Like any successful leader should, people managers routinely ask themselves questions. Most of those questions explore whether their teams can successfully meet the demands required from the greater organization. However, people managers also wonder if the individual contributors on their teams achieve and add value unaided, or if they are actually hidden under a veil of collective team success.
While team sports analogies are often used as hyperbolic fuel for these sorts of assessments, athletic achievement still requires individual accomplishment. The same holds true at an organizational level. Of course, not every contributor to a team can be a ‘star’; some are ‘bench players’. That’s ok. Success lies in understanding the expectations and outcomes required of your team from the greater organization and the roles and competencies necessary to ensure they continue to successfully meet those needs.
Consider the following table. Where would you place each member of your team? Moreover, because we are all (also) individual contributors, where would you place yourself? Would your manager agree?
The Talent Matrix
So How Did You Decide?
Getting the right results can be quantified, but how about doing the right thing? Are there core competencies required to be a ‘star’? How about company roles, which are more likely to be defined as ‘invaluable’? Do people within your organization know what is required to be viewed as a star, or whether their job is viewed as indispensible?
Typically, people are aware of the technical skills required to be successful, but most are quite uncertain about the soft skills deemed necessary for team and leadership achievement. These core competencies must be defined, communicated and understood by individual contributors within an organization for honest and transparent talent management and succession planning to occur.
Talent Management and Succession Planning
These two terms are intertwined in their organizational value. Talent management is, for all intents and purposes, human resource planning, while succession planning is a purposeful effort to ensure leadership continuity. This means future organizational planning cannot occur in a vacuum, at least not if an organization, department or team intends to maintain its successes.
Key People and Roles
For organizations to be effective over the long term, they must plan for the future by retaining and developing knowledge and intellectual capital. This can (in part) be accomplished via external hiring, but it should also occur through individual employee growth and development.
Do you know if the person on your team whom you view as a star is interested in advancement? How about key files, client information, or account data; who has access, or more importantly, needs access? In short, any critical person in your organization, or on your team, whose departure would result in a significant adverse impact on the business, should be appropriately planned for.
The same holds true for any critical positions within the organization, or on your teams that are imperative to running the business. If it is of key strategic importance to have backfill, then plan accordingly.
While many organizations look at succession planning as a means to define who will takeover the role of CEO or President, the reality is that all departments, at all organizational levels, should use this process to determine who has developed the capabilities and competencies to take over.
Human capital and team dynamics, are not merely buzz terms for the new millennium; quite the contrary, if planned for and managed effectively, they can represent points of key competitive advantage to organizations and the leadership within them.
If a key employee were to resign tomorrow, would your organization be ready? Would your organization have someone ready to take that person’s place? Would the successor be ready to assume this new role, and how do you and the successor know this? I want to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
Read Kurt's bio