Talent assessment needs to evolve in big ways. Many clients know this and are making changes but I don't think they are substantive. As many large companies, Adobe, Accenture, GE and Microsoft to name a few, are changing their performance management system in substantial ways, we need to make the same big shifts in talent assessment and succession.
Complex, adaptive issues, disruption, shortening business cycle times, and the need for greater collaboration among more diverse employees means that assessing talent has become more challenging. It is no longer enough for someone to play well with their manager and direct team, though both are still an important metrics. More and more we need to ensure people manage well across more complex, matrixed organizations and influence people who may not be in their immediate sphere of influence.
To ensure that leaders are effective, up, down and across organizational borders (and global boundaries) talent assessment must better leverage collective intelligence. The direct boss should still have a say in who gets promoted. But select peers and superiors across the organization should also be asked to provide feedback. Sometimes I feel that the boss should have the least input because they have formal authority. There is a strong incentive for their direct team to “manage up” well. Delivering results for the organization and boss is an important ticket to entry, but it can no longer be the only metric for promotion. It is really how leaders act when they think no one is watching or evaluating that is much more informative. In talent reviews, leaders need to share and discuss a wider array of performance metrics, including:
Direct managers often don’t know all (or half) of this. But their colleagues across the organization do. This collective experience provides richer data and a more holistic view of a person’s real leadership impact. Organizations should set up talent management processes to capture and leverage it. There are lots of ways to gather collective intelligence in talent assessment but however you go about it, make it transparent and communicate it. In this way, you can create a level playing field and everyone knows what is expected. The way you assess and grow talent is culture creating – so it is worth the time to upgrade your system.
I am very aware that most leaders covet their ability to promote their best employees. When I discuss this more collaborative talent review process, clients most often tell me that they want to retain the decision on who to promote. I understand. And I know they may be short changing organizational performance by not considering a holistic approach. I also tell them not to try this more rigorous collaborative process unless they are willing to fully engage, listen and be open to changing their opinion.
Moira Clarke founded Leadership Consulting Partners 18 years ago to help companies advance their leadership and people systems. If you are reading this to the end, and you find value, please say so and share with others on LinkedIn and Twitter. Thank you!
This is the third and last post in a mini-series I am doing on performance management. I want to focus this post on the micro-moments throughout the year that allow you as a leader to practice developing others through recognition and positive feedback that are an integral part of creating a high performing culture.
One of the personality assessments I use more often these days is the Hogan Assessment. The leadership report includes development scales and potential “derailers”. It also includes a Motives, Values and Preferences Inventory that provides clarity on values and drivers. One of the key drivers the Hogan measures is recognition. This is about recognition as in being “known, seen and visible” for work well done. This measure is not really about money – there is another scale called “commerce” for that. Some of us really love recognition, others don’t need it as much. Like all measures of healthy personality, we fall somewhere along a continuum or scale.
I score slightly below the middle on recognition. It can be important to my feeling good about work but it has to be real and for significant contributions. I am not a person who needs it for doing small stuff. But when I do something really great, I love hearing about it.
Leaders should not underestimate the importance of knowing where they fall and where their team falls on this scale. It matters. If it is important to you, you should own it and let others in your circle know it. Many of the executives that I have worked with have at least a middle to middle-high need for recognition. And when they don’t get it, it can zap their energy. Especially when they report to the CEO or board. There is often not a lot of recognition happening at that level. Perhaps folks at the top think that the large compensation package makes up for low/no recognition. In my experience, our humanness and the needs that come with it, are hard to shake regardless of our pay grade.
Often when I ask a client if they have ever shared their need for positive recognition with their boss, they almost universally look at me like I am crazy. It’s a shame because if it is important to you, it should matter to your boss. It is also important to know your team member’s recognition needs. Simple questions at the start of working with them will allow you to customize the recognition you provide:
If you are still reading, you may be shaking your head and saying, “heck, no one has ever asked me about this and I still keep bringing my best.” I understand. I used to feel the same way. But then I saw all the research on positive feedback and recognition and started using it in my work and seeing how motivating it can be when done well and I am reformed. It now falls into the “duh” bucket because it can have such a positive impact on someone who values it and it is pretty much free.
It does take time to reflect, make it personal and meaningful. “Good job” does not cut it. Sharing specifically why something was good work, what it meant to you (the team, the enterprise) and why the contribution matters will make it powerful. Writing it down helps you fine tune it. The return on investment is worth it.
Moira Clarke founded Leadership Consulting Partners 18 years ago to help companies advance their leadership and people systems. If you are reading this to the end, and you find value, please say so and share with others on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.