How to do a talent audit


How many leaders are we developing for future leadership roles? Where should you be spending your employee development efforts? What is the best way to spend your training budget to contribute to the company’s ability to produce desired results? You may benefit from doing a talent audit – review your team and your leaders to get to a thorough understanding of the needs of each individual and the capabilities of your entire team/organization.

The most common rating model that is used for employees and leaders is shown below – note how well they are performing in their current roles and then compare that to how much potential do they still have to move up a level or two in the company.  performance vs potential

The vertical axis is where you rate the performance of the employee and the horizontal scale is where you rate his or her potential to reach higher levels of leadership in the company if you develop him or her.

The green star example would be a leader who is performing exceptionally high and who also still has the potential to move up more levels within the company – maybe 2 or 3 levels more in the next few years.

The red star would represent a leader or employee who is not performing according to expectations at all and who has not shown any signs of being capable of or motivated to move up any levels in the company.

Link to Performance and Potential rating sheet here

The resource I am sharing today is a tool to help you determine where your current employees and leaders would fit on the model shown above. All you need to do is answer yes or no to the questions shown. When you get to the bottom count the number of times you answered yes and calculate the % yes score (total yes answers divided by number of questions). That could be an indicator of where your employee/leader could be plotted against each of the axis shown in the model above. (Imagine the top end of the scale is 100% and the “low” part of the scale is 0%). Alternatively you can use the next figure (see below) to plot the employees. Review their latest performance review outcomes against the vertical scale: Exceeds Expectations, Meets  Expectations and Below Expectations. Looking at the employee’s motivation, mindset and capabilities – does he or she have the potential to move up some levels in the company? Plot that against the horizontal axis.performance vs potential legend

To ensure a good perspective of the employee pool that you are reviewing, ask various executives/senior managers who have regular contact with the employees to complete the list of questions in the resource. Combine all the answers to arrive at the final plot on the graphic for the employees/  leaders. Always perform a sanity check before you complete the final plot – employees must have the motivation and interest to advance in their own careers and have great interpersonal relationship skills before you can plot them towards the middle and right side of the horizontal scale.

Once you have the employees plotted as stars or markers on the diagram you can move towards planning next steps. Here is how you can look at the numbered areas above:

  1. These employees are able to grow to the top of the organization. Accelerate their development and make sure they have stretch-goal assignments.
  2. These employees are good performers who need to be recognized and you should keep them engaged. Retention is the word, especially if they possess key skills that are hard to find in the market.
  3. These employees need training,  coaching and a structured approach to improve on their skills and competencies. Since they have the motivation, ambition and ability to move to higher roles in the company, the gap between future role requirements and current performance assessments should be driving the development actions needed.
  4. This group needs to be addressed fast. Or you can coach/motivate this employee to improve performance or you need to let them go. They are taking management energy away from growth and are not contributing to the company’s success. (If their below expectations performance is related to health issues – manage according to the local laws and agreements with unions etc.)
  5. The performance of these employees has to improve. There are several reasons why someone could be plotted in this group. a) some executives/managers see potential here, but the employees’ own motivation or ambition may not align with that – move the employee into the correct group – towards the left; b) personal or interpersonal issues may be at work here – try to resolve; c) employee does not understand what is required from a performance perspective – ensure clear goals and expectations are set and train/coach and review regularly to ensure that performance does improve.

This process is not static and you should review your plots at least once a year. It is possible for employees to move into other areas of the graphic after they get the promotion they worked towards or their home situation changes and it changes their own motivation and ambition at work.

This annual review is an exercise that should include the executive team or management team for that location, because it is important that the senior team understands the talent and leadership potential that is available at that location. It is also important that multiple views are incorporated and discussed during the review sessions. It all starts with doing the first talent audit though and these tools will hopefully help you do that.

 

Preparing for a Coaching Session


Coaching sessions and programs are more successful when there are clear coaching goals and actions planned are documented. These developmental actions and activities should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. It helps both the coach and the person being coached to maintain focus on desired outcomes..

Many employees who are new to coaching have misguided expectations about the coaching process and their own role in it. They expect the coach would show up at each session ready to provide them with useful information and advice and all they needed to do was to show up. In reality the coaching process works much better when both parties actively participate and prepare for each session.

Coaching process JAG

This process graphic shows that each party in the coaching process provides input and participates in the process. The results are written down and shared to ensure a common understanding of the goals and that progress towards goal achievement is maintained.

