The Joy of Talent Management

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For an overview of the importance and impact that recruitment has on any organization, a recent interview with Patty McCord provides both inspiration and motivation.

Click here to read the interview.

Ms. McCord speaks to the very real perception that the recruitment aspect of the Human Resources function can be (and often is) relegated to a ‘workmanlike’ status.  It is, after all, a process-based series of steps that puts a candidate through multiple sets of assessments and events in order to determine whether or not the employer should hire them. If the Human Resources practitioner approaches recruitment from that perspective, it can be perceived as a tedious set of tasks for both the practitioner and the candidate.  The result may be the same, the candidate gets hired or not, but the value and the joy of the process is missed by everyone involved.

Recruitment is only the beginning of the talent management journey. It is, as Ms. McCord notes, the first step to ensuring employee retention is perceived as a mission linked to organizational success. If an organization is committed to being great, then they must hire and retain great people. That gives purpose and passion for every step and every process that the Human Resources practitioner is involved in.

It also makes the decision easier to not have people who are not so great. When a candidate joins an organization, they do so under a specific set of circumstances and understandings which start to change almost immediately. First, their role changes from candidate to employee. For both the employee and the employer, expectations become more clear, duties and responsibilities expand or contract, working relationships develop in both positive and potentially negative ways.

When there is a clear approach to employee development as part of a positive talent management strategy, the employee is able to accept and adapt to these changes in a constructive way. If there is no strategy in place, the employee’s experience is disjointed and, in many cases, unhappiness sets in.  The employer must decide whether or not the retention of unhappy employees is good for the organization. If it is not good, then the right decision is to relieve everyone of their unhappiness and end the employment relationship.

The ending of the employment relationship comes back to the beginning — recruiting with purpose and passion as the mission for organizational success.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Based on your reading of the article, identify three key effects that successful recruitment has on organizational success.
  2. How do organizational values shape or influence the hiring decision?
  3. If you were able to implement some of the suggested staffing strategies, which one would you pick? Explain your rationale.


Lonely At The Top?

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It does not have to be!

One of the unspoken challenges that comes with the ascension into a senior leadership role is that there is no one to talk to.  When a leader takes on the role of the Chief Executive Officer, they are perceived as having the competencies and the abilities to enact all organizational decisions and strategies on their own.  As the leader of others, the CEO does not need to have a leader for themselves.  It is as if once the leader has assumed the role, they are fully formed and no longer need further development from others.

This view of a leadership practice flies in the face of the principles of life-long learning and the on-going development of a learning organization.  Leaders are human.  Humans are innately drawn to the need for constant development and continuous learning.  While the organizational leader may no longer need to have the same kind of formal professional development plans that they learned from as they moved into more senior leadership roles, once they are in the top position, the leader does need to continue learning and growing, just like everyone else.

Mentorship provides one of the most effective forms of leadership training and learning to those that move into the organizational leadership role.  The role of the leadership mentor is explored in a recent article in the Financial Post.

Click here to read the article.

The mentorship relationship can have a powerful effect, not only on the CEO, but on the organization as a whole.  When the leader is healthy, the organization is also healthy, as noted in the article.  A leader who has a mentor is able to shape and share ideas to problem solve in a safe environment that respects the leadership function and understands the challenges that come with the mantle of the organizational leader.  The mentor may be one of the few people who can hold the mirror up to the leader for healthy self-critique and continuation of personal and professional development.

We all need someone to talk to who understands and can support us, especially when we must face difficult or challenging decisions.  As with any type of relationship, the key to successful mentoring is to ensure that both the mentor and mentee understand their roles and respect each other’s boundaries.

The leader who keeps learning is a positive role model for the rest of us.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As a Training and Development specialist, how would you develop a mentorship program for the CEO of your organization?
  2. Why would a CEO resist having a formal mentor as part of their personal leadership development plan?
  3. Identify three key characteristics of someone who has been a mentor for you. What made the mentoring relationship work for you?

Train the Management Brain

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There is a saying that effective leaders are born and not made. Why then do most organizations implement management training programs in order to support and promote leadership development?

It may be that there is something to be gained from ongoing leadership training, especially in the area of skill development for emotional intelligence. Among the many practical and professional requirements that are expected from individuals in managerial roles, most organizations expect their leaders to connect with, shape and motive others in positive ways. This cannot happen if the person in the leadership role does not know how to interact with others in an emotionally intelligent way.

