I was at a conference recently and the session topic was
leadership development and succession planning. One of the participants, an HR
manager, raised her hand and asked: “We’ve recently implemented a talent review
process, so we’ve done a decent job assessing our leaders, but now we’re
struggling with what to do next. Do you have any suggestions?”
The presenter did his best to provide a few tips, but in
fairness, that’s a tough question to answer within the time allowed in a 60
minute conference session. It’s especially hard to provide a succinct answer
when you’re been doing it for so long - it’s easy to go off on a tangent with
so many aspects of leadership development. Believe me; I’ve made a few eyes
glaze over myself. Thankfully I have this blog as an outlet. (-:
leadership teams will ask, and most busy executives, especially those in
smaller, fast-paced companies don’t have a lot of patience for long lectures
and complicated theory. What they want is a checklist – or a menu - something
they can get their heads around, start implementing immediately, measure, and
start seeing results. That’s how they are used to running their businesses.
How about if we give ‘em what they want? Otherwise,
they’ll do what most organizations do – spend a lot of time identifying and
assessing potential leaders, and then drop the ball on developing those high potentials.
review. These are not all sequential – some are, and some are menu items to pick
Don’t wait to discuss development – do it at the same talent
review meeting. Instead of rating everyone on a
performance and potential matrix and then leaving the discussion of development
needs and actions for a follow-up meeting, as the team is assessing each
person, take a few extra minutes to summarize the person’s strengths and
development needs and 1-2 high impact development actions (from the list
taking notes, so the development needs and actions can be summarized and
distributed to the team as a follow-up.
a development discussion with each individual that was assessed.
While specific performance and potential ratings or “who said what” should
never be shared with employees, talent review discussions can be a valuable
source of feedback and input into a person’s development plans. The person’s
manager can let the employee how they are perceived, and make development
recommendations based on that talent review discussion.
Conduct formal assessments. Talent reviews are an
efficient and effective way to assess employees, but a 360 degree or behavioral
assessment will go much deeper and provide more specific and accurate feedback
to the employee and can be used for development planning.
an assessment “debrief”. Assessments are great, but the value of
an assessment is limited without a follow-up session with someone who really
understands the assessment and how to change behaviors.
Offer executive coaching. An executive coach can work with each
individual (in partnership with their manager) to help them implement their
development plans, be a sounding board, overcome obstacles, serve as a reminder,
and ensure new behaviors take root.
Offer a senior leader mentor (usually for high
Suggest subject matter experts for the person to work with
on specific development needs.
Offer to send the person to an executive development program.
Create a custom
development program for a group of high potentials. Assuming
there is a large enough group with common development needs (there usually
are), developing a group of high potentials at the same time, together, can be
a more cost-effective approach. Action learning programs are often used for
high potentials, where they work on real company issues and learn at the same
Discuss moving to a new role (in order to acquire the
skills and experience needed to prepare for next level opportunities).
Decide on a “stretch assignment” (challenging project) for
Recommend targeted reading.
leadership meeting or event one level above them (for exposure,
Suggest a person for the person to “shadow” (subject matter
expert, role model, mentor, different business or country, etc…) for a few
Give each person access to an online training library.
Recommend and help the person get involved in a non-profit or Board assignment.
or a conference to attend.
Establish ways for the person to get ongoing feedback.
Assign someone to collect and monitor all development plans.
Survey each person in 6 months to assess how they feel
about the level of development support they are receiving.
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