Preparation worksheet for Coaching

Tips:

  • For those being coached: make sure you get your completed preparation sheet to your coach at least a few days before the session so that the coach can take your feedback into account. This helps him or her prepare to answer your questions and obtain any additional information and resources that may be useful to you at this time and bring it to the session.
  • For coaches: take note of the questions and struggles that may be noted in the preparation sheet. Consider how you can best help address those issues and which resources can you provide to help in the process? What is the best way to approach the coaching session – given those questions, issues and of course the overall goals that had been set for the coaching process?
  • Do remember to look back at previous preparation sheets and also the updated development plan on occasion (maybe once every 6 months) to recognize and appreciate progress made to date and to help motivate those being coached to take the next steps that may be required towards ultimate goal achievement.

Coaching is a shared responsibility between the coach and the person being coached. Only then, does the process yield the best results. And preparation is a key part of this shared responsibility.

Questions for Coaching


Many managers mistakenly think coaching is about “telling” others what they should be doing. While some very inexperienced people may need you to tell them what to do or how to do it, most others need to learn and explore topics and new skills or behaviors with their coaches instead. The hard part for many coaches is to listen and ask the right questions. And also to refrain from taking up most of the airtime during coaching sessions talking about their own lives and their own stories or just offering advice. While children happily accept new information simply because you tell them how things are, adults prefer to explore and learn by comparing and assimilating what you are sharing with what they already know and have learned in their pasts.

closed question examples
Closed Questions

Coaching sessions is about asking open-ended questions which leads to learning and exploring. Asking the right questions is not an easy assignment to have as a coach. Some questions shut others down while limiting them to “yes” or “no” answers which does not allow for a rich conversation of exploration around the topic concerned. Closed questions are those that can be answered by a simple yes or no answer.

More useful questions to ask :

  • Open-ended questions help others expand on ideas and contribute to the conversation vs staying mostly in listening-mode. These kinds of questions can help you discover the other person’s thought processes, motivations and how they feel about a topic or an option.
  • Clarifying questions are helpful to ensure you understood your conversation partner correctly. When people get going on topics that they feel quite excited or passionate about they can sometimes lose sight of how familiar you are with that same topic. To ensure you (the coach) are able to follow along, you may need to pause, look back and clarify any comment made which you were unable to place within the context of the topic being discussed.
  • Paraphrasing. This is a useful technique to summarize what you heard so far and help move the conversation towards a decision or planning a specific path forward (action). It also helps ensure that your impressions of what was said are correct. It can be very validating for someone to hear their own words summarized correctly by another trusted person (in this case you, as the coach).

This list of questions for coaches (which you can download above) can help you to ask the right questions at your next coaching session. I recommend you read through this as you prepare for the session, but do not commit yourself to asking specific pre-determined questions regardless of how the conversation goes. The important part about asking questions at a coaching session is that you (the coach) show up with a mindset of curiosity. That opens up the exploration in the conversation and enables learning to take place which is vital for adults in their learning process.

Use the links to other content which I show below and also the resource I am sharing above as a way to prepare for and get into inquiry mode before the planned coaching session.

These are great questions to consider asking when you coach: Life Coaching Questions    Coaching questions for managers

Use a reality-check worksheet for a Positive Mindset


The success of a leader, a manager or an ambitious employee depends largely on the mindset that he or she operates on. When we are in a positive state of mind we can focus on our goals and collaborate and communicate in positive ways which inspire and motivate others to help us succeed in our goals.

It is unfortunately also possible for us to get pulled away from the positive state of mind when we are in high stress situations for a long period of time and when we allow ourselves to go down a spiral of negative thinking. Successful leaders and managers have learned how to quickly realize when this happens and to start implementing corrective actions and adjustments to their way of thinking. This self-awareness and regulating their own emotions help them rapidly get back to a focused mind and closer to the outcomes that they are planning for.

Expectations and Reality Curves

This model shows the blue path which I call the Expectation Trap or summarized as the kind of thinking that believes “things should not be this way”. This kind of thinking very easily moves us out of a positive mindset and it is aligned with going against reality. We wish that reality was different and we build this on our expectations of how good things should be and how badly others are acting or behaving as if others are actually causing the negative outcomes which we do not want to see.  The green curve is the way out of the negative thinking. It is a different mindset which aligns with 1) doing a reality check and using that as the basis for moving towards a better way of thinking, 2) learning from the past, 3) changing or improving the plans we had before something happened to interrupt our progress and then 4) moving into the new direction with a positive focus and determination.

The first step, doing a reality check – is often the toughest and once a person is already in a negative state of mind it is really hard for him or her to realize that it is necessary to do this.

Use the outcomes from this worksheet for further discussions with your mentor/coach or adviser. It may be that you need some coaching or just someone to be a sounding board for you as you talk through the situation and how to resolve it in the best way.

