Making Talent Management Work

"Talent management is a system, not a series of stand-alone processes."

No organisation can afford to put talent management on the backburner. The loss of experience as the baby-boom generation retires, the overall shortage of talented leaders, the absolute need to engage and retain high-potential employees at every level of the organisation, and an environment which demands that organisations continually do more with less, all combine to make talent management a Board-level priority.

How do organisations get it right? What lessons have we learned over the years? In reviewing their own talent management agenda what questions should those at the organisation's helm be asking?

Talent management is an organic system

No matter who holds the title the CEO is, and must be, the organisation's Chief Talent Officer. Line and functional leaders who see talent management as a secondary priority quickly become a business liability.

Talent management is an organic system, not a series of stand-alone processes. And like any system the whole can never be stronger than the weakest link. Business leaders who fail to align the talent management system with the emerging business context are destroying value. Top teams that support investment in only one or two aspects of development and retention of the internal talent pool and who fail to aggressively address shortfalls in the rest of the system are sowing the seeds of tomorrow's mediocrity.

The dilemma: leadership myopia all too easily leads to the assumption that positive feedback around one process is a valid indicator of the health of talent management in the organisation overall. Unless they are an integral part of the talent management system interventions such as 360º feedback, climate surveys and/or mentoring, no matter how well-supported initially, are destined to become yet one more administrative burden.

The cultural journey

Talent management starts with a robust understanding of the cultural journey. To truly make an impact talent management has to focus on "the organisation we need to be become." Working to become ever better at who we are and what we do (talent management that reinforces the status quo) is to orchestrate tomorrow's missed opportunity.

Although both are important, there is an important difference between climate and culture. Climate is a measure of how people feel about the organisation at a specific point in time. Culture describes the underlying systemic pillars that shape behaviour over the long term. Talent management means insight into and action around both.

The engine of talent management

The engine of talent management is talent acquisition. If the talent acquisition process is found wanting, every other talent management process is marginalised. One of the implications is that the value proposition of those charged with supporting talent acquisition (e.g. executive search) must move beyond "We know the market place better than anyone else."

Capability must encompass areas such as cultural measurement, role-specific competency profiling, team fit, leadership assessment, and executive integration. All these must be complemented by the broad range of skills and resources needed to enable the firm in question to become a full partner in supporting the organisation's talent management actions.

The team is the basic building block of organisation growth. The challenge: if the performance management process, compensation approach, talent acquisition outlay, succession work and internal focus on coaching do not embrace the team much of the effort and investment in talent management is for naught.

The coaching conversation

There is value in separating the performance discussion from the ongoing and complementary performance coaching conversation. The former is periodic, focuses on the achievement of goals (or otherwise) and sets out the coaching agenda. The latter is ongoing, and is about delivering that which has been agreed in the performance discussion (the coaching agenda). The most effective performance management processes balance "the what" (outcomes) with "the how" (behaviour aligned with the organisation's values).

Coaching has to become an integral part of every leader's thoughts and actions. Put simply, a leader who can't coach can't provide leadership; he/she isn't creating the space for talented employees to exploit their own potential.

Successful coaching is ultimately measured by the extent to which the employee moves to the next level of performance. In many instances this means helping the employee/team reframe outdated/dysfunctional mindsets. Coaching that makes a difference focuses, in the first instance, on what is working, no matter how embryonic (leveraging strengths, delivering affirmation, building pride, reinforcing early success).

Coaching is an integral element in the talent management system overall; the coach must model the leadership behaviour implicit in the emerging culture and deliver in-the-moment feedback and affirmation, all while continuously coaching the team. With that in mind, the wider value of the external coach (consultant), beyond coaching leaders in how to coach and/or supporting the accelerated growth of high-potential employees, needs to be regularly challenged and evaluated.

The succession process

When it comes to succession more is less. Succession work that makes a lasting difference focuses only on those leadership roles that are truly mission critical. The succession process must also take into account the future competitive environment; only then can the organisation start to understand which of its leaders have the skills, knowledge and development potential to succeed tomorrow in the (mission critical) role he/she holds down today.

There is a profound difference between succession and replacement strategies: a leader in a mission critical role who isn't actively developing both for their own role is failing to fulfil their fiduciary responsibility.

