Tag Archives: development

Managing X and Y

A recent survey from the respected Economic Intelligance Unit highlighted attraction and in particular retention of top talent as critical to business success in 2010, behind only economic recovery and the availability of credit in terms of priority.

With 44% of employees now open to considering a move, how do you go about creating an environment that engages your key people, particularly those with different motivations?

Help is at hand once again from the fantastic people at BNET (www.BNET.com). Lynne Lancaster, co-founder of BridgeWorks, a generational diversity consulting company, explains how managers should deal with “Generation Y” employees who are impatient and demanding.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Talent

Succession Planning Crucial to Success

The Financial Reporting Council has published a revised version of the UK Corporate Governance Code.    This has an impact on all companies, not least in terms of how best practice is viewed and in particular the focus on ensuring succession planning and boardroom accountability is at the forefront of the boardroom agenda.

The code supports

  • The undertaking of externally facilitated board evaluations at least every third year.
  • The Annual Election of Directors
  • Highlights Gender as an important factor in making board appointments
  • Increased emphasis on the role of Chairman
  • The need for constructive challenge from Non – Executive Directors and the central role of the board in risk oversight

Benchmarking your board against recognised standards of best practice is a highly valuable exercise.  Understanding the make up and talent of your board and senior management is crucial to the long-term success of the organisation.  Yet according to a recent survey from Stanford University in the US more than half of those organisations questioned could not immediately name a successor to their CEO.

Worryingly only 50% of those organisations have a written document detailing the skills required for their next CEO and on average boards spend only 2 hours per year on CEO succession planning.

Only 54% of those surveyed are currently grooming a potential successor for the CEO.  What does that say to employees or potential employees about the opportunities for progression and development and the room for ambition that exists in the organisation?

The UK would appear to be slightly ahead on the issue of succession planning.  Not only has the change in the revised code meant that legislatively we are focusing on best practice.

As we move, albeit tentatively, out of recession, I am inundated with requests from customers in a number of areas, not least wanting independent evaluation of the performance of existing board members as well as looking to introduce new talent to their Non – Executive and Executive Teams to take advantage of improved market conditions and enhanced opportunity.

With strengthened balance sheets, many business are seeing now as the time to make the changes to take full advantage.    This is confirmed by a recent report from the Association of Executive Search Consultants who highlight 67% of search consultants anticipating an increase in revenues in the second half of 2010.

Despite rising unemployment, organisations are reporting shortages of talent and retention issues, compounded by research that suggests the number of Executives open to a career move is up from 21% in 2009 to 45% in 2010.  Those functions continuing to suffer from the greatest shortfall in talent are CEO, COO and General Manager with China India and Brazil experiencing the greatest scarcity of talent.

Succession planning is not something that should come as a footnote at the bottom of the board meeting agenda.  It needs to be on the table now.

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Filed under Careers, Corporate Governance, Recruitment

Jobs needed now, we cant afford to wait.

In the lead up to the general election I listened to a live radio show from Redcar, home of Corus and the focus of much media attention as the steel plant has wound down operations and made wholesale redundancies.  As one of the largest employers in the region and one that has turned out generations of steel workers, the questions to the assembled politicians inevitably turned to their plans to generate jobs in the region.

Much talk focused on the development of green technologies and wind farms in particular, a strong area for potential jobs growth in years to come.    However those who thought this would take the heat off the jobs argument were bought back  to earth by the observation from one of the audience, 27 years a steel worker.  In his view the undoubted skills he had acquired over 27 years were very specific to his industry.  He couldn’t afford to wait 5 years for new industry to come to town, he needed a job now.  He was fearful that he could not afford the time and money to re – train and anyway, “at his age”, nobody was going to employ him.  His views were real, raw, frightening and very much held by the majority.

An article I read made me reflect on the impact technology is having on the workforce.  I love innovation and had given much thought to the negative impact technology is having on employment opportunities.  The example in this particular article was a PA with some 20 years of administrative expertise who had been out of work for the best part of a year with little prospect of anything on the horizon.  The bosses that she had worked for over the years now arranged their own diaries, managed their own email, even typed their own correspondence!  Administrative tasks are now managed automatically or outsourced.  It’s not just those in “traditional” industries that are affected, it is all who are feeling the full force of the winds of change.

