this potentially emotionally-charged transition. Themost successful leadershiptransitions result whenthoseinvolved have improved their EI skills. That begins with just acknowledging that a multitude of strong emotions are bound to occur in any leadership transition. Denying that those feelings are there just makes the whole situation more difficult and more volatile. The successor also faces a difficult situation. As mentioned earlier, his desire to be seen as an effective change agent, but not a usurper requires him to walk a fine line. If he sees the need to move swiftly with major changes, but doesn’t demonstrate empathy or nurture relationships with senior team members, he is likely to alienate his boss and other senior managers. His ideas can easily be interpreted as a personal criticism of his predecessor and senior team. If he doesn’t use the information about others’ emotions and their ideas in presenting his ideas as solutions, he will face resistance. If his boss or the CEO resists the changes the leader is making, the executive team is likely not to render support or give their “buy-in”. Gaining a Positive Outlook The process of transitioning into a leadership position can be smoother if leaders monitor and manage their outlook and perspective. Leadership training, education, tools and systems are very important. However, without the right outlook, new and even veteran leaders will experience serious difficulties and unrest. Reflect and examine your own leadership attitude and perspective. Develop an intentional plan to work on areas that need improvement. Build your skills and get a coach or mentor to help you. Be proactive, set goals and track progress. Notice your behaviour patterns. Don’t take over a task when someone is just looking for your input. Be patient. Leadership training is a lifelong development process. Don’t be afraid to share your goals and vision with your team members. Positive change can occur with commitment and persistence. In the end, the benefits of building transition capability go beyond retention. When people receive transition coaching and support, they not only master their future transitions more quickly and profoundly, but their immediate performance and commitment to the organisation improves dramatically. All employees – not just ambitious high-potential ones – want to succeed and contribute to the business. They will repay with commitment and innovation those employers who help them do this. Dr Sattar Bawany is the Head of Transition Coaching Practice with DBM Asia Pacific. Dr Bawany has over 25 years’ international business management experience, including 15 years in senior leadership position with global management consulting firms in the area of business development, strategic HR, organisation development, organisation effectiveness and executive coaching. In addition to his business and consulting career, Dr Sattar has over 10 years of concurrent academic experience as an Adjunct Professor and Senior Faculty teaching senior managers and professionals business strategies, international business and HR courses at various leading universities.