Succession with performers

There are almost certainly some people in your business who if you were to loose them you are just not going to cry about it. There will however be others who are the life blood of your business perhaps in Project or Executive roles and when they go, it will be a big problem!

In many businesses, succession planning for high performers and talent management is done through a process like making sure you have where possible, at least one off site a ¼ then having drinks with those people you’re a little worried about, to find out what the true story is around their ambitions

The problem with this kind of process and it may not look exactly like this, as it might be a six monthly thing, or you might get one of your team a person you know really well to find out things for you.

Consider four ways of ensuring you know exactly where people are up to on your team, so you don’t get nasty surprises.

  1. Setup agreements with your people so that you’ll let them know if you were ever going to make a move somewhere else with some decent notice and be specific. Ensure in this moment that they also commit to letting you know if they were getting itchy feet or wanted new opportunities, and make sure they commit to giving you the same notice period.
  2. When new people start after 4-12 weeks consider having an up front “Performance Management” style type meeting, this is not to tell them they need to pull their socks up, but more to set the scene for the future, and yes you might even address some tiny niggles early.
  3. Keep the dialogue open between all your team members and understand where your market is at. Are there many opportunities and head hunters calling daily in order to try and snap up your best people. Or is the market really quiet in your neck of the woods.
  4. Find out what your best people value most and make sure you are delivering them what they value. In Sales environments part of this might be about money, but ironically often it may be more about recognition, and often people miss this, until it’s too late.

Have a look at what Jack Welch from GE says about the treatment of people, and just have a think about whether

1) You Agree
2) If you do, is your business treating its people like this? If you don’t, do you have a process that’s really working?

If you are in a business where you often have your people leaving and whether they are good or bad start to look more carefully at what you are and are not doing to mentor your people. The true cost of most team member losses is hidden in many monthly financial reports, why is this?

Well in the past financial reporting has not been smart enough and even today is not able to track the “True cost” of losing a person. Below are some things to consider, the numbers are rough but start to have a think, if you are losing people its probably costing you far more than you imagined! Below the salary is only $70K and being conservative true costs might look like.

If we were to track the true cost to the business of people leaving you would need to consider things like:

Person Leaving Average Salary $70K = $6K per month

  • Recruitment Costs
    – Cost $8K
  • The time it took to get them to full competency (4 months)
    – Cost $24K
  • Time other people “Internal Trainers” spent to get them confident
    – Cost $15K
  • The time peers in the business spent with them (2 months)
    – Cost $12K
  • All the Managers time $120K Salary spent (2 weeks across a year)
    – Cost $5K
  • Loss of productivity from down time while you the role filled
    – Cost $10K
  • HR Team member costs
    – Cost $10K

Total Cost $84K

Now that’s only on the outgoing person who may have only stayed 12 month’s to two years, you will now need to incur all these same costs on retraining the new recruit and if you get it wrong again…

Performance Mngmt Why?

Performance Management – Why Get Good At It?

Over the past 10 yeas I’ve experienced many organisations where senior executives shy away from having the “Crucial Conversations”, the reasons are often similar.

“Look I don’t think you really need to “Fire” people, or its not really in our culture, we don’t feel its necessary to force people to change etc”

This entry is about why the better you are at Performance Management the better you’ll be at anything your business throws at you at all, in fact the better you’ll ironically be in your relationships outside the business also. At the end of the day if something in a business or any other relationship is not working if all parties concerned are not wanting to change or pretend they are when they’re not then stop wasting your time. When you consider implementing processes around talent identification and talent management seriously consider how good your best people are around the following areas.

Three Keys to Strong Performance Management

1) Consider a proper format

In some organisations development plans are a waste of breath and hence when someone falls down there is little if anything to benchmark it against other than their peers actual business metrics. This often though may not stack up though, as people often have excuses like, I deal with different clients, products or systems and hence its different for me.

In order for your personal performance development plans to actually be of use, keep them simple make sure you look at things like what are the top three key things to focus on?

  • Why are you falling down on them right now?
  • What knowledge resources or skills do you need to change this by Friday?
  • Are you prepared to make those changes?
  • Can you make them?

Either people can or cant do whats required in a Performance Management setting, lets be honest actually there is little in between. The problem most leaders have is a lack of courage to ask specific enough questions to ensure a proper answer and therefore result from the team member.