Whats the answer?  Our SteelWorker is right, 5 years, let alone 5 months, is too long to wait for a new job.  It’s not just about money, what about the massive social impact unemployment brings?  Government must align itself with the needs of its people and its businesses, to engage, to ask what skills are needed to thrive and to deliver the education and training needed to secure employment.  I mean real training, skills training, hands on experience.  Something akin to traditional apprenticeships.  Something that combines classroom theory with practical application.

The same can be said for employers.  Moaning about skill shortages whilst cutting back on training budgets is not the answer.  Engage with the communities in which you exist.  HR, get involved with schools, colleges, training providers, anywhere where skills are being addressed to ensure that those skills are meeting the needs of employers.    Recruiters, encourage employers to make attitude not experience the basis of hiring.  Encourage employers to give people with the right attitude the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.  This will have a significant impact on engagement, retention, performance and consequently the bottom line.

Life through rose-tinted specs?  Its possible, but who is going to pay for it?  The cost of giving people the right skills to get them back in the workplace and making a positive financial contribution to GDP far outweighs the cost to the public purse of paying unemployment benefit.   In a downturn investment in training is a soft target.  However in order to retain competitiveness we need to ensure training and equipping people with the relevent skills for not only tomorrow but today is top of the agenda for UK Plc.

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Filed under Job Creation

Identifying genuine management talent is key to success

I read an interesting article recently in which Ruth Spellman, the Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute, highlighted the CMI’s drive to sign up both private and public sector organisations to a Manifesto for a Better Managed Britain. This it would appear had come from a survey the CMI conducted, which highlighted some frightening statistics. More than half of all employees have quit a job because of bad management. Half believe they can do a better job than their boss. Perhaps most worrying was the fact that 85% of those surveyed did not trust the information they were being provided with by their managers.

This economic climate has created a lot of bad publicity for leaders, in particular from the banking sector, and redundancies always create an environment of mistrust and fear amongst workers. However the article got me thinking, is it that we are behind the rest of the world when it comes to management development or is it the way we select our managers that is actually the problem?

In many businesses I would argue that employees are picked for promotion on the basis of being very good at their job. The Sales Manager invariably has been promoted because he or she was the best Sales Person, not necessarily the person with the best Management Skills or potential. Does the best brick layer necessarily make the best Manager on a building site? Can a great Actor direct great movies? We can all think of examples of tremendous Footballers who have not gone on to make successful Managers. Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho never made it as professional footballers and yet are arguably two of the most successful managers in the modern game. By all accounts Sir Alex Ferguson was no superstar on the pitch, but his record as a Manager is unrivalled in modern times.

Back to the star Sales person who has been promoted to Sales Manager. Maybe he or she has great management skills and the company they are working for provide great management training, but they will be among the lucky ones, as will the staff that work for them. In this example, Leaders promote their top Sales person to a Management role with little formal training and expect them succeed. They then fire them because the sales force is de – motivated and under performing due to the lack of management expertise leading them and the Leaders are angry at the lost revenue stream caused by them having promoted the person who generated it. All of this pails in to insignificance when compared to the impact on the self-esteem of the new Manager who is lacking support, direction, achievement and understanding simply from being promoted in to a job that they weren’t equipped for.

In order that we can develop great Managers and Leaders and give UK plc the platform it needs to compete in the new world order, we need to give people a greater understanding of the leadership and management role and the skills you will require to be successful. We need to identify management and leadership potential at a very early stage in the individuals employment with an organisation. This requires significant investment in research to understand what characteristics truly work in Management (undeniably it varies between organisations).

Employees need absolute clarity of understanding as to what they need to achieve in order to move in to a Management role. Employers need to ensure that such objectives are entirely aligned to the strategic objectives of the business. However if the investment in gaining that detailed understanding of the strengths of your people is not made, then the cost implications are enormous. We need to invest in understanding our people far more, develop far greater rigour in our selection processes and be brave enough to pick out management talent from the crowd if we really want to deliver great managers and leaders.

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Filed under Talent