Blog

Wednesday
Mar302016

Managing Your Talent With An Eye To The Future

Scenario One

 

Your star performer has just left your office after telling you that they have decided to move on to another organisation after two years in your team.

After your self-recrimination period has passed, and you have rationalised their decision by deciding that it was due to factors beyond your control (we will come back to this), you decide to turn your mind to a replacement.  Unfortunately, you have been too busy to plan for succession at all levels in your team.  You went to a development program once and you remember them talking about succession but when you got back to work you were distracted by your in-tray that had continued to swell during your absence.
 
Here you are, up to your elbows in work and someone decides to leave.  Where is their loyalty, after everything you have done for them in giving them a job?  You will show them how indispensable they are by finding a replacement in the next couple of weeks.  So, you don’t have time to develop someone internally and your only option is to look outside.  You recall that your soon-to-depart star performer had a position description (PD) that someone from HR had helped you to develop and you reach for it from their file. 
 
You change the date on the PD, give it a quick ‘once-over’, update the remuneration, and you publish it through your digital recruitment process.  Now, all you will have to do is wait for the applications to come flooding in.  Your assistant can do the first ‘cut’ of applications and then you can take a look at the final three before making your decision.  Problem solved . . . or is it?

Considerations

Does all this sound vaguely familiar?  If so, you are not alone, unfortunately.  Let’s take a look at the situation.

Why did your star performer decide to leave in the first place?  What could you have done to avoid this important talent turnover?  Are you planning succession, or are you actively managing succession at all levels in your team/organisation?  Do the capabilities that you are looking for in your new hire reflect your business of two years ago, or are they attuned to the emerging environment within which they will work over the next three to five years? 

What about your current team members?  Are they being developed for today, or tomorrow?  Would it help if your network of contacts contained some talent that you are keeping an eye on and which would add value to your team's contribution?  What does this mean for your own progression?  Will your astute manager demand that your team is prepared for your departure at some time in the future, and what do you need to do to put yourself in the frame for a more strategic position?

Now consider an alternative scenario.

Scenario Two

 

Your star performer has been speaking with you in your regular catch-ups.  You are aware that they would like to move to a more strategic position and you have approached your contacts in other parts of the organisation to see what opportunities exist.  Although you will lose your star performer from your team, happily, there is an opportunity in another part of the organisation.  You have always encouraged your team members to stretch themselves – that is part of the reason why you are known as a high-performing team leader.

You have been updating your own, and your team’s, PDs on a regular basis and through a thorough analysis of your organisation and your industry knowledge, you are aware of possible emerging environments.  Accordingly, you have updated the capabilities that will be required for individuals to thrive in these future scenarios.  You have also ensured that your team members’ development plans have a similar future focus and your emerging talent is ready for that next step.  You know that actively managing succession puts you in a much stronger position than simply planning.  You have developed your team members through appropriate stretch assignments and you are well aware of who is ready now for that next step.  Through your networking activities, you know what talent is out there in the wider business community that involves your particular discipline, and you are pleased to say that your ‘home-grown’ talent stacks up very well in comparison.
 
You thank your star performer for their openness.  You select your next appointee from a group of talented individuals who know of you and are attracted to work for you through a rigorous selection process that is based on the organisation’s future needs, and you arrange a well considered and comprehensive hand-over before your star leaves the fold.

Decision Time

 

  • Which scenario do you choose?
  • What do you need to do to future-proof your talent management process?
  • What can you look forward to?
  • When will you start? 

 

All the best

Tuesday
Sep162014

In Search of One's Excellent Self

"Everyone is a genius.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."  Albert Einstein

So I want to be a leader.  Now, where is that list of famous people whose characteristics I need to emulate to ensure success? . . . . Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Aung San Suu Kyi, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Sun Tzu . . .  and the list goes on.  Famous leaders all, who inhabit any list of “Essential Leader Characteristics”, and who’s example I should follow.

My head spins.  It addles the brain just trying to keep up with the ever lengthening list and which, as time goes on, starts to bring the ‘essentials’ into conflict.  After all, what is the best leadership style for me?  The charismatic leader, or the quiet leader?  The servant leader, or the participative leader, or the situational leader?  The transactional, or transformational, leader?  What if I don't measure up to the legends?  Will I have failed?  Who should I compare myself with?  Who will others compare me with?  Who am I to be?  Who, and where, is the authentic leader in me?

