Tag Archives: talent management

How serious is your talent development program?

training List

Three myths about training

Over the past two decades I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest companies on talent management programs where dedicated chief executive officers, chief purchasing officers, L&D leaders and HR executives have focused on employee development and growth. The reality is that some companies are dedicated to the overall competency of the individuals in the team, while others are looking to check off training and provide a feel-good exercise with limited results. Those who simply “check the training box” believe they are helping their team because of 3 myths.

Myth 1: online learning works as a standalone solution for development
With the pace of business today, many people delay taking online learning modules until they reach a deadline or their subscription is running out. As a result, many students cram the material to meet deadlines, but the learning is neither used nor retained. Online learning is great as a prerequisite for instructor-led learning or coaching. It enables gaining a common vocabulary, presenting basics and bringing everybody up to a common platform prior to a project, web meeting or a training class. I once had a discussion with an HR director who had an objective to conduct recurrent training. He told me that by using disaggregated online training modules, he meets his objective, has no travel costs and will be considered a hero in his organization. The unfortunate fact is people will be wasting time taking the modules without any impact on the company’s or individual’s overall performance. Many organizations buy online learning subscriptions that are never used.

Online learning is an effective tool when combined with other learning and development activities.

Myth 2: a training workshop will improve competency

While a training workshop will expose individuals and teams to new concepts and ideas, the attendees rarely apply the new concepts and tools to their daily work. Many people come to the workshop, spend several days, make friends, have some fun and return to an environment where processes and hectic schedules do not facilitate the embedding and use of new tools. Most effective workshop programs I have seen have online learning prerequisite requirements, instructor-led course delivery and a project assigned at the end of the course. The project normally is completed in six months and must deliver tangible benefits to the by demonstrating the use of all the workshop tools. The instructor is available to act as a coach and the employee’s supervisor monitors the project through its completion. Once completed, the company provides credit for taking the course and enjoys direct benefits, the employee has embedded the learning and there is a high return on investment for the development program—I’ve personally witnessed a validated return of $40 for every $1 spent in a training and development program using this model. I am now using this model with a subscription-based category management program that is delivering even better results.

A training course combined with a program to embed the learning delivers tangible benefits for the company and individuals.

Myth 3: management can watch from the sidelines

Unfortunately, some management believes training of any kind is good for the team. They’re happy to see it launched, but feel that they already know the course content and see no reason to participate. Without involvement of management, the team fails to take it seriously. On one assignment, I had to stop the training program to develop a crash course for the leaders who realized their team was speaking a new language and using new effective tools that they didn’t understand. Leaders learn a lot by observing individuals and team dynamics during training. Leading by example through participation in the training always delivers higher performing teams with incredible results.

Management participation in learning programs shows commitment to building and retaining top class talent.

Witnessing these 3 myths, I’ve fundamentally changed my approach to learning. Action learning and small group coaching always leads to embedded skills and their application. Long gone are the days where training is just a few days away from the office and training manuals get dusty on the bookshelf.

A radical change to the development of teams and individuals is required. The old methods just don’t work anymore.

Are you still scheduling a training course just to meet an annual objective?

The CPO’s biggest vulnerability – Building and refreshing the team

team

On this day after “Super Tuesday” for the US political race, it’s easy to see that the voting population today is not the same as 4 years ago. Campaigns are scrambling to reach both the younger voter and the older voter (Millennials and Baby Boomers) and the establishment isn’t working. The same is true for businesses: org structures that worked 4 years ago are not working now. In the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 new study, 92% of the top executives surveyed cited organizational design as a top priority and the report highlights the rise of a new “network of teams” org model. I see this in my own practice, especially in procurement and supply chain. For CPOs, leading teams is a real challenge.

To add even more complexity to the team building and refreshing process, ManpowerGroup’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey found 38% of companies are have difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent. No longer can the chief purchasing officer rely on finding individuals who have demonstrated technical and strategic procurement skills. Today, the job requires individuals who are well-rounded and have financial, relationship, influencing, financial, political and collaboration skills. The job no longer requires just the ability to negotiate, communicate and transact. The job now requires architecting the supply chain, integrating suppliers along the chain, quantifying the added value, driving increased levels of performance and building relationships that make their company shine brighter than the competition. Plus, they need to do this as a team. And, Millennials do not expect to work for the same company for decades, so the team must continue to advance as the individual members change.

I worked with a company recently that had 18 people in the procurement department. Of the existing team, 11 people had well over 30 years’ experience in the company and in purchasing. There was no succession plan and new approaches and ideas were limited. For this CPO, bringing in fresh faces was both a do-or-die and a no-win with the existing org structure and culture. It became essential to understand the talent required for generating the kinds of value extraction that will be required from the supply chains in the future and, most importantly, to find ways to foster a collaborative team process.

What’s a CPO to do? Here are five ideas for building and refreshing the procurement team:

  1. Build strong rotational programs so that new hires will rotate through several departments in the organization enhancing their business knowledge, commercial skills and relationships throughout the organization.
  2. Understand the current culture and the desired culture, what works in the current culture, who has the strongest skillsets and who has the weakest (for now and the desired state) and develop a strategy to strengthen the weak links.
  3. Build a strong succession plan for the entire team.
  4. Move more senior team members to different roles to let the newer members develop leadership and other skills.
  5. If you find the right talent, hire that person whether you have the position now or not.