Some tips:

  • Be sure to really connect with the negative feelings when you complete the worksheet. Some people are really good at being able to temporarily switch off their emotions to focus on business – but for this form, do make sure you are connecting with how it feels inside of you when you think about that situation or event that had caused you to feel pulled away from your positive mindset and down the Expectation Trap.
  • Do take the steps necessary to resolve any upsetting situation/event. There is nothing worse than unfinished business behind you. It slows you down and drains you of positive mental energy that you need to accomplish the goal(s) that you have set for yourself. Your coach/mentor or adviser can help you with that if you are not sure how to resolve the upset so you can leave it behind you.

Succession Plan Template


succession

Ambitious leaders are always looking for ways to develop talented direct reports who could possibly take over the baton when the leader gets promoted. Planning ahead to make sure that tomorrow’s leaders are developed today is called Succession planning. People retire, people leave their role and, new roles are created during reorganizations and restructuring efforts. All of these scenarios may create the need for someone else to take over in a leadership role and the question becomes… do you have anyone available internally who is promotion-ready?

This is the reason why it is important to keep a track of the key roles you have in your organization and also keep an eye on those who could potentially fill the role should it unexpectedly become vacant.

Continue reading “Succession Plan Template”

Exercise – Scavenger Hunt


Scavenger hunts are fun activities to help teams blow off some steam, get to know each other better and learn new things about the project or any other topic of choice.

The team-based activity can last anything from one hour to maybe 2 hours – be sure not to overload the teams. It must be possible to complete the assignment within the allotted time. The size of teams working on the list o tasks and questions matters too. A group of 3 to 4 people will typically take longer to complete the exercise than a team of maybe 5 or 6 people. Split larger groups into sub-groups of 3-5 people to work on a worksheet of assignments. The assignment usually consists of a worksheet listing questions to answer, locations to visit and can also could specify items which teams are to collect and bring along with them when they hand in their final answers. The team that completes the assignment the fastest wins.

When the group is ready, you would first share the instructions with them. Be sure to include areas that they are not to visit or boundaries for the exercise. Include the maximum time they should take to work on the assignment and where everyone should meet at the end of that time period.

Continue reading “Exercise – Scavenger Hunt”

Portfolio Assignments


Dev plan (3)

A powerful way to develop employees is to give them a portfolio assignment. This would be something they are asked to do while they remain responsible for their normal daily duties. Motivated employees with the ambition to learn new skills and take advantage of new opportunities to achieve developmental goals typically welcome such assignments. Portfolio assignments are less popular among employees who are less driven to succeed and develop their careers.

Continue reading “Portfolio Assignments”

Training Needs Analysis


Templates

Understanding what kind of training you should plan to provide to employees depends on a number of factors such as:

  • Company strategies for growth and developing into new markets or expanding in existing markets – what skills would be needed?
  • Based on current performance – which skills need to be introduced and which skills should be improved upon?
  • Looking at employee career goals, which skills do you need to focus on in order to help move employees to being promotion-ready?
  • Which skills do managers believe would help their teams succeed better given performance targets and customer demands?

Tools

Here are three tools that can help you with conducting a training needs analysis. The first tool highlights individual training needs per employee and is based on employee self assessments. The second tool is a training needs view from a manager’s perspective focusing on the top 3 highest training needs for each employee in his/her group/team/department. The last tool helps you budget for the planned training.

  • Self-rated individual training needs. The quality of the results you obtain from this tool depends on whether you have a good career development tool/framework in place, motivated employees who maintain and work on their own development plans on an on-going basis and whether your managers/supervisors provide quality performance feedback to employees on a regular basis.
Continue reading “Training Needs Analysis”

Training Certificate Example


When employees complete internal courses, one can be stuck with having to create a professional-looking training certificate for training participants. Not everyone has a knack for that, so here is a basic basic template (you can download it below) which can give you a good starting point for making your own training certificates. It is in *.ppt (Microsoft PowerPoint) format so you can edit the details as needed.

Receiving a training certificate is good way to recognize employees for completing required training courses and handing them out during a townhall meeting or other company event can help reinforce how much the company values the completions.

Using technology currently available to us it is more possible to avoid printing paper versions of a certificate. You can create the certificate electronically and also add digital signatures then save it as a *.pdf document or a picture. That way distribution can take place by means of sharing a hyperlink to the certificate or attaching an electronic file to an email addressed to the recipients.

Some tips:

  • When you customize the file or change elements, beware of creating something that is overly colorful and “busy” with competing elements – graphic and text.
  • When you insert digital signatures be very careful about who has access to those. It is a very sensitive graphic to have and can easily be abused if it falls into the wrong hands.