Posts in: succession planning

Populating the tent

Promoting other people in your own image not only says something about your preferences, it says something – and not something particularly healthy – about your own self-image. Leadership depends not just on developing self-awareness, but on maintaining it – staying aware of your impact, of the impression you create, and your relationship to the changing world around you. (If you want a truly ghastly analogy here, consider the scene in Behind the Candelabra where Liberace produces a photograph of himself as guidance for the plastic surgeon hired to ‘re-model’ his partner. If you want to be adored, try being adorable. It’s cheaper and it leaves fewer scars – on everyone – although it does mean finding out what other people find attractive.)

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Square Pegs and Round Holes: Strategies for Assessing Talent

Talent is a multi-faceted story, and its development and the realisation of its potential requires substantial effort. Organisations must also accept that it takes effort not merely on the part of the talented: those responsible for managing and implementing the developing and realising process must apply themselves diligently too. Our comments in the opening paragraph aside, talent does share one characteristic with genius: a high proportion of perspiration to inspiration. To develop the most capable people to appropriately fill the roles of the future means that an organisation must consider talent management in parallel with competency frameworks, job design and succession planning as well as assessment centre design and performance management practices: unweaving the threads cannot hope to strengthen the fabric.

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Parting is such bitter sweet sorrow

“[…] that I should say good-night until it be ‘morrow.” Shakespeare, of course: neither the words nor the sentiment were very likely to be those of a football manager. Leaving the stage is always unavoidably personal for the individual doing the leaving: the art of the elegant departure lies largely in remembering the bigger picture, and letting go in the way that best serves the interests of those who will remain.

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Peter Mandleson: the big reveal?

If you missed it, Mandleson: The Real PM? (which aired on BBC4 last night) will be on iPlayer for a little while, and was a fascinating but perplexing and frustrating watch. That ‘Real PM?’ was a tease at two levels: not just ‘do they mean Prime Minister or Peter Mandleson’ but ‘was that actually ‘the Real Peter Mandleson’. As a campaign mastermind, the man lives with a reputation for mastery of the dark arts of spin: although it amused him, on camera at least, to be called The Prince of Darkness, I was left wondering just how genuinely it’s a source of pleasure. A reputation for masterful stage management has a downside: we will always be left wondering how much of what we are watching is a performance. Not a fake so much as something that has been polished so rigorously we can no longer truly see it, as what we see when we focus on it are reflections of other things. We may have glimpsed his underpants as he changed trousers between meetings, but his soul remained covered at all times. But like many such ‘fly on the wall’ affairs, it was revealing at other levels: Mandleson may not have been our PM, but it was a programme that provoked interesting thoughts on leadership, loyalty, succession planning, adapting to changing circumstances and authenticity. And, of course, of managing a brand or a reputation.

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Book review: Bounce by Matthew Syed

The central argument of Bounce is that ‘talent’ is made, not born. At one level, it would be easy to dismiss it as another of those one-word title, biz-lite numbers we’ve had a go at before, which would – in this case - be a shame. We should judge books not by their covers but by reading them, and the first two-thirds of this one (I’ll come back to the final section) rewards the effort. While we glamorise and mystify the ‘talented’, I’d say that Syed’s alternative message is an optimistic one in that it should give hope to those of us who think of ourselves as ‘mere mortals’. As I often read books in parallel, I was powerfully struck by a passage in Christopher Hitchin’s Letters to a Young Contrarian (an excellent piece of writing for blog readers who venture ‘off piste’ from the mainstream of business literature), where he reflects on the fact that Martin Luther King ‘plagiarised his doctoral thesis and spent his last night on earth in some pretty rough fornication’ and comes to an optimistic conclusion.

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The Last Laugh? Reasons for education

A few weeks ago, I belatedly saw An Education, the film inspired by Lynn Barber’s memoirs of her teenage years. Although Ms Barber has made it clear in interviews that the film isn’t a verbatim rendition of her adolescence, the film is excellent: some truly fine performances, a well-written script and a real capturing of the suburban South London of yesteryear. Without throwing in too many spoilers, it’s a story about life lessons as well as school lessons, and the relative merits of each, illustrated by an academically gifted young girl’s affair with an older man. People are a vital resource, as well as a social constituent. Whether as raw materials (graduates, fresh intake), stock (existing staff) or process agents (HR and L&D professionals), they are a finite resource and the best way to ensure best use is made of them is to ask questions about current methods, structures, processes and drivers (reward being a significant one). And if we are to expect their commitment and attention, Jenny was right: it’s not enough to education them, they need to know why.

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If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

An article by Carly Chynoweth in the October issue of People Management, Endurance Tests, makes me wonder if the business world has finally come out of a coma. Glancing at the patient’s notes, I notice the first piece of evidence: ... assessments are now being broadened to cover all levels of organisations; talent-spotters are no longer assuming that future leaders or relevant talent can only be found in certain pools of employees” OMG, really? They’ve only just discovered this? No wonder organisations have been struggling though the recession.

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What are you reading for? A question for businesses as well as students

The quote is from Bill Hicks, deceased US comedian, but it swam back into my memory as I alternated between flicking through the pile of unread broadsheet newspapers by the sofa and watching University Challenge. (OK I’m middle-aged and a little sad, but on the basis of Monday’s episode I know more than a whole Oxford college. Allow me some cardigan-clad pride.) The contestants were young, bright and youthful in their anxious optimism. Being Oxbridge students, no doubt they will prosper, but in a year of record numbers of university applicants being turned away (280,000 according to the Independent on Sunday) and high unemployment in the under 25s, Hicks’ question - I’ll replay the joke later - has a new resonance.

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Providing insight or hidden by pillars? The future role of HR

A couple of weeks ago, we published a posting - Chinese whispers and the Captain’s Table – that looked at the potential implications of HR being downgraded within an organisation, or losing its own voice. Like so much else in the wake of a major financial crisis (and the speculative vacuum that is the run up to a General Election that may – or may not – bring a substantial change of socio-economic tone and context), the future role of HR is up for debate. CIPD – through its Next Generation HR research and its People Management magazine – certainly believe so.

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Chinese whispers and the Captain’s Table

Last June, we wrote an article – inspired by a post, 10 Tenets for the New HR at KnowHR.com – about the imperatives and priorities for HR in our current workplace climates. Our concern was that HR needed to purchase training intelligently – grilling suppliers about transfer and application, evaluation, return on investment, progress measurement – so that had compelling evidence to back their arguments and claims not just for budget, but to have an maintain a seat at we might refer to as ‘The Captain’s Table’. This time around, we want to look at this from a different angle: asking HR to consider what happens when that seat is lost, when the debate continues without them and they have no voice of their own to speak with.

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