Talent Management – Creating Space

Creating space in the business for new talent is all about renewal… new professionals, new perspectives, new ideas, and building a bank of future leaders.

“Exporting Talent” (ref: post May 17, 2018)  is one way to “Create Space” and add additional talent to the organization.  Vacancies created by lateral development transfers and promotions create opportunities to fill new vacancies with even more talent.

Yet another very necessary method of creating space is using due process to move along non-performers to appropriate different positions (getting the round peg in the round hole) or out of the organization entirely.

Some comments about due process:  No surprises is the key – this means the professional has had meaningful performance reviews, understands their short-comings with respect to position requirements, has been given coaching and an opportunity to improve, and in the end is not surprised by the organization’s decision to reposition them in a different position or separate them from the business.  This of course assumes the professional has been on the job for sufficient time to perform.

Due process relies on established objectives for the position which are the basis for measuring a professional’s performance.  Accomplishing specific projects, meeting established milestones, having the necessary skills to perform the job, and appropriate ethical and professional behavior are major factors in  performance based, due process driven employment decisions. The post under “Success”, Talent Management – Recruiting and Selection, January 28, 2018, discusses the importance of professional behavior — “Effectiveness Competencies”

Removing non-performers is vital as it offers open positions for promotions and sends a message to other organizations’ professionals that there are standards of performance in the business.  For the manager who makes the decision to remove the employee, it is a vote of confidence in his ability to manage as professional employees usually are aware if employees with whom they interact fall short of the mark of performance excellence.

Failure to change out poor performers can be a morale killer in the department or business.  Poor performance, and other than professional behavior, is almost always visible to peers.  And supervisors and managers who lack the skills to professionally manage their people are usually visible to other professionals as well.

***** S&E *****

Talent Management – Exporting Talent—creating genuine value

We are talking about laterals or promotions from one department or company location to another — “Exporting” people to new positions to further their careers.  For many managers moving talent along to new opportunities is plainly just hard to do.  For skilled leaders, it is not.

Exporting talent strengthens the organization and sends clear, highly visible messages to other onboard professionals.  Moving talent says that the business is interested in and supports career growth.  And for those businesses who do this well and, who take the time to track statistical data associated with career growth, those businesses have a great story to tell and sell as an integral part of the recruiting process. Talent Management metrics are unbeatable when it comes to recruiting and the competition for talent.

Exporting talent broadens experience, presents new challenges,  new perspectives, new work environments, new learning situations, and new managers to test adaptability… all these  are advantages of lateral moves and promotions; that is  far from  an inclusive list. Global assignments are particularly valuable for the company and professionals who are willing and adaptable.  This list is a good example of the additives to career value.  And when compared to compensation it is clear that the latter does little to further a career.

When to export relies on the professional’s grasp of the skills and competencies developed in the present assignment.  It is not uncommon, and I so clearly remember this from my time in global work, to find many professionals having career time lines which had little flexibility.  Timelines that map out new assignments every two years, with no recognition that the learning provided on the current position has provided a strong basis for the next, can lead to failure on the next assignment.  Absent that recognition, inflexible timelines can prove to be a recipe for eventual failure.  It is management’s job to provide the coaching and mentoring to assure the move is appropriate and timely.

Exporting a ready professional is the highest reward for great performance. 

It requires time to sponsor a move, and, great, accurate communications. The process needs to anticipate the timing of the readiness of the professional.  It can take some planning and time to arrange the path.  Absent the appropriate timing and action, unwanted turnover can be the result.

Exporting talent also creates space… “creating space”, a topic dealt with in a later post.

***** S&E *****

Thor’s Flying Cooler

I just had to relate this little piece, a snippet, one of 100’s of incidents, of Thor’s accident prone life.  There will be other log entries on this subject.

Thor lives in the country in a three bedroom home, huge front, side and back yard, each acres in size, mucho amounts of grass to cut, acreage.  It is a pretty place, a quiet country setting, surrounded by woods on two sides with some great, tall hardwoods in the front, side and backyard.  He also owns the woods at the rear of the back yard, where he hunts and fishes.

Thor has a garden tractor that is one size up from a VW bug – lots of power, a 60” mowing deck with the usual rotating, horizontal, high-speed, 3 blade mulching setup. The tractor is hefty enough, a powerful piece of lawn equipment.

Thor is a big camper. He uses his pickup truck to haul all the camping equipment.  His truck has a flexible, vinyl, button down cover which he normally doesn’t remove as it is a pain in the ass to fasten back down, depending on the outside temperature as it affects the flexibility of the vinyl.  So, to retrieve camping gear from the bed of the pickup, from underneath the bed cover, he uses ropes fastened to various camping items like tents, poles, traps, and coolers.  These things have a tendency to slide to the front of the truck bed in route to the campground.  So upon arrival, absent the use of the ropes, Thor has to crawl under the bed cover to unload the gear.  Using his rope “system” he just pulls the stuff to the back of the bed for easy unloading.

