Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recruiting and Retaining Talent

In our media-drenched, data-rich, channel-surfing, computer-gaming, busy all the time world, every one knows that having the right people on your team can make a world of difference. Furthermore, the best leaders and companies know that having a steady pipeline of talent positions the organization well for current operational challenges and future strategic opportunities. Still, the supply for qualified top talent is limited, especially if they are experienced managers. And this shortage does not appear to be going away any time soon.

It is with this in mind that I was delighted to receive my most recent issue of the October 2011 Harvard Business Review with the banner title, “The Talent Issue.” As always, I found some good articles in and amongst the many pages.

First, Rosabeth Moss Kanter nails it in her article called “The Cure for Horrible Bosses” on page 42. This is a topic that I have explored in the From Vision to Action Leadership Training since 1998 and I am always looking for new insights. I like how she explains the following about horrible bosses: “It’s not insults that cause the greatest harm, but rather callousness about people’s time. Horrible bosses want control. They expect subordinates to be on call 24/7 and to hit unrealistic deadlines with limited resources.” Given this perspective, I think she offers some sound ways to neutralize horrible bosses through the building of alternative mission based relationships and improved collaboration. This article is a good first step in retaining talented people. Here is a link to the on-line version:

Next, I enjoyed reading A.G. Lafley’s article called “The Art and Science of Finding The Right CEO.” With a great forward by Noel M. Tichy, the article points out that planning for leadership succession is one of the most important jobs that a company’s board of directors have. Nevertheless, many boards and CEOs often neglect this key responsibility because of other more pressing business matters. The article gives a nice road map to the continuous and ever evolving process of leadership succession and includes a marvelous framework by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis for selecting a CEO based on past leadership decisions. This framework alone is worth the price of the entire magazine. Here is a link to the on-line version:

When it comes to the subject of talent management, someone is going to explain how knowing what the core competencies of successful leaders are is the foundation for success. While in the past, I have tended to steer clear of these discussions because I have read enough research that states core competencies are the key to success, and research that has stated this is not correct. However, I was pleased to discover in the October 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review an article by John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger called “Making Yourself Indispensable.” Here the authors explain that if you want to get to the top, one must develop skills that complement what you already do best. Instead of merely developing just a few of their strengths to the highest level, these authors note that good leaders who become exceptional leaders engage in cross-training. In essence, they “enhance complementary skills that will enable them to make fuller use of their strengths.” Based on their research, there are 16 leadership competencies that “correlate strongly with positive business outcomes.” Furthermore, each of the competencies have up “to a dozen competency companions whose development will strengthen the core skill.” If you are wanting to help your talented people get better and you believe in building core competencies in your key people, then please read this article to help craft how you are going to go out and do this. Here is a link to the on-line version:

As always, if you find any good books or articles, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am always up for some good reading and learning. Whether you are people of the book or people of the screen, the key for me is to keep reading and keep learning. By constantly exploring new ideas and perspectives, we all position ourselves to become better people and better leaders.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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