Leadership workshops

Leadership workshops supporting individual development must be seen as a reward for performance excellence, not a right that goes with the individual's role or level in the organisation. Leadership workshops make a difference when the content is valid and accessible; when the "customers' voice" is an ever-present subtext; when the learning challenges participants emotionally; when the level of abstraction contained within the material is aligned with the "conceptual horsepower" of those attending; when adequate time is set aside to challenge the ideas and views presented; when ideas, dialogue and practice are given equal weight; when reflection is part of the mix; and when the skills introduced have immediate practical application.

Although measuring success is important, not everything delivered by the workshop can and should be measured. In addition to delivering "What to do differently on Monday," it is often important that leadership workshops strive to change the way participants see the emerging business challenge. Reframing mindsets, offering participants a new lens through which to see the world, and challenging established assumptions are characteristics of success that don't fit easily on a spreadsheet.

Finally, in that real learning doesn't begin until the participant returns to the workplace, there is a strong correlation between on-the-job follow-up and return on the investment made.

A "power to" approach

Talent management that thrives emphasises a "power to" rather than a "power over" leadership approach. This speaks to transparency, risk, and allowing talented leaders to have a real say in the development journey being charted. No less important: excellence means keeping it simple!

Talent management isn't new. Indeed, scratch the surface of any organisation that has sustained outstanding performance and you will find that talent management has played a large part in that success. The talent challenge per se may not be a recent concern but the urgency and need to get it right have never been keener. And the environment has never been less forgiving to those who stumble.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Judging The Quality Of Executive Management

Financial analysts were among the first to express interest in a rating system for the quality of a public company's senior executive management. Governance observers and activist shareholders won't be the last.

As free-market influence continues to shift from institutions to individuals and from manufacturers to end-user consumers, investors and market watchers are tracking executive leadership as never before. After all, in such volatile economic times, everyone's looking for an edge, and everyone's looking for the team of business leaders with all the right stuff to create long-term value.

It's easy to spot the problems and it's easy to spot the leaders and teams that no long-term investor should bank their future on. Yet selecting the right management teams to invest in remains a challenge. That is, unless you boil down the criteria for measuring "quality of management" to one of its most essential elements.

Consider the views of business management writer Tom Peters and American consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader - yes, an odd pairing but one grounded in common views of what companies should produce in addition to products, services and profits.

A quote attributed to Peters goes: "Leaders don't create followers; they create more leaders." And to Nader: "The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers."

Many people will tell you that it's not difficult to find a Chief Executive Officer who says one thing and does the other. Just read the business headlines in any media on a given day and that statement may be readily reinforced.

The real test - and no small concern for the long-term investor - is whether the Chief Executive Officer of any going business concern has surrounded themselves with an exceptional management team. The strength and performance of a high-performing senior management team is one critical demonstration of organisational potential. A CEO must be both humble and smart enough to realise that the calibre of the people around them will dictate success or failure.

Just as the business leader must carefully choose who is up to the test, so too, should global investors dig down and do their own due diligence on whether enterprise sustainability and competitiveness can rely on superb management bench strength.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Helping Executive Job Seekers Get To Where They Want To Go

Where exactly do you want to go?

This is the pivotal question for executive job seekers to consider as they attempt to differentiate themselves in the highly competitive waters of management transition these days, and the critical question for prospective employers to establish.

For too many proven and aspiring business leaders, their résumé or C.V. simply doesn't balance their experience, credentials and management accomplishments with that all-important statement about their 'Objective' and their ideal next role, employer and preferred locale.

We can discern much about a person's abilities by reviewing their work history and the roles they've held over the years. But alas, not even the best executive recruiter or corporate hiring manager, for that matter, can establish where a talented leader wants to go and do next unless the job seeker has taken the time to write this 'Objective' statement into their résumé or C.V. It is, after all, the only forward-looking statement the job seeker might include in such documents.

For the job seeker, it's incumbent to state one's business case clearly and succinctly so the parties to the recruitment process can quickly and accurately establish their fit for the role requirements, given they may have many other candidates or applicants to consider.

Don't just tell us where you've been and what you've done.

Tell us something about the role you believe is your right next step and why. Tell us which business challenges you can help us overcome. Tell us about the strengths you bring and tell us something that proves it. Tell us where you want to go, and let us connect you with opportunity:

 


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Cultivating Diversity And Inclusivity In The Workplace

The pressure to increase diversity in the workplace continues to rise across sectors and is a prime focus for business leaders around the globe.