Given the breadth of history that covers the individuals named above, I doubt whether any of them sat down and said, “now, how can I be more like Mother Teresa?”  Instead, and I’m guessing here because I don’t have access to their interview notes, they would probably say “I just did what I thought was the right thing to do.”  Or, “it just came naturally to me, I let my conscience be my guide.”

While reading about the life and times of leaders from the past is always interesting, I think we should all spend more time on searching for the authentic leader inside us all – our ‘true north’ as Bill George says. 

We should spend less time getting to know the famous leaders of the past, and more time in getting to know and understand the present ‘me’.

As a start to that process, consider the following questions:

  • When am I at my best as a leader?
  • Who do I lead, and how do I do that?
  • What do my followers need from me that will help them succeed?
  • Under what circumstances do I feel ‘in flow’? 
  • When does leadership come easy to me?
  • How would my followers describe me?  What would I like them to say?
  • What are my prominent values?
  • What is my core value, that value that has been part of me from as early as I can remember?
  • Are my followers seeing the real me, or just an imitation of someone else?
  • Where am I leading others to?  In what direction am I heading?
  • Is this the best way for me to be leading right now, under these circumstances?
  • Why do I want to lead – for recognition, status, material gain, or to serve others?
  • How did I arrive at this point, and what do I need to do from now on? 

We are all special and unique.  Unfortunately, many leaders and managers with whom I interact have never taken, and will never take, the time to understand what is special and important about them and what they do each day.  And that’s a shame.

Don’t we owe it to ourselves to understand and appreciate that most important person – ourselves?  When we have answers to those questions listed above, we can start to understand our true purpose as leaders and managers of individuals and organisations.  And while there might not be books written about us, we will know that we know.  We will know that we operate from our position of conscious competence, and conscious confidence.  We will know that we are leading in the manner that is required and which best reflects our true self.

And isn’t that the leader that I am meant to be?

All the best

Sunday
May112014

Have You Seen This Movie Before?

At the start of this year, I’m sure many of you made your annual resolutions to do better in a range of interests, activities and responsibilities.

How did you do?

You are closing in on the second half of the year and it might be a good time to stop, take stock and review your progress against those targets and objectives that you set yourself.  For some of you, in some of your objectives, you might be able to say that you did, indeed, make significant and observable strides towards your goal, or goals.  But for others, you might have to say that you have “seen this movie before.”

You know the feeling . . .  you settle down to a night of entertainment, TV guide in hand and you pick a movie.  The title seems vaguely familiar but you are not quite sure.  The program information seems interesting, entertaining, informative, amusing, thrilling, intriguing, etc. – you pick your own adjective to suit your mood – and so you begin.

Some way into the program, you realise that you have seen this all before.  It all comes back to you and you remember that you enjoyed it the first time around and so “why not again?”  You could get up and change channels or leave the theatre, but it’s easier just to sit back and get comfortable.  Why bother?  It will be OK, I’m in comfortable surroundings, there’s nothing better to do.  She’ll be right.

But at the end of the two hours, you might find yourself feeling somehow empty, unfulfilled.  You could recite some of the lines, you welcomed the characters like old friends, you knew how the story would unfold, and you watched as it all happened again.

Some will relish the feeling of comfort – no surprises, no sudden twists that stretch the mind, and a conclusion that leaves you in familiar surroundings.  But let’s be honest.  Are you ever going to get that two hours back?  Has the experience added anything to your life or knowledge base?  Have you moved forward in any way?  Where are you now in relation to where you started?

Now let’s look back over the last six months.  Have you seen this movie before?  Are you further along than you were in January?  Are you a passive member of the audience?  Are all the characters the same?  And does the story line unfold in that familiar way?

Or, do you feel refreshed.  Your movie was a brand new experience.  You are in the Director's chair.  You met new people, worked with new teams on exciting and challenging projects, you took steps forward in the way you managed and led those who you serve.  You can recall the way the plot developed, how you were confronted with new story lines, and how you dealt with each one.

