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    Entries in talent (56)

    Wednesday
    Jun132012

    WEBINAR : Talent, Succession, and Zombie Identification

    A quick plug for my colleagues over at Fistful of Talent who next week, Wednesday June 20 at 1:00PM EDT, will be running the latest installment of their fun, informative, and popular webinar series, this time with what promises to be a fresh, innovative, and probably not at all like you are used to approach to succession planning and talent reviews. You know as an HR or Talent profession you secretly love talent reviews and succession planning. You do.

    Why?

    Because you love judging people. I mean, don't we all? You're reading this and judging me right now. If you are still reading this, I guess I made it past the latest in what naturally is an almost constant evaluation of where I fall on continuum running from 'What an idiot' to 'Genius! I need to show this article to my CEO'.

    If judging people isn't the nation's second favorite pastime, (football is still number one), then how do you explain, variously, the success of American Idol, America's Got Talent, The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, and the 73 other competition/reality shows out there? And don't get me started on the internal monologue running in your brain when you go to the mall, the airport, or that pinnacle of judgmental snarkiness, the county fair.

    But back to the point, and I remember there being one. As a talent professional perhaps the single most important job you have is making sure the organization has the talent it needs, in the roles where they are most likely to succeed and have some kind of affinity for, (or at least be good at), and demonstrate a readiness in organizational capability to adapt to (among other things), new business strategies, changing external conditions, and lastly and more commonly, people just being people and doing things like resigning unexpectedly, flaking out on an overseas business trip, or getting a too-good-to-pass-up and too-rich-for-you-to-match offer from ACME Corp. down the road. 

    So how as a busy with a million other things HR and Talent pro begin to get a handle on the 'sound boring but are really important' processes of Succession Planning and the mechanism that drives much of the Succession Planning process, the Talent Review?

    Well, that is what the FOT webinar is all about. Check the details below:

    Halogen Software is bringing in the team at Fistful of Talent for a quick, street smart webinar, Wednesday June 20 at 1:00PM EDT, on how to bootstrap a talent review and get started with Succession Planning.  Attend Zombies, Grinders and Superstars:  The FOT Talent/Succession Review” to get the following goodies:

    How what you do with performance management at your company is directly related to how you approach talent reviews and succession

    • Why corporate values don’t belong anywhere near your performance management system
    • How items called “potential factors” add flavor to your approach to performance/talent/succession, and how to create potential factors for your company to use in the talent review
    • How to use the talent review process to calibrate performance ratings across your company, box in managers who are soft on performance and create a greater sense of pay for performance in your organization
    • An outline and best practice notes on how to run a talent review meeting, with formats that differ for your company’s Leadership Team, a division/departmental group, or a high potential employee program.      

    This webinar comes with the Fistful of Talent guarantee:  60% of the time it works every time.  Join the FOT crew as they tell the truth and cut through the smoke and mirrors related to Talent Reviews as a part of your succession program.

    Got it?

    Seriously, I always have learn something new on the FOT webinars, and even if you think you have the Succession/Talent thing down cold, it is worth your time to dial-in and help make fun of Sackett.

    Tuesday
    Mar062012

    More on the Talent-Strategy-Culture triangle

    A few weeks ago I posted about the ongoing discussions on the relative importance of three distinct, but interrelated aspects of organizations (Talent/Strategy/Culture) that combine to define, set the direction, and ultimately determine the success or failure of the enterprise. In that piece, I proposed it might be that Talent, or perhaps worded differently, people capability, might actually trump both Culture and Strategy as being the primary determinant or most accurate predictor of ongoing success.Throw it to Jordan on the block

    The theory, (it probably actually doesn't deserve to labelled a 'theory', perhaps 'notion' is a better term), is that without the raw talent, the right people with the right skills in place, that even the best company cultures can't progress from being 'fun' or 'happy' into truly successful, and also that the sharpest most on-point business strategies can't be executed.  Why I think I like this idea so much is due all the time I spend watching sports, specifically the NBA, where perhaps more so than many other team sports, sheer talent more often than not plays a disproportionate role in driving wins and championships.

    In the NBA, teams that win titles almost always have one (or more), of the league's most talented players, the kinds of players that can essentially take over in close games, can rally the team by setting an example for effort and dedication, and help to make the other players around them better, by virtue of their sheer ability. Essentially to win in the NBA, you need superior talent. It doesn't mean you will win of course, (see Heat, Miami - 2011 NBA Finals), but without it, the best team spirit, (culture), and coaching, (strategy), will only take you as far as the talent can carry you.

