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February 2010

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Welcome to our first edition of the Business Performance newsletter for 2010. As the financial markets continue rebounding following the Global Financial Crisis, we trust that you have hit the new year with renewed enthusiasm. With markets improving and organizations getting back to business as usual, one of the hard questions being asked is, What progress are we making in changing our global banking systems and business governance to ensure that recent history does not repeat itself?

Somewhat closer to home, you can also ask yourself what you are doing to protect your business in the future against such calamities. Here at Business Performance Pty Ltd, we see our role as giving you the tools, support and expert advice you need to build strength in your business. With that noble purpose in mind, we are pleased to announce the release of our new, improved succession planning tool. Succession Planner If you are responsible for managing the leadership pipeline in your organization, then our Succession Planner can help you track, manage and report on the leadership potential in your organization. Read more below. To help you get your succession planning on the right track, our feature article this month answers that tricky question concerning how you go about telling potential leaders in your organization that they are on the fast track.

Industry News in Brief

The latest Conference Board report on employee engagement proves sobering reading. Of its many survey findings, the report reveals that:

  • employee job satisfaction has sunk to an all time low (45% and down from 61% in 1987)

  • 51% of employees find their job interesting (down from nearly 70% in 1987)

  • 51% of employees are satisfied with their boss (down from 60% in 1987)

  • 64% of employees under 25 are dissatisfied with their job

Follow Business Performance Pty Ltd on TwitterKeep up with the latest industry news by following us on Twitter and becoming a Business Performance fan on Facebook. Business Performance Pty Ltd fan on FacebookAs an added bonus, you'll be getting our daily online management tips.

2 Way Feedback
If you would like to find out more about how to deal effectively with employee performance issues, check out our easy to read e-book, 2 Way Feedback.

High Potential Notification Guidelines: Not Too Heavy, Not Too Light

by Dan McCarthy

Most organizations have a process for the identification and development of "high potentials", those high flying, rock star, future leaders of the organization.

One of the most frequent questions I get when I work with a leadership team on succession planning and leadership development is around notification. "Do we tell them, and if so, how do we tell them?"

Most of the guidelines I've read on this topic are rather theoretical and dry, and not specific enough for the average manager to implement.

I thought it might be helpful to use the current Bud Light "Not Too Light, Not Too Heavy" beer commercial as a metaphor, along with handy word tracks to illustrate three common notification methods and the associated consequences of each. (That's what happens from watching too much football over the holiday break.)

These scenarios are based on my own real-world experience - having been at various times a high potential, having managed high potentials, and from managing high potential programs at different organizations. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Too Light:

Manager: "Pam, I've got a new opportunity for you. I'd like you to lead the new branding task force, in addition to your regular responsibilities. While you're at it, how about if you start having regular meetings with old Charlie, our VP of Marketing? I'll bet you two would have a lot of interesting things to talk about."

Pam: "Oh, OK, I guess so.... but why me? I've got a full plate already, and this assignment is completely outside of the scope of my job. What am I supposed to talk to Charlie about? I've never even met him?"

Manager: "Hey, don't worry about it, this is all a part of your development. By the way..... how attached are you to where you're living now? Would you consider relocating? Have you ever been to Buffalo?"

Two months later:

Manager: "What do you mean you're resigning? We have big plans for you... why, you were going to be the next VP of Marketing!"

Pam: "Well, that sure would have been nice to know. That's the position my new company has offered me. I'm leaving here because you kept throwing all these random "opportunities" at me, and then you told me I'm going to have to relocate to Buffalo!"

Too Heavy:

Manager: "Dwight, I've got great news for you. Now you have to keep this a secret, because I'm not supposed to be telling you this (wink wink). Me and the rest of the management team just did this "high potential assessment" exercise, and guess what? You're going to be the next VP of Marketing! We ranked you and all your peers on this nine box matrix, and you were the only one in the "A1" box. Yeah, that's you, Dwight old buddy, you are an A1!! Congratulations!"

Dwight: "Uh, gee, thanks. That's great, I'm honored. So what does all this mean?"

Manager: "Well, first of all, if you're going to be a VP, you need to start acting like a VP. I'm going to have you start to run some of my meetings, and working with me on the budget. Oh, I'd like to have you coach a couple of your co-workers; that would be good practice for you, and I'm sure they'll appreciate learning from the best. This is going to be great, we'll have you ready for that VP position in no time!"

Two Months later:

Manager: "Dwight, I need to talk to you about something. Your co-workers have been complaining to me about your behavior. They say you've been acting really obnoxious lately, running around like someone anointed you their boss. I have to say, you've been getting a little arrogant with me too. Oh, and old Charlie isn't feeling too well these days. I can't believe he said this, but he thinks you've been slipping something into his coffee. Is this true?"