So, Thor returns home from camping, unloads the equipment from the truck bed, using his rope system, returning tents, coolers, chairs, etc., to storage areas, mostly the garage or basement.

The garage is detached, with a concrete walkway running parallel to the garage and continuing to the kitchen door in the rear of the house. After emptying his Igloo cooler, he places it beside the garage to drain and air-out.

A couple of days later Thor is on the tractor, cutting the acreage of grass. He’s cutting along the side of the garage, parallel to the garage sidewalk.  The camping cooler is yet leaning against the garage, with the rope, attached to the cooler handle. He sees the rope on the sidewalk leading from the cooler handle, but does not see the reminder of the rope which continues, secretly, into the high grass.  He is cutting along, passes near the cooler, when he finally notices the rope in the grass, in the mower’s cutting path.  His eyes wide open, jaw as well, as the mower deck passed over the Igloo’s rope.

The blade spindles under the deck picked up the rope, instantly consuming it.  The cooler left its resting place, rocketing toward Thor on the Garden Tractor, colliding with the mower deck, missing Thor by not so much, with the momentum launching Thor’s cooler off the deck, into the air and across the yard.


Badly shaken, Thor turned off the tractor’s ignition and headed for a beer and the whiskey bottle in the garage frig.


***** S&E   *****


Talent Management — “Killer Performance Reviews”

In this context, “Killer” is a good thing!

In the last related posting, April 9, 2018, the blog discussed Pay for Performance. That would prompt a specific discussion on the actual “performance Review”.

A simple description of a “Killer Performance Review”:  No surprises, both manager and employee are prepared, and both are satisfied or at least understand the outcome.Jump through hoops

It is very difficult to have a meaningful performance review if objectives were not established forming the basis for measurement over the period covered by the review.  So, the steps in the process might look like:  Establishing Objectives – Interim check points — on the spot recognition or assistance – the performance review itself.

Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely, commonly known as SMART objectives.  The manager should communicate the department objectives.  The employee should draft the objectives with the manager scheduling a meeting to review the draft and discuss necessary adjustments. Both need to agree on the final set of objectives.

Interim check points: manager assesses if all is well with progress against objectives; as little as 30 minutes.  It is the employee’s responsibility to make sure the work is getting done.

On the spot recognition or assistance: encourage employee when it is clear progress is being made; provide assistance when it is apparent there are issues accomplishing objectives.

Performance Review:  dedicated time for manager and employee to discuss degree of accomplishment of established objectives.


(Haag receives an all time low performance evaluation)

Manager role:  sponsor the process, communicate schedule for discussing objectives and performance reviews, encouragement, and assist with removing barriers as necessary to get the work done.  Utilize the final review as a basis for compensation and planning of training and development actions to support performance and career path.

It is important that training and development planning and discussion is separate from the performance review.

Employee role:  do the work, recognize barriers and make manager aware, ask questions, obtain clarification as necessary, provide updates, ownership of work, generate drafts of objectives and in the final report of related accomplishments (sets stage for performance review.

It is to the employee’s advantage to issue a quarterly report highlighting progress against objectives.  There are several advantages:  Maintains focus on objectives, updates the boss, provides the boss a basis for reports to superiors which highlights the work of the department and the employee, is an opportunity to highlight exceptions and issues, makes preparation for the annual performance review a breeze !

The greatest barriers to making this process a success:

  • Poor time management (either or both – boss, employee)
  • Not setting objectives
  • Setting objectives that avoid the SMART specifications
  • Poor communications during the period
  • Changes in the management organization
  • Making significant changes in job content or objectives during the period (minor adjustments might be expected)
  • Poor leadership

***** S&E *****


The Rich and the Poor

We used a guide in Rome Italy when we visited there.  An American, our guide lived in Rome for 16 years, learned the lay of the land, and turned his love for the city into a job – Tour Guide.

As we were doing the tourists thing, since he lived in both countries long enough to understand the significant differences, I asked what those differences might be?  He instantly responded, In the USA the government is rich and the people poor… in Italy the government is poor and the people are rich”.

Today, April 17th the US Supreme Court will consider whether states can collect out-of-state sales tax for online purchases.  Currently, 45 states rely on sales tax as a revenue source, few are able to collect.

Governments are losing big bucks ….   How much?  Estimates range from $8 Billion to $13 Billion annually.  I know we want to give our governments more money as they manage it so responsibly!

I suspect the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the governments…. So I suspect we will continue to prove our Tour Guide’s statement accurate… in the USA, governments have more and the people less.

