When Pushing Your People To Excel Reaches Its Limit

You probably already know - or perhaps even fit - this management type.

You know, the hard-charging Chief Executive who demands a tremendous amount out of their people, and even more of themselves.

If you have worked with and possibly even reported to just such a global leader, you may have found yourself thankful for the experience, humbled by their commitment and personal sacrifice, and changed in some meaningful way because of what they taught you along the way.

For many of us, these behavioural and character traits define the kind of business leader we want to work with and, perhaps, to become after witnessing the success they built and the fun they allowed themselves to have along the way. Hard work has its rewards, and these global leaders - these examples of hard work actually paying off - represent a great motivation to realise our own career potential.

Yet with the nose to the grindstone work mentality, this kind of leader creates comes the very real possibility - and organisational threat - of literally asking too much and getting too much from the same high performers in their organisation, leading to burnout and even hostility.

In many complex, global organisations these days, it appears that the lion's share of work is shouldered by the same, highly committed and equally gifted people to whom all the work typically flows when a valued team member leaves, retires or gets recruited away.

It is these 'go-to' people who have earned the trust of top management and who have just enough organisational authority to tackle key strategic initiatives. They are also often typified as the A-rate people in the company, and some of them also get labelled as 'high potential leaders'.

Yet it is this cream of the crop that is most vulnerable when such a hard-charging, Type A personality of a leader steps into a new role and a new company and, to paraphrases, "takes the bull by the horns".

The translation? We're going to work our tails off in pursuit of better financial results and returns to shareholders. In the unlikely event we don't hit our aggressive top line revenue number, these leaders swear, we will no doubt realise the corporation's profit targets. And you can take their word for that.

Some employees love hearing that. They are highly attuned to the challenge and thrive on it. Others shrink from it, or demonstrate some middling level of commitment to the company's goals, and the Chief Executive's vision.

Just be careful you don't push too hard. When everything seems like an immediate and top-level priority, tensions rise and confidence in the management team wanes. Go to your 'go to' people when you need them most, but also ensure that they're not working too much and wearing themselves too thin.

Even the best of your people have their limits. Challenge them to get up as close to those limits as possible, but also offer them a lifeline - a break in the action, when you have asked for a lot in a short amount of time. Your recognition of their sometimes-heroic efforts will keep them engaged and prepare them for the next corporate battle.

One Culture Or Many?

Is it possible for an organisation to have only one culture?

In a multidivisional organisation, it can be assumed that the different divisions will have somewhat different cultures. It's also the case that, even within the same division, the likelihood is that there will be subcultures (manufacturing vs. sales). And in the network organisation, different entities that do the same thing may well work (successfully) very differently. An international dimension only complicates things further. Where the businesses are very different there may well be a case to take a portfolio approach.

The assumption that different business entities - regardless of location, history, clock speed, product and/or customer base - should behave/operate in the same way is undesirable and unworkable. That does not mean that a degree of "oneness" cannot be achieved.

A common, compelling purpose, shared values, an overall push for diversity, inclusion, being customer-driven, a mutual philosophy around collaboration, the discipline that goes into talent acquisition, support for the local community, the need for candour, pooled best-practice and leaders who care can all build "sameness" while still recognising the value of "difference".

Conversely, attempts to enforce one approach with regards to, for example, compensation and/or talent management can create a degree of coercive tension that is less than helpful.

"Tight - loose" is a useful metaphor.

Tomorrow will be different. We know we have to organise and approach delivering value for the customer differently but we can't simply throw all the cards up in the air and start again. And how do we move forward if we can't change everything at once?

The answer? The "innovation garage" - a carefully chosen part of the business is parked separately to the rest of the organisation. The goal? With tomorrow's customer in mind, explore and experiment with:

  1. What it means to be customer-driven.
  2. Tomorrow's organisation design.
  3. Future technology.
  4. The most effective way to work.

In other words, create tomorrow's culture, today.

Attempts to build "one culture" may be a forlorn hope but it's important to identify and understand the different cultures involved.

Key question(s): Do you have one culture or many and, if the latter, how do you manage that difference?

Insights from "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis".

10 Candidate Questions That You Must Know How To Answer

Where the interviewee is truly a top candidate both parties are being fully evaluated. As a recruiter, there are candidate questions that you must know how to answer.

Although by no means replete, in some ways, the 10 questions outlined are an acid test of how prepared you are for the turbulent talent management path that lies ahead.

