Talent Champion

Who to develop?

superhero businessman looking at city skyline at sunset. the concept of success, leadership and victory in business.
Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock

The psychological contract of a lifetime of work with one employer is long gone. In our globalized workplace it was replaced with the concept of developing oneself in the workplace.

According to Daphne Woolf, many senior leaders are not as good at developing talent in others as they think they are or as they should be. Her video illustrates the concepts of “Talent Champion who understand that they are responsible for developing others more than developing themselves and if they don’t have this skill set it can be developed.

Many successful senior leaders obtained their position by being operational experts in their industry, not necessarily talent experts. But when they reach that senior level they must be both an operational expert and a talent champion.

Click here to watch a video with Daphne Wolf

Daphne Wolf believes a Talent Champion can be developed by doing the following:

  • Assessing the senior executive strengths in developing others.
  • Embed the concept in the senior executive that developing others is a fundamental responsibility of their role.
  • Give them the skills and strategies on how to mentor others.

Developing Talent Champions within an organization needs to become a proactive activity not just a passive activity. This can only happen if the senior executive is naturally affiliated to develop others. HR departments need to take a leadership role in ensuring that the coaching and mentoring of others is a core competency of all senior executives.

Discussion Questions

  1. Research to see if you can find a simple but effective mentoring-others self-assessment tool.
  2. Once you have found a tool use it to measure yourself on your ability to mentor others. Where are your strengths and where are your areas of improvement?
  3. Review some senior executive’s job description. Determine if they have ‘developing others’ as part of their job description. If so, identify some common terminology.

From Checkers to Checkmate

All the right HR moves.

playing wooden chess pieces
Sergey Peterman/Shutterstock

Move toward, move away – very specific and directive, vague and creative. This is what a manager should be thinking about if they want real performance out of an employee. Marcus Buckingham who is a leading management consultant and performance coach emphasizes the concept; if you let people play to their strengths they will perform better for you at work.

He expands on that concept in his Harvard Business Review (HBR) article called “What Great Managers Do.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Marcus Buckingham brings in the analogy that good managers are playing checkers but great leaders are playing chess. If you think back to Fredrick Taylor and his theories of scientific management, all managers should be playing checkers: each job is subdivided into the smallest unit that anyone can understand, make all workers the same and interchangeable. Scientific management parallels the concept of the checkerboard very nicely. That concept may have flourished during the early years of the industrial revolution but not anymore with knowledge workers and fierce competition of globalization demanding higher level skills from workers and managers.

In today’s organizations leaders need to play chess, each worker has a differing purpose, a different move and interacts on different levels with individuals in the organization. Buckingham talks about the three levels every leader needs to know about their direct report:

  1. Learn your direct report’s strengths.
  2. What are the triggers that activate those strengths?
  3. What is their learning style?

Doing the above with every person you work closely with will give the HR professional the ability to leave the checkerboard behind and work with individuals like a chess master.

Discussion Questions

  1. The first step in any great workplace performance is the ability to know yourself. Ask yourself what are your strengths? What triggers those strengths into exceptional performance? What is your learning style?
  2. Now imagine you are having a meeting with your new boss. Create a written two-minute speech on how the boss should manage you to get your best performance.

Coaching for Best Practice

Team of paper doll people holding hands

One of the many joys that come from working as a Human Resources professional is learning how to stay open to opportunities that spur personal growth. Every day, the practice of Human Resources is a little bit different given the variety of connections and communications we have with others. Through these connections and contacts, we can make the choice to foster learning and improve our own HR practice by reflecting critically on our views and actions in interpersonal organizational behaviour.

How can we improve our own HR practice so that we can help improve the organizational practice of others?

The concepts embedded in coaching may provide us with some simple steps to include as part of our individual HR practices. In his article, Six Coaching Tips for Your Organization, Charles Qabazard outlines six techniques for effective coaching that translate directly to effective HR practices.

Click here to read the article.