    While culture is critical, and strategy is essential, having the talent makes it all work, makes the culture rise to more than a 'oh look how cure, there's a foosball table in the break room', and elevates the strategy from just words on a PowerPoint or a tagline on a website.  

    So how do you go about landing that essential, superstar talent you need? Dang, that's a problem.

    Well, having a fantastic company culture helps. Great talent wants to be in a place that they feel will challenge them, where they sense a greater purpose, and can learn from and engage with great colleagues. And it really helps to actually be a successful company already, or to have a story, (a strategy even), that resonates and can be envisioned, and that great talent can see themselves as a part of. Yep, it is kind of hard to attract and retain great talent without a great culture and a winning strategy.

    Which I think is the reason why all these Culture vs. Strategy vs. Talent type arguments persist, because no matter what position on the triangle you take you are right.

    And also wrong.

    Rock-Paper-Scissors.

    Friday
    Feb102012

    If culture eats strategy, then what eats culture?

    I still play Rock-Paper-Scissors.

    For a simple game, it is incredibly nuanced and complex. Like all good games, there is no sure way to win, and no sure way to lose. Some day I hope to hone my skills to the point where I can compete for big bucks on the R-P-S circuit.

    Why mention Rock-Paper-Scissors? Choose wisely

    It came to mind from thinking about two things - one, another run around the park for the popular 'Culture Eats Strategy' meme, (ok, it is not really a meme, I just couldn't think of a better word. Sorry.). This line of thought posits that without the 'right' or 'good' or 'well managed' company culture, that it does not really matter much what the business strategies are, that decreased or lacking employee engagement levels caused by that poor culture will effectively short-circuit and lead to failure even the best, most intelligent strategies. It makes plenty of sense, is fairly hard to argue against, and tends to play to the part of us that simply likes to believe if we create great places to work, great experiences, and happy/engaged/satisfied employees that everything else might just fall into place.

    But like the Rock-Paper-Scissors game, that is non-linear, and where any choice you make can potentially be trumped by another choice, is it possible that while Culture may eat Strategy, that there might be something out there that might eat Culture?

    How about Talent?

    A few days ago mega fast food franchise company Yum! Brands, (think, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell), announced its latest quarterly earnings, and one of the highlights was the company's strong growth and performance in China, with an expansion of locations and same-store sales up 21% on the quarter. On the quarterly earnings call, Yum! CEO David Novak was asked about the company's successes in the often difficult to crack Chinese market, and his explanation of the reasons behind this excellent performance curiously did not attribute it at least primarily to some kind of superior business strategy, or wonderful organizational culture. No, he talked about Talent. From the transcript of the earnings call:

    I think our whole formula for success in China has been geared on great local management team with phenomenal local operating capability. And we've always had one rule, we never want to expand any further than or faster than our people capability.

    But we're like the Procter and Gambles, the king of marketing talent in the United States. We see ourselves as the leader in operating talent in China. The second big thing on people capability is just our development operations. Our development team -- we have 700 people in our development team. And we have the best retail management base in China. This is a huge competitive advantage as we go forward. 

    Let that sink in a minute. People capability. The leader in operating talent. The main reason Yum! is winning in China.

    Later in the discussion Novak does talk about the importance of flagship locations, and arriving first to local markets, both clearly business strategy type decisions, but the overall emphasis and the main reason for success and ongoing competitive advantage is finding, developing, and pipelining great local managerial talent.

    Talent. Not culture, not strategy, not some innovative marketing or social media outreach.

    It is a very interesting take, and I'd recommend reading the full transcript of the earnings call, (come on, you have time, lay off Facebook for ten minutes).

    What do you think - if culture eats strategy, could it be that talent eats them both?

    Have a great weekend!

     

    Thursday
    Dec292011

    2011 Rewind - My Favorite Sports Post of the Year

    Note: This week I am taking a look back on some of the 2011 posts that were either popular, interesting, (at least to me), or that might warrant a re-visit for some reason before the year is officially in the books. And also after about 200 or so posts this year, I am more or less tapped out of original ideas and want to recharge a bit. So that said, I hope you enjoy this little look back at 2011 here on my tiny corner of the internets.

    Sure I like to write about sports. Maybe, just maybe a little too much, (debatable). Of all the sports-themed posts on the blog in 2011, this one from May, a look at talent assessment methodologies and titled 'Bench Pressing and Basketball' was my favorite.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    With the National Basketball Association player draft fast approaching, fans, observers, and pundits alike love to speculate and predict the player draft order, and imagine the glorious future for their favorite team once this years' version of young Timmy 'The Flint Assasin' Sackett, or some other such prospect joins the squad.