Here is the link to the entire NPR article….NPR news article, April 17, 2018

Was there not an event in Boston “a few years ago” over taxes and representation….?

This whole thing brings me back to the most overused, most inaccurate opening phase often cited by our elected “representatives” when they are addressing an issue…   “In the best interests of my constituents….”

***** S&E *****


Log no. 887   “Frank’s Fish Pond”

So Cooter and I decided that Frank (Cooter’s neighbor) should get an April Fools letter from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services about his front yard fish pond.

Frank designed and installed the fish pond. It is beside his front walkway, just adjacent to the steps, in clear view of anyone using the front porch entrance.Charlie tuna

Frank used a variety of stuff– plastic liner, rocks, flat stones, shims, plants, a pump, tubing, and dirt.  The rocks surrounding the pond, build up to maybe 2 feet above the pond surface to the rock waterfall.  Of course the water cascades down across the tiered rocks and into the pond. The pump is an above ground pump that moves the pond water to the falls.

Frank’s wife hates the pond as the installation, workmanship, appearance, décor value, and fit with the landscaping is awful.  If Frank’s wife swore she would call it a front yard cluster *&#%$. Briefly, the waterfall does not work.  The liner sticks out of the dirt, is clearly visible. The rocks are filled with weeds, badly stacked, uneven, unlinked, and unmatched. You can see the pump and hose going to the falls and the plants just can’t provide enough balance to make it all right. Ugly.

And it is important to know that Frank loathes the government — local, state, and federal, it’s an all-inclusive loathing.

So Cooter and I sent a letter to Frank, from the government, about his fish pond.  His wife told us not to do it as it might be stressful.  We mailed it in another city to further disguise its origin. The letter featured the department’s logo on the letter head and envelope, cut and pasted from the state’s website.  Upon receipt, Frank put it aside for a day seeing the government logo.  When he did open it, we heard from his wife that, we had achieved the desired impact.  He was, seething and pissed, was going to write them a letter, then call, until his wife told him, days later, it was an April 1st hoax. The letter follows:

(Appropriate state address, state logo and Frank’s address)

Dear Pond Owner,

One of our agents, as part of her routine waterfront inspections, noticed the fish pond installation in your front yard.  Upon closer inspection she reported that it was less than what the agency describes as safely inhabitable, the pond species appeared to be diseased, and the water quality far from acceptable.

The state has standards for pond quality for commercial and residential installations and owners and operators are required to maintain pond displays and installations in such condition that they meet or exceed state standards.  Your pond clearly falls far short of the standards.

You should be advise that there are penalties for not meeting pond standards, however the law provides that you be given a reasonable period to comply.

We will maintain a file in this office and expect to hear from you within thirty (30) days that your pond has been brought up to standard.  You will find the standards listed on our website, (web address).

Please contact us to advise that you have corrected these substandard conditions, or, if you have any questions.  You can contact the agency through our website (second web address).

Thomas J. Scales

Director, WWS Enforcement

(City, State)

We found out months later that Frank read the letter to his family at the Thanksgiving Dinner table, just after dessert.

***** S&E *****

Talent Management – Pay for Performance (P4P) (Performance Management Process)

It is good to strike a balance when discussing compensation.  It is not the only motivator.  Spend a little time on the web searching “what motivates employees”. Substantial, professional studies and documentation support the fact that compensation is just one factor.  Other factors, for example, include job challenges, promotional opportunities, skilled leaders and managers, recognition, communications, and career development and skills training.  That does not diminish the importance that P4P plays in engagement, motivation and retention of talent.

Above all else, the company might have a world-class performance management system in place, but the system is only as effective as the leaders and managers who implement it.  A highly respected executive I worked for had a favorite phrase she applied when we had issues with turnover and poor managers, “Join a company…quit a boss”.

What makes performance reviews an effective tool for evaluating performance and establishing a base for compensation:

  • Leadership commitment to the process
  • A well-defined, well-communicated process (see example graphic below)
  • Supervisors/leaders who are skilled in managing the process
  • Ongoing recognition for good work – P4P is not a once a year exercise
  • Brief discussions were needed improvement is observed
  • Pay increases that are commensurate with performance
  • Needed improvement is funneled into training and development (T&D) planning
  • Appropriate action taken, with due process, for non-performers
  • The employee has to own it; the manager administers and manages the process

P4P ver 5

Managers who do not set objectives…!  The employee has the option and needs to generate a set of objectives for the year, publish quarterly updates related to associated progress, and keep the immediate manager updated on progress.

Also see this blogs January 4, 2018 posting for background on compensation structure.

It is important to conduct training and development discussions separate from performance reviews although the later can be a basis for T&D discussions, planning, and action.

***** S&E *****