In any organization, the Human Resources function involves listening, asking questions, focusing on solutions, goal orientation, cultural awareness and follow up. Each of these six techniques, on their own, seems pretty simple. When they are pulled together by the thoughtful HR professional, they become powerful coaching tools that elevate the credibility and the role of HR in any setting. In order to be an effective organizational coach for others, we need to ensure that our own coaching skills are in practice every day.

HR practice really does make HR perfect!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Of the six effective coaching techniques, which one is the most important to you?
  2. How does cultural awareness improve the practice of HR?
  3. How do you ensure that you are perceived as a credible professional?
  4. If you were to advise your current boss on these six techniques, which one would you emphasize for organizational improvement?

A Leprechaun’s Pot o’ Gold is waiting for you!

Feedback is gold!

March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day, the day the world goes green and dreams of leprechauns and their elusive Pot o’ Gold. Gold, for centuries, has always been considered a powerful storehouse of value. For the lucky Human Resources professional, effective feedback is a valuable pot of gold to be used in trying to improve employee performance.

Current research is becoming clearer and is starting to show that annual performance ranking systems do not improve employee performance.

Here are some research highlights from Deloitte University Press:

  • Today’s widespread ranking and ratings-based performance management process is damaging to employee engagement, alienating high performers, and costing managers valuable time.
  • Only 8 percent of companies report that their performance management process drives high levels of value, while 58 percent said it is not an effective use of valuable time.

Click Here to Read the Research Paper

What might be an effective alternative if these ineffective methods were no longer used?

We know organizational systems hate a vacuum; if we remove the annual performance rating system what do we replace it with? Feedback and coaching is the answer.

If we are going to implement a new performance management system we should learn how to provide feedback well. Georgia Murch, author of the new book, Fixing Feedback, outlines three mistakes that professionals make when giving employee feedback:

  1. People do not use enough facts
  2. The message is delivered poorly
  3. There is little opportunity for a two way dialogue

Click Here to Read the Article.

HR Professionals need to take a lead role and challenge existing performance management systems and replace them with systems that work.  Remember that any new HR initiative will only be as good as the individuals who are tasked with that initiative.  In the case of providing effective feedback, HR must ensure that we are modelling effective feedback methodology first and then second, we must ensure that supervisors are capable, trained and coached on how to give meaningful feedback to employees, second.

When we share the gold, we share the power and we share the learning, all with the goal to improve and provide effective HR practices.

 Discussion Questions:

  1. What research or evidence would you need to produce to convince your VP of HR to scrap the annual performance management system?
  2.  What type of supervisory training would you suggest for supervisors who have to now coach employees?

Executive Coaching – Benefit or Not?

Can executive coaching be an effective on-the-job development tool?  Yes!

Executive coaching has been around for a long time and is often used as an On-the-Job (OTJ) training and development method. Yet, many organizations have not taken the time to explore the executive coaching topic in great detail.

Let’s take a quick journey through the myths and research surrounding executive coaching. First, the myths. In the following article from Human Resources Director, Volume 3.04, they succinctly outline some coaching myths, including:

  • Coaching is for remedial help
  • Coaching is only for those that lack specific skills
  • To be a good executive coach, the coach had to be an executive

Click here to read the full article 

Because of the above myths, many executives see coaching as a weakness rather than a benefit. In reality, coaching can help them reach greater inner and outer potential.

Let’s add some research to the myth busting.  The Ivey Business Journal identified the benefits of executive coaching, as follows:

  • Continuous one-on-one attention
  • Expanded thinking through dialogue with a curious outsider
  • Self-awareness, including blind spots
  • Personal accountability for development
  • Just-in-time learning

Click here to read the full article

Two of my personal favourite benefits are, personal accountability, and just-in-time learning. Coaching can benefit all employees within an organization while greatly assisting some of the most expensive company assets – Executives.

The next time you receive push back when coaching is suggested, use the information in these two articles as positive ammunition for coaching.

Discussion Question

  1. You have been asked to develop a proposal to introduce an executive coaching program. What arguments will you present to get your organization to support this kind of training initiative?