    Readers of this site, along with my pieces on Fistful of Talent, know that sports, and in particular how the talent evaluation and assessment processes that professional sports teams undertake as they consider which players to draft, recruit as free agents, trade, and compensate; make for some compelling stories and often illuminate applicable lessons for those of us with concerned with more mundane but similar workplace conundrums. None of the 'Sports and HR' parallels are more clearly illustrated than annual player drafts that all the major USA professional sports leagues conduct.

    The purpose of these drafts is to help 're-stock' the talent pools in the league with new players, ones that have the capability and potential to raise the overall talent profile of the league and the individual teams. Essentially each season, younger, more talented players (or at least ones judged to have potential to be good players), enter the league while older and/or less skilled/more expensive players exit. It is a kind of a cool, virtuous 'Lion King' style circle of life, but will louder music and more tattoos.

    The trick for talent evaluators and people in charge of player personnel decisions in the draft is how to assess the complex combination of a prospect's performance on the court to date (usually in college basketball, but sometimes just high school, or international play), the player's physical attributes, their personality and character, and finally whether or not that elusive 'fit' between style, physical traits, and mental make-up exists between the prospect and the team.

    You will often see quotes from NBA or other sports execs talking about players they select as being 'Our kind of player', or 'His style fits how we like to play'. These quotes are as much about cultural and organizational fit as they are about hitting jump shots or ability to rebound the basketball. The rules of the game are the same for every team, but how they go about assembling the team and their philosophies about how to best accomplish the universal goal of winning the championship are all unique.

    So in sports, like in most every other line of business, talent assessment and selection is really hard. So NBA teams have come to increase or expand the variables they assess and measure when it comes to the talent evaluation process for potential draftees. One of these variables is the number of times the prospect can successfully bench press 185 lbs, a moderate amount of weight for a well-conditioned athlete, certainly not a power lifter or bodybuilder burden, but also a weight that could present a challenge. The 185 pound bench press is meant to give a generalized assessment of the player's upper body strength, that at least in theory could translate to effectiveness on the court. But bench pressing isn't really basketball, they don't roll out a bench and some barbells in the 4th quarter of a close game. The other advantage to teams in using the bench press test, (and a myriad of other fitness and strength tests they use), is that every prospect takes the same assessments, thereby giving the teams a common data set across the entire talent pool from which to make comparative judgments.

    But the data itself offers a team no competitive advantage - every team in the league has access to the same information. The trick is knowing how to interpret the 'measurables' (bench press, vertical jump, etc.), with the 'intangibles', (character, coachability, likeability), and finally a frank assessment of 'Can this guy actually play?'; in order to make the best talent selections. 

    But back to the bench press, which is the reason I wrote this piece. Yesterday I noticed a tweet from Chad Ford, one of ESPN's basketball writers and analysts commenting on the bench press test results from a few of this year's current NBA draft prospects.  The tweet is below:

    The implication of the tweet is a kind of red flag or warning about those few players unable to successfully bench press 185 pounds. That teams considering drafting these players may pause, and fans of teams that eventually do take these players might need to be concerned that their lack of demonstrable upper body strength (doing something that isn't actually playing basketball), portends poorly for their future performance as NBA players.

    It is hard to say for sure if this poor performance on the test will actually hurt these players draft position, it certainly won't help it, but I think the larger point is about data collection in general. Whether it is an NBA team evaluating a power forward, or a software company assessing the background and skills of a candidate for a development job, our abiliity to collect reams of data about background, capability, demonstrable skills, and even mental make up has never been greater. We have access to powerful analytics tools to crunch the data and perhaps eventually to construct detailed and predictive 'success' models.

    It could very well be the success on the bench press test does suggest future success on an NBA team. Or failure on the test predicts failure on the court.

    But even if we can create those kinds of models, for basketball players or software developers, they will never be fool proof, as people and performance are ultimately likely too unpredictable to ever understand absolutely. We have to be open-minded enough to ignore our own models from time to time.

    You may, even if you are not a basketball fan, have heard of a player called Kevin Durant. He is a star player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has led the league in scoring, led the USA team to the Gold Medal in the World Basketball Championship last summer.

    In 2007, when Durant declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, he was unable to bench press 185 a single time

    And we know how Durant has worked out. 

    Sure collect, assess, analyze, correlate, model - it's important. But don't forget, bench pressing is not basketball.