Just Right:

Manager: "Jim, I'd like to talk to you about your career path and your development. First of all, I want you to know that I'm really impressed with your work, and I see you as having potential to grow beyond your current responsibilities. I'm not the only one who feels that way, the rest of the management team does too. You're seen as someone with a lot of creativity, vision, and leadership ability."

Jim: "Wow, that's awesome. Thanks! I'm glad to see my hard work has been noticed. While I really love what I do, I have aspirations to do more."

Manager: "That's great. How do you feel about Marketing? You seem to have a real knack for that kind of work. It's a growing department, so there may be opportunities in that area if you're interested."

Jim: "Sure, that sounds great. I have a degree in Marketing"

Manager: "Well, let's talk about how we could get you ready for that kind of an opportunity if it ever opened up. Of course there's no guarantees, so let's make sure your development plan is focused not only on this option, but others as well, in addition to making you stronger in your current role. First off, how would you like to lead the new branding task force? I know it would be a stretch for you, but it would be great development and exposure, and would help develop your influence skills as well. I could talk to Charlie, our VP of Marketing, about being a mentor for you."

Two years later:

Charlie retires, Jim is named as his replacement, and everybody lives happily ever after.

In summary, follow these guidelines for high potential notification:

  1. Don't tell someone they are an "A1", a successor, or even a "hipo". Skip the labels.

  2. Do let your best people know that they are valued and discuss potential future opportunities (with no guarantees).

  3. Be clear with people about their development plans. Let them know if a project is for development and why.

  4. Careers and development should be a two-way discussion. Find out what the employee desires and inform them about company needs.

About Our Featured Author

Dan is the author of the award winning leadership development blog Great Leadership at www.greatleadershipbydan.com. Topics for his blog are based on over 20 years’ experience as a practitioner in the field of leadership development. He is currently the Manager of Leadership and Management Development at a Fortune Great Place to Work, Training Top 125, and High Impact Learning (HILO 80) company. Previous experience includes management positions in leadership development, human resources and training for a global Fortune 100 company and Director of HRD for a public utility. Dan is a member of the SmartBrief on Workforce Advisory Board and an influential voice in talent management social media.

Succession Planner – New and Improved

With the economy ramping up and your key employees starting to look around, managing the talent in your organization has never been more important. This month, we are proud to release the new version of our successful succession planning software. Current users can attest to how simple yet powerful the tool is. Priced at US $60.00 per user, the tool outshines many of its competitors costing hundreds of dollars.

Succession Planner product packSuccession Planner really is a comprehensive solution to your organization's leadership succession needs. The workhorse of the tool is based on the popular Microsoft Excel spreadsheet interface, so it's easy to use and learn. The tool allows for quick data entry with plenty of fool-proofing built in. Its many powerful features include visual indicators, such as the Org Chart and C-P Matrix, along with key reports showing your organization's succession planning progress at a glance.

Succession Planner can manage your organization's entire succession planning efforts; from initially identifying your succession positions through to analyzing and reporting succession progress. Included with the package is a fully illustrated User Guide, customizable nominee Assessment Form and bonus Succession Planner Process Guide. With this tool, you will be able to:

  • rate future leaders and align them against specific future roles

  • rate current and future leaders for contribution, leadership and potential

  • view a succession snapshot of your entire leadership team

  • analyze the overall strength of your bench of future leaders

  • identify key risks among leadership positions and individuals
In this new version, we have included some key enhancements. Given the broader spans of control common in organizations today, new users will welcome the expanded capacity of the Org Chart and the Position Profile report. Other improvements include the addition of a cell occupants report to the C-P Matrix and users can now copy any chart or list to paste as a graphic into Word, PowerPoint or another application. The new version is also more configurable for users to adapt to their specific needs.

We encourage you to try out the tool before you buy. You can download a free trial version of the tool from our Succession Planner product page. The trial version is complete with sample data that you can modify so you can see how the tool will work in your organization.

Andy Beaulieu photo
The tool’s author, Andy Beaulieu, has had over two decade's experience in assisting blue chip organizations with their leadership development and succession planning. Mr. Beaulieu is available to help your organization implement your succession planning process. Please contact us at office@businessperform.com to discuss your specific talent management needs.

If you previously purchased Succession Planner Version 1.0, write to us to receive your free upgrade to Version 2.0. Simply include your proof of purchase in your email and send to our Products Department. We will promptly send you Version 2.0 by return email.

Visit our website at www.businessperform.com for lots of expert guidance and practical tools designed to help you get ahead of your competition. Also, be sure to pass this newsletter on to friends and colleagues who want to stay up with what’s on. From all of us here on the Business Performance team, we wish you a productive month and look forward to communicating with you again soon.


In This Issue
Industry News in Brief

High Potential Notification Guidelines

About Our Featured Author

Succession Planner – New and Improved
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