1. We should invest most of our talent acquisition budget into external recruiting functions.
2. There is only one best practice talent management methodology.
3. All talent management information and processes must be held in confidence to avoid employee morale issues.
4. High-potential employees are defined as those who have the ability to advance two levels above their current position.
5. Only large organizations need a talent management strategy.
6. If we develop our high-potential employees, they will leave for another company.
7. Identifying high potentials and successors is a subjective process.
8. Succession planning is unnecessary in an economic downturn or if there is a low number of retiring employees.
9. Notifying high potentials will give them a big head and cause morale problems among other employees.
10. Developing high potentials is too costly.
Sims is the founder and president of Succession Builders LLC and author of The Talent Review Meeting Facilitator’s Guide: Tools, Templates, Examples, and Checklists for Talent and Succession Planning Meetings, Building Tomorrow’s Talent: A Practitioner’s Guide to Talent Management and Succession Planning, and The 30-Minute Guide to Talent and Succession Management: A Quick Reference Guide for Business Leaders. If you wish to read the complete article and/or sign up for a free subscription, please visit www.talentmgt.com.
Michael J. Mauboussin
Harvard Business Press (2009)
I agree with Mauboussin that the most valuable lessons in life tend to be revealed by failure that results from errors of judgment. To reduce the number if one’s mistakes (if not eliminate them), Mauboussin suggests a three step plan, suggested by the acronym PRA: First, Prepare by acknowledging and analyzing one’s mistakes in order to understand their cause(s), nature, extent, and impact; next, to Recognize each mistake in context, to gain “situational awareness,” in order to recognize the kinds of problems one faces, what the risks are, and which tools are needed to make smart decisions; finally, Apply what one has been learned in order to mitigate one’s potential mistakes by building or refining a set of mental tools to cope with the realities if life.”
Mauboussin’s core insight is that most of the worst decisions are made in haste, without sufficient information, and driven by emotion rather than by reason, and are avoidable. For example, consider mistakes associated with reversion to the mean (i.e. denying or ignoring the fact that an outcome that is not is not average will be followed by an outcome that has an expected value closer to the average). How to avoid making these mistakes? Mauboussin offers four suggestions:
1. Evaluate the mix of skill and luck in the system that you are analyzing. “Here’s a simple test of whether an activity involves skill: ask if you can lose on purpose [because] if you can lose on purpose, then skill is involved.”
2. Carefully consider the sample size. “The more that luck contributes to the outcomes you observe, the larger the sample you will need to distinguish between skill and luck.”
3. Watch for change within the system or of the system. “One obvious example is individual changes in skill level. And athlete’s age is a good example. In many professional sports, athletic skill improves through the late twenties, at which point it begins to steadily deteriorate.”
4. Watch out for the halo effect. That is, “the human proclivity to make specific references based on general impressions. Mauboussin cites Phil Rosenzweig’s analysis of a tendency to observe so-called “great” companies, attach common attributes to them that explain their success, and recommend others to embrace the attributes to achieve their own success.
Meanwhile, those who read this book are urged to take some concrete actions immediately to improve the quality of their decisions: Learn about the potential mistakes (Prepare), identify them in context rather than in isolation (Recognize), and sharpen ultimate decisions when they must be made and then executed (Apply). “There are common and identifiable mistakes that you can understand, see in your daily affairs, and manage effectively. In those cases, the correct approach to deciding well often conflicts with what your mind naturally does.” If you believe that your decisions cannot be improved, that you do not need this book, think again.
In the Corner Office feature from the New York Times, Dec. 29, Adam Bryant conducted an interview with Teresa A. Taylor, the chief operating officer of Qwest, entitled “Everything on One Calendar, Please.” (Read the full interview here).
Here are two key lessons from the interview:
1) You cannot separate the different pieces of your life — you are one person, always thinking about every aspect of your life – work, home, personal… “Everything on one calendar, please.”
2) You (& everyone else) are always on. Taylor subscribes to the “the best interview is to share a meal” philosophy. She adds that it works best at a restaurant. This way, the interviewer can see the way that the candidate treats servers, makes decision, demonstrates self-control, while engaging in pretty uninterrupted conversation. The point: a person is “always on,” and you reveal much about yourself, your abilities, your priorities, your ethics, in daily, day-to-day interactions.
Here are some key excerpts:
Q. Are there other ways your leadership style has evolved?
A. Well, I would say in the beginning I thought I had to keep work and home very separate. I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do, especially as a woman. You know, you don’t bring up your children and you don’t bring up the fact that you’re having these issues at home. I think young women think you have to be like a man to succeed. I was like that. I just didn’t talk about those things.
After a while, when I brought my personal life into the office, it was O.K. Turns out, other people have kids, too. And, turns out, other people have these issues. I felt more comfortable when I could intertwine them. Now my calendar is one calendar — everything personal and everything professional is on one calendar. I used to keep literally two separate calendars, and then wonder why I missed a few things.
Q. How do you hire?
A. I never hire somebody without having a meal with them. I am absolutely convinced that that’s how you see what people are really like. You can tell by the way they order, you can tell by the way they treat the wait staff, you can tell by the way they drink too much or what they drink — you can pick up all these lifestyle things that you can’t get out of questioning them sitting in your office. Maybe they can’t make a decision on what to order, or they’re very snotty to the waitress. I absolutely have changed my mind on individuals after doing that.
News item: Tony Romo got a Kindle for Christmas, his favorite gift — he is a voracious reader…
Slate.com has a terrific interview conducted by Daniel Lyons with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon (borrowed from Newsweek). Here are two key lessons to learn from Bezos from this interview:
1) Start with the customer, and work backwards from there. This reminds me of the foundational truth from Drucker: “Who is your customer? And, What does your customer consider value?”
2) Innovation is an ongoing necessity, because “the world changes out from under you,” so you always have to be innovating, and learning new things, always adding to your skill set.
Here are the key excerpts:
Lyons: Amazon started off as a retailer. Now you’re also selling computing services, and you’re in the consumer-electronics business with the Kindle. How do you define what Amazon is today?
Bezos: We start with the customer and we work backward. We learn whatever skills we need to service the customer. We build whatever technology we need to service the customer. The second thing is, we are inventors, so you won’t see us focusing on “me too” areas. We like to go down unexplored alleys and see what’s at the end. Sometimes they’re dead ends. Sometimes they open up into broad avenues and we find something really exciting. And then the third thing is, we’re willing to be long-term-oriented, which I think is one of the rarest characteristics. If you look at the corporate world, a genuine focus on the long term is not that common. But a lot of the most important things we’ve done have taken a long time.
Lyons: You’ve talked about Kindle being this example of working backward from the customer. Can you explain that?
Bezos: We had to acquire new skills. There’s a tendency, I think, for executives to think that the right course of action is to stick to the knitting—stick with what you’re good at. That may be a generally good rule, but the problem is the world changes out from under you if you’re not constantly adding to your skill set.