2) Ensure its self perpetuating

There is no point spending a whole lot of time working with a person then leaving them to work on themselves around an area only to find that later they go away and on Friday when you check they have done nothing. Performance Management work must be self perpetuating in the eyes of the person receiving the “Coaching” otherwise its nothing more than the kind of serious telling off your parents used to give you years ago at home.

In order to make Performance Management systems self perpetuating consider starting to get better at your own ability to communicate with people over tough things. Look at some managers who are naturally angry people, meet their children you’ll find anger. Then look at how they performance manage and you’ll see it was easy for them, they just had the meeting spoke very loudly and intensely, to the person until they gave in and agreed to everything asked of them. Then they went off and the employee went off to do his/her own thing.

“Problem is they then don’t, and nothing changes”

Many managers in fact believe that people “Cant” change which makes performance management a little tougher. Look at how good you are at your own tougher communication skills, how good are you at telling your best work mate they have screwed up so badly they have almost lost their job?

3) Understand the things that matter

In many cases managers are trying to council a staff member on something they themselves have no idea about.

For example selling 20% more of a product line in an area where the demographic is such that it cant be done. So they coach and coach then find unfortunately that it would have been much better to ask more questions up front, in which case they would have learned more about the problems being faced. The solution may actually be to sell a different product which can often then result in more revenue than that earned prior anyway.

Make sure you get skilled in the use of tough conversations don’t blame your team members, you are the one that needs to be able to coach them, if they are not performing then perhaps you are the one that needs to have a serious look in the mirror first, not them!

Psychometric Tools – Be Careful!

Make sure you get it right so your team becomes what it should be!

This post is going to cover a couple of key things about a tool called the Inventory of Work Attitude and Motivation iWAM and some other general thoughts on Psychometric type assesment tools used in some organisational change programs. When this tool was first introduced into Australasia we used it inside of many large organisations and had some great successes. iWAM had some real advantages over other tools in that it did not try to box people into one of four category types. Boxing people is not in of itself a real issue but when your final aim is actually to either:

  1. Change the behaviour of your teams
  2. Get your teams to learn more about each other
  3. Understand more about your people

Trying to bundle them all into one of 4 or 8 categories can be a great way of setting in stone what people think of themselves. For example tell someone they are best working with systems and processes and not people, how hard are they now going to try to get along with others?

What we liked about iWAM on the other hand is that it gave a scaled story on what the key drivers were inside a person. One of the great iWAM reports ranked people from their highest work preference to their lowest preference. For example some people are very focused on systems at work and perhaps on money or finance issues.

What has amazed me since I started my study into the field of Psychology 18 years ago was that almost all the other Psychometric tools excluding iWAM, seemed to just assume that the way a person behaved at work would be the same as that in other areas of their lives.

However this seemed to be contradictory to most people I knew who may be systematic at work but have a mess at home, or were extroverted sales people at work but at home around their loud partner they were submissive and more introverted.

When you are deciding on a Profiling Tool seriously consider the following 10 factors.

  1. What are you wanting the tool to do in your business or team?
  2. How many case studies does your proposed consultant have of clients you can speak with, who have had success?
  3. Does the consultant you are using have a formal degree in Psychology or a related discipline?
  4. If they are not professionally qualified how can you trust their judgment
  5. Do they have a website with case studies and significant independent research proof?
  6. What are you going to measure as success factors that actually matter to your business?
  7. How can you be sure that when your people know more about themselves this will benefit your business?
  8. Some organisations are talking about Qualitative and Quantitative measurement through tools like iWAM but what does this mean and how did they prove it?
  9. Once you choose a tool can you bench mark team members on the same graph to easily compare peoples strengths and use this information to buddy them up with people who have different ones?
  10. Finally are you going to get a serious return for your investment, one that can be ongoing and used by all your senior management team, and if not why not?

How are your best people going to use this information to get better business results in the next 4-8 weeks? The talent identification and talent management process often uses tools like these to be able to better identify and then use people operating in many cases far below their capability. Just be carefull as often high fliers may not look like this on some tools.

Having worked extensively in this field for many years, I hear over and over of companies that use tools such as those mentioned above and although great at the time they are not continually used. Ironically in 18 years of working with all sorts of different clients we find that 80%+ of the time its the highest performing leaders that are the ones that will refer back to reports generated by these devices.

Good luck in digging out the tools that work if you want to find out some more feel free to look at some of our research at http://www.behaviourchange.com.au/IWAM.html