Take some time to reflect on progress against your goals.  Have they slipped away and you are ensconced in “same old, same old”, or are you moving into new territory and challenging yourself in new situations?  Are you repeating those old habits that you were trying to let go, or have you taken on a more productive approach to your work, your business, your career, your life?  Are you doing new things, or at least doing the same things differently?  Have you retired from the neck up, or are you continuing to develop new and challenging interests?

Time, like the arrow spent, can never be recalled

Now, let’s see.  You have just over six months.  What are you going to say come December 31st

“I’ve seen this movie before and no matter how many times I see it again, it will always end the same way.  Nothing new to report, I’m marking time, I’m about where I started, and I’ve wasted my time.”

Or?

“That was a great show, and I’m looking forward to what comes next.  I grew my field of merit, got my money’s worth, and I can’t wait for the next episode.  By this time next year, I’m going to be a lot further along my growth path, enjoying new doors opening, exploring new opportunities and living my life.”

It’s all down to you and your intentions.  You choose.

All the best

Wednesday
Mar262014

Those Career Questions That You Need To Ask

This is the second part of a two-part note on managing your career direction.  The first part, “That Career Direction You’ve Been Thinking About”, focused on some of the larger concepts surrounding you taking charge of your career.  This second part reveals some of the important questions that you can ask yourself, depending on your situation and mindset.

Whether you are changing direction or checking your current path, the following might be useful for you.  I have provided a short list of questions that you can ask yourself and, while these are not exhaustive, they might stimulate your thinking and generate other great questions that you can call your own.

 

My situation

  • Am I giving time enough to myself and my career plan?
  • Do I have a plan, or am I leaving it to fate?  How is that working for me so far?
  • At what time today will I sit down in a quiet spot where I can reflect on myself, my career, my future, my aspirations?
  • What is more/most important to me at the moment – money, status, influence, outcomes, span of control, responsibility, accountability, personal/professional growth, career advancement – and is that need being met in my current circumstance?
  • What appears from my reflections?  Are there any apparent trends or surprises?
  • If I was going to give my best career advice to someone who is important to me, what would it be?  Do I follow that advice?
  • Who else but me can do anything about my situation?

 

Where are my head and heart?

  • Am I eager to arrive at work each day, or is my current job something that I don’t look forward to?
  • Have I left my job, but I just haven’t left the building?
  • What am I feeling right now?  How do I want to feel?  What might I feel if drive my career in a different direction?
  • Is my current state of mind just a temporary thing, or have I been thinking about this for a long time?
  • Am I running away from something or toward something?

 

Why is there ‘static’ in my life?

  • Does everything seem ‘in sync’, or is there some ‘static’ in my life at the moment?
  • What is that ‘static’, how would I describe it or characterise it?
  • What are my values, and are they being met?  If not, what does that mean to me?
  • Are any of my principles being compromised?  Which ones, how?
  • Is this job addressing my needs?  If not, what is missing for me?
  • What is it that is right, and isn’t right, about my job?
  • Is it the job itself, the people around me, the organisation, or the industry in which I work?

 

My options

  • What skills do I have and what jobs, other than my current role, could I apply those skills to?
  • What alternative job opportunities occur to me when I apply my skills set in a broader context?
  • Am I looking for the same job in a different organisation, or a different job in this organisation?
  • Is there something else that I am meant to do?  What might that be and where do I find that?
  • What is my plan, what resources do I need, and when will I commence each phase?
  • What industries do I want to work in, and not work in?  In the industry/ies that appeal to me, what organisations would I want to work for, and not work for?
  • Why should I go/what would I gain?  Why should I stay/what would I gain?
  • What if I choose to do nothing?  What if I do something?  What difference would either option make to my life?
  • What is at risk if I choose the ‘do nothing’ option?

 

Decision time

  • What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
  • When will I start work on my new job, that is, searching for a new job?
  • What will I do – first, second and third?
  • How will I re-energise when things don’t work out?
  • How will I learn from my mistakes and successes along the way?