By building and continually refreshing your team, you will assure your longevity as a leader. If you fail to build and refresh your team, you will become victim of the CEO’s plans to build and refresh the team.

Are you ready for the “network of teams” org structure?

What have you done for them lately?

I worked with a food industry client whose team was dedicated, hard working, and focused on their mission to reduce costs and deliver value. It was extremely competitive industry and the media reported that competitors were doing poorly based on price increases on commodities and raw materials. When this client reported a 57% increase in profit with a 9% increase in sales for the quarter, it became obvious to all that the procurement team was driving the results.

When I had a conversation with the CEO about providing a reward and recognition for this hard working team, he was astonished that I would ask what he planned to do for the team. Admitting he’d not thought of holding an event to reward and recognize the entire team, he was willing to try. He decided to host a dinner at the city’s finest restaurant. He invited all of the purchasing employees and their significant others and arranged a limo pickup for each. The CEO provided a nice gift for both the employees and their guests and thanked the guests for their sacrifice for the company to achieve this milestone. Needless to say, this recognition was the talk of the company for a long time. The team continued to excel and later the CEO acknowledged that this low cost activity provided many benefits long after the event occurred.

When economic and business conditions deteriorate, many companies cut employee reward activities when they are needed most. Low cost events can pull the team together and focus them on a shared vision and mission. While most companies acknowledge teambuilding as a key to organization development, they fail to see how a reward event can drive:

• Goal alignment
• Interpersonal relationships
• Role clarification
• Improved problem solving skills
• Sense of purpose

I think every leader should budget and plan for team events globally. These do not need to be elaborate nor expensive to be effective. The ability to have fun, get to know others in a non-work/political setting, and build understanding and trust go a long way to improving team performance and team dynamics. Don’t wait for a formal meeting or strategy session to do some teambuilding, although that is what many firms do. With finding and retaining talent a challenge, don’t forget the importance of a feeling of belonging to a team and company.

Looking for ideas for team activities? Here’s a good list I read recently “5 Team Building Activities That Don’t Suck”, January 2, 2015 — Posted By Kim Tracy Prince. And, here’s a list of fun events I’ve seen:

1. Whirly Ball
2. Bocce ball
3. Paint Ball
4. Picnic in the parking lot on a work day
5. Bowling
6. Attend a sports event

Casey Stengel said: “Gettin’ good players is easy. Gettin’ ’em to play together is the hard part.”

What will you do for your team?

The Talent Management Game

I was asked to speak about talent management to a group of about 1,800 procurement leaders in the insurance industry. In the same week, in meetings with two CEOs in different industries, both discussed talent management as a key strategic imperative for their respective businesses.

I started to think about the attributes of a great talent management program. I pondered which industry sets the standard for attracting, retaining, developing and deploying talent. Perhaps because I just experienced the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl in Phoenix and attended a workshop for sports related philanthropy, the sports industry stood out for managing talent.

Finding Talent

Both college and professional coaches scout talent, follow high potentials throughout their high school and college careers, consistently review player strengths and weaknesses, create a shortlist of needs, cultural fit and potential, then they recruit. While they may recruit star players, they always have their eye on recruits who have few bad habits, but are extremely coachable.

Starting with talent with the right attitude, smarts and cultural fit, coaches teach players the business by starting them in a rotational program, introducing them to mentors, shaping thinking, behavior and practices. They pare down the team; are they good enough to make the cut? Some companies like GE, Textron and others have embraced this process and move future leaders through the rotations, make them survive boot camps and grow into their destined positions.

I lived in Ann Arbor when Tom Brady played for the University of Michigan. He started college as 7th on the quarterback depth chart, and moved to back-up QB for two years. Then he battled Drew Henson for the starting position when Brian Griese graduated. In the 2000 NFL draft, he was selected with pick #199 in the 6th round. Now considered by many the top NFL pick of all time, he’s the poster child for finding “talent” with a high degree of coachability and high drive to improve.

Retaining Talent

Players are not developed to leave the team in free agency. Coaches must have defined career paths, challenging projects, continued coaching, training and development processes to drive the competence and capability of players to another level. Teams must also have an incentive scheme that makes it more difficult to leave once an investment is made in an individual. Just like sports, company development programs must be focused on individual and team needs to retain the talented employees they’ve invested in.

Playing the Game

Professional athletes are not only expected to have high skill levels and good game thinking, they are also expected to provide leadership to new recruits. The same is true in business, when the leadership and technical skills are in place, the business is learned and the team member is playing to his or her capability, it is important to align responsibility, authority and accountability with the individual and their position to help them become winners.

Winning the Championship

To get the best players, coaches and general managers know that they must grow, manage, develop and invest in talent to get to the championship. Talent management, whether leading procurement, supply chain or company organization, is not a short term proposition. It requires a plan, patience and investment to put the best team on the field. Great talent, customized to your business strategy, is not usually found as a star; find the coachable player and develop talent–great draft picks are waiting!

What’s your winning talent management strategy?