Head

  1. As a business, why do you do what you do? Specifically, where and how are you striving for excellence? How are you going about the latter? How will you be different five years from now?
  2. What makes the business special? Specifically, what are you doing to protect/nurture that capability? What concerns you most about doing what the competition is doing?

Hand

  1. How and in what ways is digitalisation changing the way the organisation does business?
  2. Assuming you have built a scorecard for this role, where is the greatest "stretch" demanded to meet future performance goals?
  3. Moving forward, what role-specific leadership competencies define success in this role?

Heart

  1. How good a coach is my new "boss"? Does this role build on and extend my core capability: talent, skills, and leadership competencies? Will I continue to grow and develop in this role? How and in what ways?
  2. What constitutes a great team in your organisation? How do you assess team effectiveness? How and in what ways is "team fit" central to hire and promotion decisions?

Spirit

  1. What are the organisation's espoused values? How do you live those values?
  2. What culture do you need to succeed tomorrow? How do you measure culture? What are you doing to make tomorrow's culture come to life in the room today?
  3. How and in what ways does the organisation give back? How do you make a difference in people's lives?

Insights from "Great Candidates Ask Great Questions".

Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis

"Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis" is a complementary book series, specifically aimed at enhancing how leaders respond to times of crisis.

The books cover concepts such as how to come out of this crisis stronger, culture, leadership agility and learning, what makes great teams. Also included are essential skills to enable us to start having conversations about moving forward while taking appropriate actions.

Read on for more information about the book series:

Or, Download Now

Coming Down the Mountain

Part One, Coming Down the Mountain, looks at how to come out of this crisis stronger:

  • The Three Stages of Crisis
  • Letting Go of Our Past
  • Following a Script From a Different Century
  • The New Normal
  • Coming Down the Mountain
  • Why Culture Matters
  • Next Steps
  • Appendix one: 3 X 3: Crisis, Culture and Change
  • Mindset Assessment: Will You come Out of This Crisis Stronger?

The Culture Conversation

Recognising, as we move forward, how important organisation culture is, Part Two outlines the Culture Conversation:

  • The Culture Carriers
  • Look, Listen, Learn
  • The Building Blocks
  • Culture Is A System
  • Is the Organisation Managing Its Culture?
  • What Makes the Business Special?
  • One Culture or Many?
  • Measurement
  • Strategy Versus Culture
  • A Team of Teams
  • Without Leadership You Ain't Got Much
  • The Orxestra Change Model
  • Culture Assessment

Leadership, Learning and Agility: The Way Of The Dolphin

Part Three explores the need for leadership agility and what that implies: Leadership Agility and Learning - The Way of the Dolphin:

  • Agility is a Way to Think
  • Bass and the Shark
  • Agility and Speed of Learning
  • The Way of the Dolphin
  • Conclusion
  • Assessment: How Good a Coach Are You?

Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams

Drawing on the reality that tomorrow's organisation will be a team of teams, Part Four examines what it means to be an outstanding team - Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams:

  • Who We Were is Who We Are
  • It's All About Culture
  • Organisational Lessons from Nature
  • The Organisation of Tomorrow
  • Building a Great Team
  • Team Assessment

When the Trees Get Bigger and the Forest Gets Deeper - It's Time To Sharpen Your Saw

Part Five moves beyond leadership as a philosophy and drills down into essential skills - When the Trees Get Bigger and the Forest Gets Deeper, It's Time to Sharpen Your Saw:

  • Are You The Leader They Need?
  • Assessing Your Organisation's Leadership Balance
  • If Ever There Was a Time to Listen - It’s Now
  • The Listening Tree
  • To Lead Is To Care
  • 50 Ways To Say You Care - In a Covid World
  • If You Are Not Living Your Own Story, You Are Living Someone Else's
  • Resilience Assessment

Download your complementary copy of "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis" from TRANSEARCH Downloads.

2020 HR Leaders Survey Results
bedfordgroup.com

In June and December 2020 The Bedford Consulting Group took the opportunity to survey Canadian HR leaders on how they were seeing their respective organisations change and what the lasting impacts might be, focusing on business performance, how we work, culture and leadership trends. The HR survey results provide valuable insight to help you approach and position your organisation for success in 2021 and beyond.

Read "2020 HR Leaders Survey Results" leadership insights

Do You Hire/Promote With "Tomorrow's" Culture In Mind?

