Authored by: Roger Pearman
The entire Senior Team completed the KSAL 360, which was based on the Card Sort of Roles and Practices. Lillian understood that she was not going to see everyone’s 360 report, but she asked that an aggregate report be prepared to that she could have a discussion with the senior team about the learning needs of the group. As Lillian thought about the process, she asked, “Do we need to repeat this for the managers and front-line folks?”
Using the special KSA libraries of Roles and Practices for Managers and Individual Contributors, sessions were facilitated to use sort cards to create mission-critical profiles for each layer of the company. All employees participated in completing a 360 relevant to their position in the company. And true to form, Lillian wanted a company profile of the strengths and learning needs of her employees. She made the observation that “We need to follow the data in terms of what training programs are going to have the highest value. I want us to develop our own company learning institute that provides learning experiences and knowledge so that employees get what they need now and what is needed to build capacity for the future.”
And the collected data were pronounced: managers were seen as excellent at defining roles and responsibilities, effectively using of resources, and getting delivery of outcomes and almost nowhere to be seen was a growth or developmental mindset, working collaboratively, or any team management. The individual contributors data revealed high end focus on goals and tasks, understanding customer needs, and taking initiative while showing very little collaboration, engaging others, or having personal growth aspirations. Lillian charged a group with creating a way to monitor and measure the metrics of how addressing all of this was going to impact the company.
As this process unfolded, Lillian had her HR staff member monitor retention, engagement, and any remarkable developments. In the first two months of the project, retention went up each month and some “flash” engagement surveys also showed increases in scores. For the first time, employees were leaving suggestions in the suggestion box. Lillian looked at the suggestions, which were mostly simple administrative things. In a company meeting, she shared the suggestions and actions the senior team had taken, and she invited all of the employees to use the suggestion box for any product suggestions or process innovations. She told them that for any employee making a suggestion that generated revenue or reduced costs, she would pay a 10% commission on the revenue gained or saved.
Lillian started having more townhall gatherings. Before she started on this journey, she did a meeting or two a year; now this was a monthly event. These meetings were informal and often short; her message to the employees: “I’m listening.” She tracked productivity, which was the best since she started keeping that data. She observed more conversations among all levels of the organization and received reports of “quickly made-up problem-solving groups” working together to deal with customer problems. She noted that she had more time to think long-term and fewer daily fires to put out. It dawned on her for the first time that there were a number of key people who helped grow the business with her, and she questioned what she would do if one of them left or retired early. Who would take their place? She made a list of all of her key players throughout the business and how important their knowledge and experience were to the business. The more she thought about this, Lillian realized how losing individuals on her key list was a threat to the business stability. So, Lillian asked, “How do we identify potential replacements or people with talent in the business to help us create management and leadership sustainability?”
As Lillian pondered out loud, “Managing talent really is a big deal. I hadn’t given this much consideration when we started this, but I now realize I was putting my company at great risk. I don’t want to drop dead and put a lot of people out of a job. We’ve got to make this a discipline—managing talent has to be on the A list of priorities.”
Lilian even surprised herself with the idea of talent assessment of high potentials and turning the business into an employee-owned business—she was thinking stability and long-term future. And she asked, “What does a complete talent management system look like from top to bottom?”
Lillian is the kind of executive who monitors, measures, and makes things happen because her business model is “Follow the Data.” Wait until you see what Lillian did next!