Archive for December, 2008

How to overcome the High Potential Talent Management Challenge

December 25, 2008

When I posted the results of my High Potential Talent Management survey to several groups I received some very interesting replies:

Willy  Linssen in Linkedin Group IMD Alumni, Faculty and Staff:

“TM relates to many issues. What i have found works well is:
1. Objective assessment of the situation / organization. Organizational Culture and Effectiveness Assessments from Human Synergistics. They determine clearly what behaviors in the organizational culture are not supporting talents and their business and even more important it clearly pinpoints what systems and processes are the bottleneck.
2. Behavioral Coaching where Talents are coached to overcome challenges and create results at the same time. This is a typical ‘Corporate Athlete’ approach.
if you need more info please send me an e-mail: WL@

Emanuele Sevà in Linkedin Group IMD Alumni, Faculty and Staff:

” share your passion for talent management. For a combination of events, I have developed and have been running a development program for key customer managers – the best talents my B2B service company has hired and grown up.
In my experience, more than 10% fail; essentially, because expectations have been higher than their capabilities and pressure has become too high – despite we work in a nice and soft environment.
In other words: they know we want them to get leadership, but talent does not automatically equal leadership.”

Dianne Jacobs in Linkedin Group HCI (Human Capital Institute):
Visit her blog:

“A greater focus on talent management execution and governance are significant challenges facing most companies.

Here is my checklist for a company’s Talent Council or Talent Advisory Board:

1.Build both external leadership brand and internal leadership principles
2. Visible commitments from the C-Suite who take key roles as members of the talent development faculty
3. Accountability for creating and executing customised and purposeful learning development plans that builds broad capability
4. Relevant cross-divisional peer level interactions and learning
5. Potential defined and identified based on ability, aspiration, engagement and business critical capabilities
6. Create processes so that talent flows in the right sequence of roles to fulfil future potential
7. Align talent competencies to the strategic priorities
8. Encourage talent sharing
9. Manage the risks of stretch assignments and new role transitions
10. Constructive and timely feedback to talent on development progress
11. Valued initiatives include diverse coaches and champions
12. Learning that is aligned to the client and commercial outcomes
13. Coach leaders to be diversity champions
14. Coach diverse talent to take up their authority and increase promotion prospects
15. Set meaningful metrics for talent development performance. ”

Joseph Noone in Linkedin Group Linked:HR (HR Group with 78 000+ members)

1) you’ve got to widen your talent pool to take into account your attrition rate. Some companies try to limit the number of identified talents because it costs to develop them and reward them. However, if you know you will lose 10% every year, include that in your planning and develop more. Some will say you’re paying to develop for other organisations but it’s the price you have to pay and it balances out in the end.

2) Know your talent pool very well because each person has different needs and requires individual attention. One person may want to progress higher up the ladder, another may be dissatisfied with salary or bonus, the rule is to know each person individually and monitor him/her regularly. This means having clear performance criteria so that you know where each person is and where he/she is on the engagement spectrum. People leave quite often because they feel they haven’t been listened to and the secret of talent management is that it is not a collective process but an individualized process.

3) There are many reasons why a talented manager can derail. Here is a list of career derailment drivers:

– manager doesnt develop subordinates
– doesn’t resolve conflict between subordinates
– poor delegator
– gets irritated easily
– has trouble in new situations
– is a hands-on manager to a fault
– lacks attention to essential detail
– things slip through the cracks often
– involved in too much
– seen as very ambitious
– abrasive
– makes others feel stupid or diminished
– volatile under pressure
– doesn’t get the most out of people
– leaves people dangling due to unmet promises
– has stayed with the same mentor too long
– over relies on core talent (e.g. energy, brains, …)
– doesn’t sell well
– has to win at all costs
– has trouble adapting to those with different styles

(Based on J. Lombardo and Eichinger’s research and followed on by Frank Bournois).