The world of work is changing. And the very definition of "a job" is, perhaps, changing most of all. Structures, processes and tools honed over the last hundred years are starting to fail. Hierarchy and a command and control mindset are out of step with the need for agility. Strategy is an unreliable compass.

A decade from now the workforce will look very different. In that, literally, many of the jobs that companies will seek to fill a decade from now don't currently exist. Even our investment in training and development is open to question.

Into this maelstrom rides talent management. The metaphorical quarterback of talent management … who and how we hire.

Simply replacing a leader who leaves is to reinforce the status quo. External consulting support drawing largely on an expensive address, a nice suit, great marketing and a thick rolodex belongs in the past. A reliance on selection that ignores culture is to build a house on sand. And an executive who lacks mastery in the interview puts the business at risk every time they make a hiring decision.

Little is more important to tomorrow's culture than who the organisation hires and promotes. Go astray and there is no easy fix. Most leaders arrive at work to a full diary. The day-to-day and the immediate have a habit of overwhelming a long-term view. And yet, unless we create tomorrow today, the future will, inevitably, be little more than a replay of what has been. Count on it!

It's easy to find the "best" candidate. But, getting culture on the right track means identifying the "right" candidate. Not every now and then … but every time. Talent acquisition is about managing risk. Risk, in turn, is about fit. There are six critical elements of fit:

  1. Attraction
  2. Culture
  3. Performance
  4. Role-specific, leadership competencies
  5. Team fit
  6. Integration

All six elements of fit are essential but as disruption, uncertainty and new technology impact how business does business … culture is destined to become evermore important.

Culture Imperative: Who you hire determines what's possible. Hiring that has a "replacement bias" is to become more of what you have always been. In determining fit, measurement matters. Especially when it comes to culture and team. Money might attract talent but if you want to keep high performers give them a job that they love.

Insights from "The 7 Questions Every CEO Should Ask About Culture".

Story is Culture and Culture is Story

Tomorrow's successful leader will be someone who can slalom through the white water of unanticipated disruption and culture change. To that end, little is more important as a navigation aid than the organisation's story. That story has five essential building blocks:

1) Where are we headed?
2) What do we believe in?
3) What makes us special?
4) What is our brand promise?
5) How do we make a difference in people's lives?

Story is culture and culture is story. Yesterday, strategy informed culture. Moving forward, culture enables strategy. If you are not measuring culture ... you are not managing it.

Insights from "Speed of Learning: The Ultimate Competitive Advantage".

What Value Creation Should You Expect From an Executive Search Provider?

Taking talent acquisition to the next level

In a world marked by speed of change, doing what we have always done, better (value added) ... is not enough. The right search partner will deliver the ideas, capability and experience to help you take talent acquisition to the next level.

Without access to best practice, forging new ways to think becomes an uphill battle. Without new questions learning is limited. Where successful role models are missing, our extraordinary ability to copy what works cannot kick in. And when thought leadership is little more than "a consulting label", creating tomorrow today becomes a bridge too far. There is clearly a good deal to gain, therefore, from working with best-in-class, external resources.

7 critical areas of distinct value

At a minimum, in addition to sector expertise and international capability, the search provider must deliver distinct value in seven critical areas:

  1. Bring creativity and flair when it comes to attracting top talent.
  2. Help the client "measure" the culture they have today (roots) and the culture the organisation needs moving forward (wings).
  3. Leading-edge tools to build a robust, balanced scorecard for the position.
  4. Develop role-specific competencies for the role in question.
  5. Provide a meaningful process to determine team fit. As with culture, this implies measurement.
  6. Coach inexperienced line managers in how to conduct the interview.
  7. Bring support and appropriate tools to the integration process, and that means a good deal more than the perfunctory call to see if the newly hired candidate is doing okay.

The organisation's story underscores a successful hiring value proposition. Central to that story are the hiring organisation's values. Unfortunately, although the majority of organisations claim to have "organisation values," in many instances, they amount to little more than window dressing. To "win" top talent over even a great story may not be enough. A best-in-class search professional draws out why high performers stay and leverages that insight to inspire the candidate who is happy where they are.

The approach to measuring culture needs to reflect the context. By way of example, an organisation confronting transformational change faces a very different challenge to that of a successful business seeking to better manage the culture they have. It is also important - and especially so in talent acquisition - that the approach describes the cultural journey in business terms.