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

Diversity in the workplace encompasses many dimensions, including race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability and sexual orientation; it can also include differing personality characteristics, thinking styles, experiences and education levels.

Inclusion means that the organisational culture and practices make employees of diverse backgrounds feel welcome, accepted and treated equally.

Numerous studies have shown that cultivating diversity and inclusivity in the workplace makes good business sense. For example, McKinsey’s workplace diversity study, "Delivering Through Diversity", found that companies whose executive teams rank in the top 25% of racial and ethnic diversity are 33% more likely to reap financial returns above the national median for their industry. Diversity has also been shown to be a key driver of innovation, creativity and productivity.

Attracting and retaining top talent

Most importantly for HR professionals and recruiters, a diverse and inclusive workplace is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. Candidates are drawn to diverse organisations because it signals that the employer values people's differences and treats their staff equally. When it comes to retention, a culture of inclusion will make top talent feel valued, heard and understood.

Diversity is particularly important to younger employees. A 2019 survey by U.S. consultancy John Zogby Strategies found that 51% of millennials and generation Z agree that a "fair representation of race, ethnicity and religion is paramount to creating the ideal workplace." Forty-eight percent of generation X (40-54) and 42% of baby boomers agree with that statement.

The path to diversity and inclusion

Companies that have invested in diversity and inclusion over the years are reaping the rewards. The path to diversity and inclusion starts with moving it from an HR initiative to a business strategy. While this strategy may look different at every company, the key elements are:

  • C-suite support.
  • Employee commitment and collaboration.
  • Improving diversity in recruitment.
  • Fostering inclusiveness in the workplace.

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is no easy feat but it's clear that this is the way forward. How you screen and source talent, conduct interviews and onboard new employees are all opportunities to integrate diversity into your processes. Put simply, the companies that do this well will outperform others as recognised workplaces of choice among top talent.

Adapted from "Leading the Charge for Diversity and Inclusion" by Frank Galati.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Business Networking Now A Bigger Corporate And Career Imperative

The rigours of executive leadership in today's global economic climate have made continuous business networking an imperative for savvy corporate managers in every function and industry.

Solving new challenges and putting out complex organisational and political fires on a daily basis remains a reality. But increasing pressures for performance, new competitors, tougher markets and stressed budgets may linger and help shape a certain new reality in which to manage and lead.

Technology now enables business networking as never before. However, the biggest obstacle to making the most of it is failing to institutionalise it into one's regular business activities. So, in many cases, business networking and the intellectual capital it might provide falls to the bottom of a continually expanding agenda.

But this lack of executive commitment to executive networking may come back to haunt the overworked business manager at that point in time when they decide it's time to begin exploring new career options.

Farmers know you reap what you sow. So, too, must even the most career-confident business leaders see business networking and the continual launch and cultivation of trusted business relationships - face to face and online - as a form of career insurance.

Business networking, therefore, is indeed both a career and business imperative, not to mention a treasure trove of incredible experience and perspective with which to see through even the most opaque of business dilemmas.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Building Your Legacy One Day, One Decision At A Time

How will you be remembered? Few questions delve deeper into global leaders' emotions, self-identities and ambitions. Few inquiries beg the kind of reflection that's required of each of us to sort our personal and professional priorities.

It's been said that time is the harshest critic. The older we get, the more we can appreciate the truth in that simple statement. Yet, as we rise to meet each day, there are decisions to be made about where we will focus our time and efforts. Unfortunately, it seems there is ever more that remains outside our control.

The decisions we make, how we make them, and their impact on others within our enterprises are the very stuff from which our legacies will be built. The time we devote in service to others. Our care and concern for the young and less fortunate. How we act, what we teach and expect of others.

Each of these will fall in the ledger books, either to cast doubt on our abilities as leaders, or in the good column that will magnify our good works and commitments and ethics as examples for future generations, be they in our family or our institutions or workplaces.

The matter of legacy, therefore, really is nothing more than a stringing together by others of the consistent stands we may have taken as business leaders - the things we committed to and the situations that demanded our best and got it when fate fanned the flames of courage and persistence.

We all want to be remembered in glowing terms. When we're gone, we'll each have absolutely no say in the matter. That's why the present is so important.