 

Action

  • I will sit down to reflect on my situation, focus on head and heart, and identify any static that might exist on M/T/W/T/F/S/S at . . . . . am/pm.
  • My career goal and my clear focus during the next six to nine months is to . . . . . .
  • My personal skills audit reveals the following attributes that I can apply to a range of existing and new career opportunities . . . . . . .
  • I will start to manage my situation immediately and the first thing I will do is . . . . . . . The second thing I will do is . . . . . . . . . , and the third step I will take is . . . . . . .
  • I need to remember . . . . . . . . . . . . when things don’t work out, and I need to notice . . . . . .  that I can congratulate myself on.
  • The three people with whom I will consult who I know will give me their fearless opinion are (1) . . . . . . . . . . . (2) . . . . . . . . . , and (3) . . . . . . . .
  • Three great questions that I can ask each of them are: (1) i/ ii/ iii/    (2) i/ ii/ iii/    (3) i/ ii/ iii/  
  • In my current role I need to do/focus on . . . . . . . .  that will reflect positively on my professional approach and reputation until the time that I leave.

 

If you would like to discuss your situation confidentially, please email me or phone me on +61 425 224 943 to arrange a time to chat.

 

All the best

Friday
Mar142014

That Career Direction You've Been Thinking About . . . . 

"If you don't make your mind up soon, you'll end up where you are going."  - Irwin Corey

In the course of my work, I regularly (more often than you might think) meet with individuals who are obviously not happy with their jobs, can’t see the forest for the trees, feel like they are being sucked into the mire, are sick of the organisational politics, are going through the motions each day, can’t remember what attracted them to the job in the first place, etc., etc.  I’m sure that you have seen friends and colleagues in the same boat.  Maybe this even applies to you right now.

For the most part, and not in every case, those who decide to do something and take charge of their career often comment: “I don’t know why I didn’t do this a long time ago.”

So, what is getting in the way of dealing with this issue in a more timely way?

Over the course of the next two blogs, I am going to focus on this important area from two perspectives.  In this edition, I am going to talk about some of the larger concepts surrounding you taking charge of your career and, in the next edition, I will provide you with a series of questions that you might find useful in guiding you through this important time.

Give time to yourself, you are that important and you devote much of your time to work and your career.

Pay attention, recognise that there is something amiss or out of synch.  Many of us turn up for work each day, go through the motions, and then head home again dissatisfied and not firing on all cylinders, but we never realise or acknowledge that something needs to be done.

Identify what it is that you want from a job, a career and an organisation and write it all down or it will remain a jumble in your attic.

Be curious about yourself, your feelings, your moods, keep a journal.  Understanding who you really are and what is going on at the moment is vital to your next move.

Decide to do something, or nothing.  “Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery, and today is a gift – that’s why we call it the present.” (author unknown).  If you choose to do nothing, you cannot complain anymore about your lot in life – you have made your decision.  If you choose to do something, then do it.  Don’t procrastinate.  If you do, it is probably an indication that you aren’t sure about moving.  Take charge of the rudder, rather than being blown about in the wind.

Don’t talk to too many people.  Talk to people who you know will give you a fearless opinion.  Going opinion fishing by talking to a lot of people is really just searching for someone to give you the answer that you want and that you already have in your mind.  You seek comfort in the confirmation of your intentions but you risk getting confused by different perspectives and advice.

Make searching for a job your new job.  Have a plan.  Are you changing jobs, or switching careers?  Don’t expect opportunities to fall into your lap.  Create activity – that creates opportunity and things start to happen.

Stay in your current job while you search for a new one.  It’s easier to get a job when you have a job.  A desperate vibe becomes evident to others when you have nothing to fall back on, and your negotiating position is weak.

Get busy.  Get your CV in order and tap the network, or start networking.  If you find networking difficult, understand those times when you are at your best and just do it.

Persist, persist, persist.  You might have decided to leave your current job, but your next opportunity might not be ready for you just yet.  Be positive – your new organisation is out there waiting for you.  All you have to do is go and find it.

Don’t be seduced by early success but, at the same time, don’t overlook the possibility that good luck has found you.  It’s too easy to take the first thing on offer when you should be objective and unemotional about the offer. 

Make your decisionGrab it with gusto and leave with class.  Don’t burn bridges that are important to you but don’t waste your time on issues that are un-deserving of your attention.

Reflect on yourself, the process and enjoy the moment.

 All the best