    Thursday
    May262011

    Bench Pressing and Basketball

    With the National Basketball Association player draft fast approaching, fans, observers, and pundits alike love to speculate and predict the player draft order, and imagine the glorious future for their favorite team once this years' version of young Timmy 'The Flint Assasin' Sackett, or some other such prospect joins the squad.

    Readers of this site, along with my pieces on Fistful of Talent, know that sports, and in particular how the talent evaluation and assessment processes that professional sports teams undertake as they consider which players to draft, recruit as free agents, trade, and compensate; make for some compelling stories and often illuminate applicable lessons for those of us with concerned with more mundane but similar workplace conundrums. None of the 'Sports and HR' parallels are more clearly illustrated than annual player drafts that all the major USA professional sports leagues conduct.

    The purpose of these drafts is to help 're-stock' the talent pools in the league with new players, ones that have the capability and potential to raise the overall talent profile of the league and the individual teams. Essentially each season, younger, more talented players (or at least ones judged to have potential to be good players), enter the league while older and/or less skilled/more expensive players exit. It is a kind of a cool, virtuous 'Lion King' style circle of life, but will louder music and more tattoos.

    The trick for talent evaluators and people in charge of player personnel decisions in the draft is how to assess the complex combination of a prospect's performance on the court to date (usually in college basketball, but sometimes just high school, or international play), the player's physical attributes, their personality and character, and finally whether or not that elusive 'fit' between style, physical traits, and mental make-up exists between the prospect and the team.

    You will often see quotes from NBA or other sports execs talking about players they select as being 'Our kind of player', or 'His style fits how we like to play'. These quotes are as much about cultural and organizational fit as they are about hitting jump shots or ability to rebound the basketball. The rules of the game are the same for every team, but how they go about assembling the team and their philosophies about how to best accomplish the universal goal of winning the championship are all unique.

    So in sports, like in most every other line of business, talent assessment and selection is really hard. So NBA teams have come to increase or expand the variables they assess and measure when it comes to the talent evaluation process for potential draftees. One of these variables is the number of times the prospect can successfully bench press 185 lbs, a moderate amount of weight for a well-conditioned athlete, certainly not a power lifter or bodybuilder burden, but also a weight that could present a challenge. The 185 pound bench press is meant to give a generalized assessment of the player's upper body strength, that at least in theory could translate to effectiveness on the court. But bench pressing isn't really basketball, they don't roll out a bench and some barbells in the 4th quarter of a close game. The other advantage to teams in using the bench press test, (and a myriad of other fitness and strength tests they use), is that every prospect takes the same assessments, thereby giving the teams a common data set across the entire talent pool from which to make comparative judgments.

    But the data itself offers a team no competitive advantage - every team in the league has access to the same information. The trick is knowing how to interpret the 'measurables' (bench press, vertical jump, etc.), with the 'intangibles', (character, coachability, likeability), and finally a frank assessment of 'Can this guy actually play?'; in order to make the best talent selections. 

    But back to the bench press, which is the reason I wrote this piece. Yesterday I noticed a tweet from Chad Ford, one of ESPN's basketball writers and analysts commenting on the bench press test results from a few of this year's current NBA draft prospects.  The tweet is below:

    The implication of the tweet is a kind of red flag or warning about those few players unable to successfully bench press 185 pounds. That teams considering drafting these players may pause, and fans of teams that eventually do take these players might need to be concerned that their lack of demonstrable upper body strength (doing something that isn't actually playing basketball), portends poorly for their future performance as NBA players.

    It is hard to say for sure if this poor performance on the test will actually hurt these players draft position, it certainly won't help it, but I think the larger point is about data collection in general. Whether it is an NBA team evaluating a power forward, or a software company assessing the background and skills of a candidate for a development job, our abiliity to collect reams of data about background, capability, demonstrable skills, and even mental make up has never been greater. We have access to powerful analytics tools to crunch the data and perhaps eventually to construct detailed and predictive 'success' models.

    It could very well be the success on the bench press test does suggest future success on an NBA team. Or failure on the test predicts failure on the court.

    But even if we can create those kinds of models, for basketball players or software developers, they will never be fool proof, as people and performance are ultimately likely too unpredictable to ever understand absolutely. We have to be open-minded enough to ignore our own models from time to time.

    You may, even if you are not a basketball fan, have heard of a player called Kevin Durant. He is a star player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has led the league in scoring, led the USA team to the Gold Medal in the World Basketball Championship last summer.

    In 2007, when Durant declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, he was unable to bench press 185 a single time

    And we know how Durant has worked out. 

    Sure collect, assess, analyze, correlate, model - it's important. But don't forget, bench pressing is not basketball.