Today is critical, because it may be the timing of someone else's crucible - one we might help them struggle through and overcome if we make ourselves available to serve others. For some leaders, the best shines through when our respective backs are at the wall. And haven't we all felt that way on more than one occasion over the past year?

It's not too early to consider what our lives and careers will amount to when all is said and done.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Building Lasting Corporate Strategy In A Short-Term World

Too many business leaders are focused almost exclusively on the here and now, the short-term, and the next quarterly report to shareholders.

Too many organisations have little to no institutional memory and further confound that condition by failing to prepare for the transfer of institutional knowledge to a new generation of leaders.

Too few leaders are focused on the long-term.

Yet, while lingering economic uncertainty has forced many short-term decisions, at the heart of corporate strategy is a commitment to do what's right for the organisation - be it measured in financial or human capital terms - over the long run, measured over a period of years. The essentials of organisational culture and consumer value, after all, are measured over decades, not minutes nor even months.

As the question of global sustainability grows ever more closer to corporate balance sheets, corporate strategy must also be sustainable. Given the complex business, societal, government and natural challenges standing in the way of progress and growth, there is no room for short-termism.

Decisions today, if they are made with corporate strategy and sustainable value in mind, should be felt years from now and measured in business gains and investor confidence over the long run.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Balancing Data And Judgment To Achieve Strategic Goals
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It's been said that data provides a view of what's already happened but it cannot inform smart enterprise decision unless it is combined with executive judgment, perspective and experience.

That may be common sense to most global business leaders. Yet if one considers the potential impacts of 'Big Data', crowd-sourcing, AI and viral consumer trends, the threat of being swallowed up in a sea of data is a reality for many executives charged with making big decisions for their organisations.

With the pressure for results more acute than ever before, it would be easy to sit back and let data and data analysis point the way when what's really needed may be a carefully balanced, ongoing and detailed review of data followed by a pause so clear, decisive human decision-making can be engaged.

So what's required of global business leaders in the age of unprecedented amounts of data?

  1. An appreciation of data's potential as a tool for revelation and discovery, and, at the same time, an understanding of data's limitations.
  2. A conscious decision - really, a commitment to oneself as a leader - not to be bound or incapacitated by copious amounts of data, no matter how slick, interesting or sexy it may seem on the surface.
  3. A commitment to focus on time. That is, not to spend too much valuable time overanalysing data or contemplating how one might act in the face of such data points. Rather, to stand ready to invest just enough time to understand the data and just enough time to consider the non-data variables of a given business challenge or market opportunity.

We are living in times in which technology has made our lives, communications and work more convenient and collaborative than ever before. And there are more tools at our disposal to make sense of market trends, consumer behaviours and strategic options.

Let's take those and use them to their full application, while at the same time reminding ourselves that the call of global leadership is a call to step back, digest the data at hand, and apply all that we know and have learned as managers to apply sound managerial judgment to make the best decisions.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Ability To 'Read Between The Lines' Becoming A Critical Leadership Skill

One of the little things that may make all the difference in terms of sorting the winners from the losers in today's global business climate is a leaders' ability to 'read between the lines'.

That is, can the individual leader look at a checklist and see what's not written on paper? Can they sort through a job candidate's resume and interview to determine what's not being said? And can the boss sort through mounds of data, risk analyses and competitive reports to see what's missing?

Seeing what's already apparent to even the casual observer is easy. But thinking about a business challenge from a new frame of mind and seeing the influences on markets, consumers and organisations that others don't is becoming a vital skill for senior management.

Often, as many business leaders will attest, the most interesting thing that comes from an important business meeting is what's not said. So, too, today's culture of information overload may distract leaders from what's essential.

That's why a demonstrated ability to see clearly through the haze of economic uncertainty and beyond the typical data dump that precedes big decisions is a critical competency of senior leadership.

Understanding all the influences on a business decision is key, but seeing the potential of that same decision requires an unprecedented level of business savvy about what's not being said, what's not immediately apparent, and the potential customers and partners a company doesn't already know.

In the world of TMI (too much information), the best leaders appreciate that too little information about the unknown, the uncertain, what's really possible and how to get there can stifle innovation and fail to connect the enterprise to what it can achieve.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

A Vital Message For Emerging, High-Potential Leaders

Put a group of ambitious, first-time business leaders in a room together today and the discussion will likely turn on top-line revenue growth, the challenges of entering new markets, risk management and what politicians should do to stimulate economies.

