Ekta walked into my room looking totally disoriented and confused. As if someone had shaken her up. “All well?” I enquired politely and was taken aback by the intensity of response the innocuous question elicited “What does my manager think of himself? I don’t have what it takes to scale to the next level…..I work so hard to produce such wonderful results only to listen to stuff when it is time for my increment and promotion? This place just isn’t worth it!” Familiar I am sure, these and many similar statements – and feelings – at review time.
Let me capture 2 trends that have emerged over the last few – 2/3 – years :
– organisations have become far more demanding of employees. Boards expect more and senior leaders are under a constant microscope to create value. This percolates down and across the organisation. In times like these when supply of talent has out stripped demand, there is an almost immediate desire for results with little tolerance or patience. Naturally there is hardly – if any at all – focus in many companies on crafting these precious resources
– employee expectations are also changing and they now look for more challenging and meaningful work. Loyal to their professions rather than to the organisation, their emotional attachments are thinning. They are less accomodating of the traditional structures and authority matrix and prepared to take ownership of their careers and development. If they don’t who else will!
It is fair to believe that people lie at the core of competitive advantage. Organisations that have been renowned for their path breaking products, designs, sales and distribution initiatives will possibly attribute their leadership position to an ability to attract, develop and retain superior quality talent. There is a demonstrated relationship between better business performance and better talent making this intangible asset a huge part of a company’s value beyond its physical assets.
The above trends coupled with the significance of talent as the differentiator creates an interesting conundrum. What should be done do to have a great workforce? My experience guides me to suggest the following – some for the organisation and others for the individual :
– the recruitment process should be designed to filter the right talent in. Be clear on what you are looking for while hiring – success profiles, competencies, cultural suitability etc. In recent times there has been an over emphasis on an exact fit for the immediate role. Since situations keep evolving, this becomes a short term approach that compromises the person as well as the organisation. Good people can fit into a variety of roles and therefore having people from diverse backgrounds as part of the interview cycle acts as a reasonable insurance cover. Sustainability comes from acquiring broader capability beyond the here and now
– employee engagement with a view to coaching and guiding them towards continuous improvement plays such a crucial role in development. It creates a sense of belonging and bonding. From your perspective it is worthwhile to schedule periodic – say quarterly – feedback sessions with your manager and the other leaders you interact with. This ensures expectation are clear with little scope for surprises.
– a high performance organisation requires delivery from all levels in the hierarchy. Creation of a continuous talent pipeline is therefore such a big deal. Mid tier leaders are expected to shoulder this responsibility and seniors must ensure a disproportionate focus on the development of this mid tier through regular interaction and communication sessions, development plans, mentorship programs etc. Often mid tiers are not adequately focussed upon leading to insufficiency of pipeline
– even if the organisation does not offer a formal mentor program, you will be well served to establish your own mentors within and outside the organisation. People of repute, wisdom and gravitas to show you the way. This helps like nothing else would!
– it is always such a good thing to define your career objectives and understand your own self. Not easy at all but knowing where you want to head to gives you that extra edge to figure out how to shape yourself
Great organisations have talent strategy embedded as part of their business strategy. Most don’t and hence individuals have to be responsible for their own enhancements. Please do not neglect and have a plan to become a better individual each day. I realise this is a very deep topic and you will have views on how you would like to be groomed for bigger responsibilities. Will be great to share with the larger audience.