Someone once said that 95% of people search to be able to fill a job description, and the lucky people are the 5% who get to write their own job descriptions. In most organizations, only a few people make the critical difference between success or failure. The rest are necessary to do the work, but they don’t change the history of the enterprise. While some may not like to hear that comment, everyone needs a job. But as an owner, you need to understand which positions move your needle dramatically. An inspiring talent development strategy will attract people from afar to join you on your ownership journey.
When an owner thinks about their leadership and management needs, they need to think about where the business will be in three to five years. What will the organization chart look like then? What team do you need to get there and be successful once you arrive? This is another case of starting with the answer and working backwards to today in order to build a plan to get you there.
Do you have the right people today to get you to where you want to be tomorrow? Can you develop your current staff to get there? If so, how will you do it? Are there gaps that require you to hire from the outside? If so, how long will that take, and how do you make sure the new hires are good cultural fits?
Personality, style and cultural fit usually determine if someone can be successful or not. While this is as much of an art as a science, there is some science to rely on. There are a number of tools that can be used to bring intelligence to the process. Here are a few examples:
While these are scientific, and need an expert to conduct and properly interpret, the Skill/Will model is a bit more practical, although it has its limitations. The Skill Will Matrix was derived from the model of situational leadership created by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in the 1970s. Ken Blanchard was one of the authors of the book “The One Minute Manager.”
For internal candidates, the question is how to develop them so that they have the necessary skills and experience to succeed in the future. We say experience when we really mean judgment. At senior levels, judgment is what matters, since it drives decisions and behaviors down the line.
Development is a process, not a decision. Like most processes, it needs to be managed, and that means it needs to be planned. Development plans usually start by identifying career goals and the actions the employee must take to meet those goals. These plans should be written—with deadlines and accountability—and reviewed on a regular basis.
So, what is a Gap Analysis? It is the thinking required to identify the difference between the talent you need in the future and what you can develop from what you have today.
You define the gap by comparing today’s organization chart to the future organization chart you just designed. Then, for each box on the chart, list the skills, experience, relationships and personalities that describe the perfect candidate. Finally, compare it to what you have today. This is often an iterative process for each position, since you are building a team, and how the team works together is what matters.
You may have good people in development, but will they be ready to step up to the challenge when you need them? If they need another three to give years to mature, is that too late?
When you promote one person up a higher level, it creates a void. Nature abhors a vacuum—and so do organizations. How do you plan to fill that void? Your talent development strategy needs to run from top to bottom. It ends when you are confident that there is an excess supply of talent to fill the lower positions.
The five parts of a thorough development plan are:
In summary, you need to identify the key decisions, track the transition milestones, and manage the underlying details to pull it all together. A traditional Gantt chart will work; there are other tools for this purpose.
The last part of the program is communications. There are several constituencies who want and need to know the plan for the future: the winning candidates, the losing candidates, the future followers, customers, suppliers and investors. Each constituency has a different need, so the message, and the timing of that message, will differ. You want to control the message and the timing, since there is so much risk and uncertainty in the outcome.
To create your communications plan, think about these questions:
In the end, business is about people. Implementing talent development strategies will help you attract, train and retain the best people to drive business success.
©All Rights Reserved. September, 2021. DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM
Bruce Werner is the Managing Director of Kona Advisors LLC and served as an outside director on private company boards for the last three decades. Kona Advisors LLC provides advisory services to the owners, investors and CEOs of private and family-owned businesses. With deep experience in governance, succession planning, finance, strategy and management issues, Kona…
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