Each of those deserves attention in this especially volatile global business environment, but perhaps none as much as the cross-functional performance lever that is 'talent management'.

No matter one's experience, education, functional expertise or industry, the ability to inspire and lead talented individuals and teams to higher levels of business performance is central to enterprise success, and will be for years to come.

Now more than ever before, talent management is everyone's business. It is the lever of human potential that can most influence organisational results. Yet it is one so often overlooked, or contained within the Human Resources Department or given only lip service by chief executives who talk about "people as our greatest asset" yet who have, at the same time, allowed archaic HR practices to tamp down progress.

If you're a business leader, you are indeed a talent manager, and must see yourself as such. This is especially vital for emerging, high-potential leaders who are the next generation of business leadership.

Ours is the epoch when talent, innovation and intellectual property are becoming the prime competitive resources through which business goals and growth are achieved.

Great people most often leave their bosses because those top managers aren't connecting the needs of superior talent with organisational priorities. Leading companies excel with progressive talent management practices and policies.

It's time for every manager to commit to talent management as a continuous cycle for renewal and repositioning in a business world whose tectonic plates are shifting faster and with more risk and opportunity at stake than ever before.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

A Shared Agenda For Leaders In Sports And Business
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When a certain sports executive recruited from one team to another team was introduced to the media in his new home city, he quickly shared a simple plan to turn around an under-performing team and make it a contender.

The two-part plan was this:

  1. Focus on effective talent scouting and recruitment.
  2. Focus on continual player development and performance measurement.

While these two sporting mandates may at first seem relevant only within the stadium's walls or the plush confines of the players' clubhouse, they actually represent a significant calling for business leaders across every industry and management function.

Business leaders must be skilled at partnering with lots of different people and personality types. Over time, one develops a keen sense of who fits, who's doing great work, and where certain individuals need to hone or acquire certain skill and/or experience sets.

It's this keen view of organisational talent that should move leaders to continually evaluate the talent he or she has and the talent they need. Scouting 'high-potential' prospects from within the enterprise - perhaps in another business unit, or at a lower level - and outside its walls is essential to build winning teams for the business. After all, the team with the best talent and team chemistry usually wins the field.

Of course, once you've promoted or recruited high performers, it's important to evaluate their performance and identify opportunities to stretch their talents so they can make an ever-increasing impact on the organisation. Any promising contributor or leader who is allowed to go 'static' when the task and opportunity ahead of them requires a continual escalation of skill-building will soon lose interest and become disengaged.

The winners in tomorrow's business markets are focusing on scouting and talent development today. Hopefully, these business mandates are on your agenda, too!


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

7 Rules For Attracting The Best Executive Talent
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Hiring companies that understand the recruitment of senior business leaders is a two-way street will be in the best position to compete in an increasingly global war for executive management talent.

That is because no matter how bright the future prospect for your business, the most exceptional candidates for senior management roles will assess whether it has the right stuff to magnify their performance and thereby bolster their career.

Hiring organisations must offer these seven benefits to attract top business leaders and get them to stay and perform at peak levels:

  • A great story (they want to be part of something special, compelling strategy)
  • Brands/products/services that are admired/profitable/have staying power (they want a platform for long-term growth)
  • An environment that speaks to personal growth (get better at what they do)
  • Work that has meaning (that's makes a difference)
  • Chance to join an inspirational leader (reputation for doing the right thing)
  • Wealth creation (financial security)
  • Effective board governance (leadership that takes governance seriously)

The first proactive step employers can take to spark the kind of gravitational pull necessary when it comes to attracting the best management talent is to develop a talent scouting strategy that can also evolve into a succession risk management tool.

The increasing globalisation of business and of employers both large and small pose significant questions about whether an organisation can leverage the same assets to attract exceptional management talent in other regions of the world. Creating the right compensation framework is a necessity to engage top leaders, but their fit has much more to do with their sense of satisfaction in a new environment.

Companies that assume they can attract great executive leaders are often the ones that can't make their own business case to potential recruits and who fail to attract the highest calibre management candidates in the first place.

The bar on what it takes to attract the best talent is being pushed higher. When and how employers recognise that and whether they stay or get in the game are issues that will surely redraw the competitive business landscape for years to come.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.