Talent Stewardship Principles: Yours and Mine

Talent Stewardship Principles: Yours & Mine by Jim Ramerman, and you
  • Jim Ramerman
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  • stewardship . Talent management .

Do you want to build a legacy?  I do something worthwhile that lives beyond me and stands the test of time.  That’s why I am so passionate about the art of developing leaders. When it comes to making a real difference in the world, few opportunities present the potential as does the coaching of leaders to become more effective in building their team’s confidence and competence.  Building a quality organization operating under dynamic, deep-rudder leadership with strong core values is a thing of beauty and a force for change.  And it’s a powerful way to create a legacy.  That is the promise I offer you – real return on your investment by using a powerful tool to begin to create your legacy, an organization under-girded with powerful talent management principles – your principles. This article will help you think it all through. The way you start is by asking yourself the important questions and coming up with your own answers – answers that are born of thoughtful reflection.

The trick is how to get there.  It’s really up to you.  Leaders go first.  This is serious, challenging work, with an element of joy.  Start with the following questions: What are your foundational principles for talent management and stewardship?  Do you begin by accepting the development of your people and their careers as a primary corporate responsibility?  Is succession planning a key element?  Can you articulate your stewardship approach clearly and simply?  Do you literally feel it on an emotional level, versus just knowing it cognitively?  What are you doing about feedback and measurement, for yourself as well as others around you?

For over 30 years, I’ve read and observed a lot about this subject.  This essay lays out some of what, in my personal experience, works best.  It may or may not jive with what you’ve read elsewhere, which is fine. This is my voice—me being me.  And here’s my invitation to you:  Let’s compare notes.  Read this piece slowly, once or twice, with pen or marker in hand.  Underline, circle, cross out, agree, disagree, and jot down your ideas.  By the time you’re finished, you will possess your own clear, personalized statement for talent management and stewardship, one you can live up to actively and intentionally every day and one you can share with current and future leaders within your organization.  Are you game?

Jim’s Core Talent Stewardship Beliefs

  • People are an organization’s most important asset.   They work hard and invest serious time, even lifetimes and consequently deserve great leadership and an honest opportunity to learn, self-discover, and grow.  It is thus a primary human responsibility of the leader to help his or her people grow personally and professionally.  Work is life.  We can’t compartmentalize.
  • Effective stewardship, tending to the core needs and development of people, always improves organizational performance. Everyone benefits—the team, the customer, the leader, the organization.  Operations will run better, be more effective, create happier customers, and make more money to share.  You will sleep better and have the freedom to spend more time on your biggest priorities and what you most enjoy.  At the end of the day you will have helped a lot of folks into career pathways that suit them well and make their world a better place.  What’s not to like?
  • The leader’s credibility is on the line with every talent management action—and inaction. The leader’s role is to get the right people on the bus, in the right seat and quickly remove people or change their role if it becomes clear that the fit isn’t working.

Jim’s Talent Management Practice Checklist

As you read them through, ask yourself these questions:

What do you believe?

What will you do about your belief?

  • To be effective, leaders must get clear on each person’s “most natural talent”—what they consistently do well and enjoy over extended periods—then place people in “best fit” positions.
  • The right reasons to hire/promote include: right fit, right talent, skill set, proven performance, obvious potential. Oh, and demonstrated leadership.
  • Almost everyone you hire can become at least a “B” player if not an “A” player. We all have talent.  But employees consistently demonstrate high-level ability only when they are in the right role vis a vis their aptitude, and a good fit for the organization’s culture.
  • Hire slow, fire fast. Utilize an in-depth team process for hiring.  Build on the candidate’s most natural talent(s).  Develop a consistent portfolio of thoughtful discovery questions and don’t be afraid to follow your instincts in pursuing data and deciding yea or nay.
  • Personnel decisions that feel tough are always opportunities. The organization has somehow been suffering.  Keeping the wrong person in a particular role is tantamount to keeping the right person out of it.  Don’t procrastinate.  Once the correct management move is made, the reaction is usually one of relief—on the part of co-workers, customers, you, and (often) the person who got re-assigned or released.
  • How the leader treats an individual slotted in the wrong seat is crucial, too. Leaders must be fair, ethical, legal, and humane without shrinking away from making the tough decisions required to work through transitions.  Everyone is watching.
  • When people in the wrong roles get let go, the world does not end for them. In fact, they are now free to rediscover and reassess their strengths, talents, preferences and optimum career fit.  They can now locate a position that is right for them—which by the way, is their responsibility, not yours.
  • The wrong reasons to hire/promote include: friendship, obligation, family ties, pressure, guilt for past decisions or poor management, neediness (yours or theirs), changing the deck chairs, charisma, blind loyalty.
  • Signs for lack of a good fit: low enthusiasm, low performance, failure to learn core tasks, the team can’t compliment the person’s performance, person not in demand, they spend their time on “C” and “D” tasks (Covey’s 7 Habits), late, missing, dawdling, over-socializing, blaming others, dissatisfied, daydreamers, one eye on the classifieds.
  • Where does talent misalignment exist in your organization? What will you do about it?  What will it take?  When?  How will you communicate it?

Here is an amazing truth:  A company sees very few supervisory challenges when talent is aligned.  Instead of being sucked into a black hole, critical resources of time, energy and money are put to the best use against the highest priorities and biggest opportunities.

Companies that regularly and consistently invest in their people outperform those that stint.  So help your people discover what they are best at, their natural talents, their passion, and their best fit within the organization.  Help them grow, and everyone reaps the rewards.  When people are slotted right—in roles and career paths they love and are good at—the whole world exults.  More organizations would be successful, maybe even ALL organizations.  Customer complaints would be as rare as dodo birds and fax machines.

Make this yours

The payoff is high for you to lock in your own list of foundational principles, your 7-10 consistent stewardship commandments to measure against.  I invite you to rewrite this article.  Make sure it says what YOU truly believe about talent management.  Change it, sign it, and write your name on it.  Now it’s yours.  Share it with your leadership team, your Human Resources department, in fact, your whole organization.  Do what you believe.  Keep doing it, every day.

Everyone will be better off, feel stronger, perform more effectively, and the place will really start to sing.  You’ll be positively influence the way generations after you think about leadership and humming the sweet song of legacy.