Talent Management – Building Your Bench of Future Leaders

Many organizations face a common concern, who will be our next cohort of leaders? We can take that one step further by asking who will be the next cohort of trained, effective leaders? According to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), leadership development and talent management will be most effective with on-the-job learning. This provides an opportunity for seasoned professionals to help engage the future generation of organizational leadership. This provides the Catholic Cemeteries with a wonderful way to build relationships and collegiality across generations.

In their article, CCL discusses three important steps to ensure on-the-job training occurs effectively:

  • Have a clear talent strategy that aligns with the overall mission and strategy of the organization
  • Focus talent processes (e.g., hiring practices, onboarding, training, etc.) on organizational needs being purposeful and intentional with the type of training/preparation employees receive
  • Lastly, talent “roles” are no longer for Human Resources exclusively; senior leaders and top talent can play a critical role in building the next cohort of effective leaders by acting as coaches and mentors for employees.

CCL also suggest that the 70-20-10 rule should be applied to building talent and bench strength within an organization. In other words, 70% of developmental opportunities should come from challenging assignments, 20% from developmental relationship (e.g., leaders, mentors and coaches) and 10% from applied course work and training. Are you approaching talent management with this perspective in mind?

At the national CCC conference in Chicago, leadership experts Drs. Sheila Boysen and Mike Cherry presented frameworks and suggested several leadership actions to enhance your talent management and succession planning strategies.

One helpful tool to identify and determine developmental opportunities for employees in your organization is the Nine-Box Grid (Figure 1). The horizontal axis is a measure of the employee’s potential. The vertical axis is measuring employee performance.

Figure 1

Leveraging this framework can assist in identifying ‘next steps’ for your employees. For example, the following Nine-Box Grid (Figure 2) suggests titles and provides some suggestions for how to approach employee development.

Figure 2

In addition, Sheila and Mike suggested Cemetery Leaders consider talent and performance management as a process that spans several dimensions including, performance coaching, counseling and discipline. These were described as follows:

Performance Coaching

  • Coaching is the kind of conversation that takes place when an employee is meeting expectations: ‘How are things going? That makes sense – what are your next steps? What will help you achieve the goal?’ The conversations are developmental and collaborative.

Performance Counseling

  • Performance counselling conversations are more directive, but are similarly goal-oriented. The primary difference is that they are more remedial in their focus. You want to understand why the performance is falling short, then help the employee create an action plan to remedy the shortfall. The goal is to salvage the employee while keeping a close eye on protecting the company’s interests as well.

Progressive Discipline

  • When counseling doesn’t seem to be working, progressive discipline is the process used to formally document performance issues and define in clear, concise terms specific action steps the employee must take to remain employed. Timeframes are associated with each milepost to determine if the employee is meeting his/her performance improvement plan.

As our cemeteries grapple with asking, and identifying who will be the next cohort of trained, effective leaders, dedicating time to the development of our employees will increase in importance. We hope the suggestions and tools provided in this article assist in framing and prioritizing your approach.

Drs. Sheila Boysen, Lesley Page and Michael Cherry

Resources and References


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