You can't manage what you don't measure. Talent acquisition devoid of a robust measure of the culture the organisation needs to compete tomorrow … amounts to little more than the hiring executive's "best guess." For a unique and compelling measure of organisation culture see - The A-Z Of Organization Culture. John O. Burdett (2017).

Developing role-specific competencies implies a library of relevant and up-to-date leadership competencies. It also means a proven leadership model that ensures that the competencies identified deliver "leadership balance." For a measure of leadership balance, see John O. Burdett, Attract, Select, Develop & Retain TALENT (2013). Balance denotes fit in four critical leadership areas:

  1. Direction,
  2. Discipline of Delivery,
  3. Development of people, and
  4. Day-to-day Dialogue.

This simple leadership template is the outcome of asking 15,000 leaders in 40 countries, "What do you NEED from a leader?" It is framed in The Orxestra® Methodology: the head (direction); the hand (delivery); the heart (development of people); and the spirit (day-to-day dialogue).

The best candidate vs. the right candidate

Talent acquisition cannot thrive in a vacuum. It's an integral part of the overall talent management system. If you hire great people and coaching is a hard-to-find skill, assume a higher attrition rate than might be expected. If "succession" is poorly thought through expect to go outside for talent more often than is good for the organisation's health. And if the leadership development agenda is found wanting, know that over-hiring for virtually every position will be a given.

The implications are profound. When the seven dimensions of distinct value (offered by the executive search provider) are either missing or short-changed and where the search is delivered as a tactical "replacement" - not as strategic and integral to the client's overall talent management system - the inevitable, default outcome is to hire the best and not the right candidate.

Uncovering the best candidate is, essentially, a beauty contest. It's the corporate version of the popular NBC talent show America's Got Talent. If they look and sound good, give them a ticket to Vegas. On the other hand, finding the right candidate is a matchless investment in building tomorrow's leadership bench strength … today.

Building a BRAND mindset

For many service providers business development is perceived as a kind of wrestling match … where the next sale, overcoming objections and asking for the order become the name of the game.

Delivering all of the elements of fit, landing the right candidate is predicated on a supplier/client relationship that goes beyond "winning the sale." It speaks of a trust-based partnership where long-term success is based on the search provider understanding the client's emerging business need as well as the client does. It defines a way to work where making the client's business better always takes precedence. It builds on a mindset where BRAND means Better Results And No Disappointment.

Successful business development ultimately draws on one simple question, "What do we have to do to ensure that the client views us not as a supplier but as truly part of their team?

Finding world-class talent requires a partnership with a trusted outside advisor. Visit TRANSEARCH International to discover our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and development.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".

The Key Challenges and Opportunities in Human Resources - A Study by TRANSEARCH Romania

"Never let a good crisis go to waste" as Winston Churchill famously said. COVID-19 and the impact on people, operations and business give us an impetus to develop fresh ideas in Human Resources and to review Leadership Skills.

During the last weeks we received valuable feedback from our clients and candidates; their approach to the ongoing changes, and how they intend to come out of this crisis even stronger!

We are delighted to share our findings with you. The original survey was conducted distributing a questionnaire; to over 300 CEOs, Managing Directors and Human Resources Managers in Romania and across Europe.

Key Findings:

  • Maintaining efficiency while working from home
  • Maintaining motivation and engagement
  • Improving organization's agility and flexibility
  • Leading through change with an entrepreneurial spirit underpinned by emotional intelligence
  • Need for profiles in Automatization/Robotics, Digitalization and Transformation/Change

For more information please visit TRANSEARCH International Romania on LinkedIn.

Critical talent management actions

Talent management is a system within a system: the organisation's culture. Get talent management wrong and the organisation's culture will be misaligned with the customer's emerging needs. Critical talent management actions to turn the organisation's talent management approach into a competitive advantage include:

  • Leadership development
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Storytelling
  • Performance management
  • Succession and replacement
  • Talent acquisition
  • Team excellence

Tomorrow, of necessity, talent management will be about resilience, reinvention and recognising that the ideal organisation design reflects how, given a choice, people would choose to work together. Investing in the most efficient way to develop talent, putting muscle behind the succession process and, generally, building a cadre of leadership talent, will allow your business to survive and thrive in turbulent times.

Insights from "Future-Oriented Leadership Competencies: Today's Talent Management Lynchpin" by John Burdett, Leadership advisor to TRANSEARCH International.