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Take a Chance on Me

By Pauline Nolte

Pauline Nolte

Over dinner at a trendy Asian-fusion restaurant in Sydney last weekend, conversation turned to work. “I think it’s time to find a new job, I’m just so frustrated waiting for the long promised General Manager role,” declared one of my friends. An IT professional for a global financial services organisation, my friend is a consistent “high performer” whose manager had been promising him a more senior position for the past couple of years. According to his manager, my friend is a valued leader in the team who he believes has the potential to move into an executive role. I’m sure this manager doesn’t view my friend as a “flight risk” but the reality is, he’s going to start to look at other opportunities outside of his organisation.

Take a Chance on MeThis conversation was an interesting perspective—on a situation that I often see, through the lens of corporate OD.

Most organisations these days invest a lot of time and effort into their “talent review” or “talent identification” processes. I speak daily with clients who are proud of their well-oiled machines. OD often plays a role in orchestrating the review, HRBPs and line managers give up days of their time to review individuals and plot them on Performance/Potential matrices, the data is often collated centrally…and then…what? Sometimes getting to this point alone leaves HR and leaders spent and nothing happens beyond that. Succession management doesn’t end here, in fact, it’s just starting.

In a recent meeting with a global pharmaceutical company, an OD manager proudly shared his high potential selection practices with me but then lamented the fact that, when new roles became available, senior leaders in his organisation were often unprepared to take a risk on appointing those rated “high performance/high potential” because they didn’t have the confidence that the individuals would succeed in the role. My client recognised that he needed to start doing something different to give senior leaders confidence when making succession decisions. I wonder, is this what is holding back my friend’s organisation from offering him a GM role? Does his manager have insufficient data and confidence to promote my friend?

If this sounds like your organisation, you’re not alone. We know from DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015 that most organisations are not confident that they have the leadership in place to address current and future needs—only 15 percent of organisations rate their future bench strength as strong.

In my experience, organisations clearly define performance expectations and most have some criteria against which to assess longer term potential but not many are clear around readiness. At DDI, we differentiate as follows:

  Definition What Is Measured How It Is Measured
Performance How one is performing now in current role Current performance against job objectives The organisation’s performance management process
Potential One’s likelihood of long-range leadership growth (i.e., to top leadership) Leadership potential factors
Motivation to lead
Inventory of potential completed by managers familiar with the individual’s performance, plus management integration (self-report inventories are optional for additional insight)
Readiness One’s fit with a specific future role, job, or job family/level Full success profile, including knowledge, experience, competencies and personal attributes Role-specific assessment methods, such as assessment centers, interviews, simulations, and test

My OD client had a light bulb moment when he realised he could take his succession practices one step further by conducting some readiness assessments. Key to success in the highly competitive pharma space is the ability to develop a local strategy that leads to profitable growth while attracting, developing and growing organisational talent. He chose to use Acceleration Centres as a way of assessing leader capability to perform tasks they hadn’t necessarily completed in the past (devising a business strategy, communicating it in a compelling way to the business, overcoming resistance to change and building broad organisational talent). His executive team have welcomed the feedback around individual (and cohort) readiness to execute their unique business strategies as well as granular feedback about the specific competencies, personal attributes, knowledge areas or experiences they need to help their future senior leaders acquire.

A quality readiness assessment will provide you with insightful data to inform individual development plans and group development initiatives. Our research has found that one of the strongest influencers on employee development focus and engagement was having a quality up-to-date development plan.

Imagine the impact of presenting cohort readiness data to your senior executives as part of your annual business planning and talent review process. I guarantee that providing data-driven insights regarding your talent will increase their confidence when making talent decisions and open their eyes to people and possibilities they hadn’t previously considered. Furthermore, it will accelerate the development of your talent and allow you to achieve your business goals, faster.

As for my friend, he may stay with his current company for a while longer … at least until he sees the latest online job postings or the next headhunter calls.

Pauline Nolte is a Strategic Client Adviser in DDI’s Sydney office. Outside of work, she and her husband spend their time encouraging their two young daughters to be caring, curious, adventurous (and to tidy up their rooms!).

Posted: 07 Dec, 2016,
Talk to an Expert: Take a Chance on Me
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