If you take the above list and score managers on a scale of 1 to 4, you can identify who are most at risk of derailing! ”

Simona Panaite, MBA in Linkedin Group HCI (Human Capital Institute):

“Interesting survey and interesting results. I am so sick of reinventing the wheel….everybody with a basic education knows that people make the difference adn yet how many managers or CEO’s as well as how many big organizations have a sound talent development and planning strategy? An d how many try to keep their talents occupied?
A high potential employee always needs new challenges and chances to continue to develop. In essence they are people taht continue to fight for improvement and these kind of people are not always welcome since they constantly challenge the status quo, which is not easily to manage for a boss without real leadership skills.
I think that Dianne list is sound and consistent, but a company needs top executives that have the courage to apply these principles and willing to build a strategy for people development.
Of course at some point top talents just give up and go in a place where the have enough power to implement their ideas if not given the chance by the mother company. “

Francisco Matos in Linkedin Group GlobalHR:

“We cannot just look at CEO for leadership. At all management level there should be lead by example. However, I think fundamentally, some employees may choose to leave because simply put there is not Comprehensive Definition of Success and Growth using PM, 360, Comprehensive Compensation Plans, Job Rotation open opportunities for all (not just a few), Coaching and Mentoring programs. Lack of opportunity is a blanket statement. I would dog some more to find out what drives that perception, and create Talent Retention Programs working close with a tiger team of Compensation, Benefits, OD, Legal and other key players. An upward escalation of positions may not be for everyone and success or “opportunities to advance could mean an array of different things for those employees surveyed. These data so far here is to high level and will need to bring higher level of granularity and management accountability in hiring and retaining talent. Some of these variables can be related turn over and poor performance triggered by lack of motivation as opportunities for growth are perceived to be limited. We need to consider re-defining Success and Opportunities for growth, upward mobility is not the only one. I am interesting always to keep a pulse on the workforce. It is a asset that respond to the internal and external conditions of the market.. “

Kevin B. Richardson in LinkedinGroup HR World Expert Group:

“I think a lot of companies rush into TD without thinking it through and making sure they can support and sustain a program in regards to upward flow and mobility. They ask themselves, can I afford to do TD, not should I do TD. Some companies just need succession planning and that’s it. Hi-pot programs breed their own problems.

If I identify hi-pots and then spend a lot of time and money (read “attention”) on them and then say, okay, now I don’t have anything for you to do but just hang out for a couple of years until someone moves on… Of course they are goign to go somewhere else where they can use thier horsepower; basic Mazlow HON. It is like driving a Ferrari downtown or using a Thoroughbred to pull a cart.”

Raymond Truitt in Linkedin Group HCI (Human Capital Institute) :

“Peter: You bring a number of factors why most high potential projects fail to deliver and namely, the issue of retention. Sadly, most companies are not willing to put an infrastructure in place to help manage and develop the careers of their hi-pos. If a company is going to go through the trouble to trying to retain their top talent, then it is critical that they come up with strategies that can give hi-pos a number of opportunities inside (and out) the company. The heart of this is to have cross-functional cooperation so that developmental opportunities have some real payback for the business. I’ve seen where cross-pollinating sales with marketing, and sales will with operations can justify the movement of people across the enterprise to satisfy business goals. I think movement can happen anywhere in small measures (leading projects or initiatives) at first so that you are not placating people but building their capacity to contribute to the business. Movement can extend all the way up to leading divisions with major P&L responsibility to the C-suite. In my view, a company that is doing it well, creates a culture for developing talent and augments it with a world class L&D organization, talent management processes such as coaching, assessment centers, and mentoring, and connections to the company’s customer’s base to embed talent as another means to have hi-pos grow and develop. When I have seen hi-pos succeed in companies, it was often because they were critically self-aware, understood how to lead change, were really good at managing performance of others, and had a coaching mind-set, albeit, and most often, an unconscious competence. You can take many roads to get there, but companies that make it a priority, build it into their strategic plan, and treat people as assets have the best chance to win the war for keeping their talent. “

Carl Martin Faannessen in Linkedin Group IMD Alumni, Faculty and Staff:

“Dear Peter,
Thanks for an interesting question. Your numbers clearly show that most companies are abysmal at managing talent. More often than not, you may find that these companies focus on non-critical items such as job-classifications, wage-bands and so on. In other words, they are more focused on the technicalities of the organisation-chart, than on the people who are hidden from view behind the boxes.

If a company is committed to retaining and growing their talent-pool, they must do so with an open hand: Talented people respond positively to freedom of expression and freedom of pursuit. It is the leader’s role to provide a framework that meets these needs in a way that also benefits the company. (Incidentally, this will often lead to an innovative culture or sub-culture in a company or team). This remains true regardless of the economic environment in which a company operates. True leadership never goes out of style. “

Wish you a good start in 2009 and thanks so much for your support in 2008.


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