Dr. Travis Bradbury is the co-author of ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’. He has provided a very good synopsis of the benefits of training for emotional intelligence in a recent article posted on the HuffPost website.

Click here to read the article.

While not specifically aimed at management development, Dr. Bradbury’s synopsis provides interesting statistical evidence that promotes this particular need for leadership training. Through the development of their emotional intelligence skills, average performers are able to see significant improvements in their level of performance and, correspondingly, ongoing increases in their level of monetary rewards.

It is ironic that emotional intelligence is not about the development of feelings. Instead, as Dr. Bradbury explains, emotional intelligence results from training the brain to ensure that we build effective ‘in-brain’ communication through the science of neuro-plasticity.  We can exercise our brains to make new and better connections between our rational and emotional brain centres. Training our brains result in higher levels of emotional intelligence. Higher levels of emotional intelligence result in leadership success.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In your opinion, what is the link between emotional intelligence and leadership success?
  2. Identify how a management development program can be implemented through the use of training for emotional intelligence.
  3. If your employer told you that you had to attend an emotional intelligence training program, how would you respond? Explain your reaction.

Rebuilding Relations?

A Canadian pacific locomotive at a road crossing near the town of red deer alberta in november 2016 after a recent snow fall. Railway crossings are a safety

One of the fundamental principles of labour relations is the focus on the relationship between labour and management. When this relationship is effective both parties are able to work through difficult issues in order to find constructive solutions that move the relationship and the organization forward. But when this relationship is ineffective both parties end up in polarized, oppositional positions that result in the stagnation of positive movement forward, possibly leading to organizational destruction.

Canadian Pacific (CP) Railways provides us with an excellent case study of the organizational turmoil caused by a difficult labour relations environment.

Click here to access a CBC report, which includes an extensive interview with the CEO of CP Railways.

As noted in this piece, the new CEO Keith Creel faces a significant challenge to repair the relationship with the union as a result of four years of layoffs, strikes and labour relations turmoil. On one hand, the CEO was able to achieve great success through organizational restructuring resulting in exceptional profits. On the other, the price of these profits came at the expense of serious damage to the labour relations environment and its workers.

Success for the future of this Canadian company seems to rest with the willingness of the CEO to acknowledge past labour relations mistakes and to put positive measures into place that are reflective of the need for change. The union, as noted in the article, has responded with cautious optimism depending on the continuing actions that will unfold as directed by this particular executive.

However, clearly if these measures continue to have a negative impact on this relationship, we will see this iconic Canadian railway juggernaut, once again, derailed.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the positional perspectives that the CEO is promoting in this piece?
  2. What are the positional perspectives that the union is defending in this piece?
  3. What message is the CEO sending by relaxing some of the policies noted in the article?
  4. Why is the CP Railway logo important?

Catching Up With the Times


HRM Online recently posted an article on the power of using video as a Human Resources communications tool. As a training tool, video has been around for a long time. Videos done well, however, have not.

Click here to read the article.

At first read, the notion that companies should be using video in order to communicate organizational messages seems a bit obvious. Upon reflection, however, using video as a platform for workforce training through effective messaging is not something that just ‘happens.’

Many of us have sat through video sessions on a variety of training requirements. While the information provided through the medium of video training may be useful, there is a significant lost opportunity if the production value of the video is shabby. There is limited transfer of effective training when the medium of the video itself is poorly constructed, filmed, edited and produced. In addition, a second opportunity may be lost in the disconnect between poor video content and organizational leadership goals and messages.

Nobody wants to sit through a twenty-minute fuzzy video clip of the organization’s talking head reading from a script as a training tool. The days of shoddy production and poor messaging are over.

Our workplaces are filled with sophisticated video consumers who have come to expect a certain level of video literacy from the source providing the medium and the message. When the organization fails to live up to this expectation, more than the content of the product is lost.

In order to meet these expectations, the Human Resources professional has an opportunity to support the development of video literacy in organizational leaders. Vern Oakley’s book, ​Leadership in Focus, provides direction on how to capture effective messaging and captivate the workplace audience in order to meet organizational goals.

Click here to read a summary of Leadership in Focus.

It is time for a change through the medium of video training, and time for a leadership close-up!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe a video training session that you found to be effective.
  2. How can video training tools provide organizational messages?
  3. If you had to produce a video training tool for your current workplace, how would you proceed?