Performance and potential or Potential and performance – ever wondered what is recognized or discovered first? Many seasoned HR practitioners and leaders will tell you that you can do it simultaneously. A talent management course will explain this process well in terms of how it flows as well as the inter-linkage with the performance management approach.
Irrespective of which one is assessed first, the important thing to remember is that to make the talent management process effective enough to produce great leaders, a robust performance management system needs to be in place.
Talent management works on the premise that high potential talent has been found using the performance management process as well as other sources like assessment centers and so on. It then goes onto run this identified talent through a set of developmental initiatives so that those can groom them to become leaders. What seems to be amiss? There is no way performance management factored into the talent process. Even those who have been identified as leaders for key roles, need to be assessed, because that is the only way to know if they will be effective. Here is how these need to be connected to ensure that your organization has effective leaders.
- Regular tracking mechanism – Performance measurement does not stop with the talent being selected for a higher role. You need to have a regular tracking process which ensures that there is a feedback cycle factored in. This has to be embedded into the talent management process as well, to ensure that at every stage of leadership development , the individuals are receiving feedback on their performance and the gaps to be addressed. That will ensure that those who become leaders at the end of the process have not only learnt to leverage their strengths, but also introspected on their weaknesses and how to manage those.
- Effective parameters – When you assess performance, you have a set of parameters to evaluate each person on. These are usually a mix of behavioural and functional elements. When the talent management process takes place, in order to ensure that the leaders are effective, the parameters need to be aligned to that. So ensuring that the parameters are well-linked to businesses that the leaders will be expected to deliver on, will be essential.
- Two-way Communication – When someone is being developed as a leader, they have high aspirations as well as expectations from the talent management program, as well as the HR team. Therefore, at times they might be keen to share how it is going or if they have certain challenges. Making sure that the communication process is always two-way and an open dialogue helps a lot. This ensures that your potential leaders will not think of exiting the firm due to any issues that they face during the talent management process. Just as the performance management process works well when there are conversations, this process should also take the same approach. It can reduce or even prevent attrition.
- Results Orientation – All aspects of the talent management approach should have a clear results based orientation. What is means is that the leaders who are part of the development process should be aware that results are what will make the difference. They are being groomed for bigger roles and some of the interventions might be essentially for them to develop certain skills further. Even so, how they achieve the results that are expected from them or communicated to them, will be important.
- People Management Skills Evaluation – To be an effective leader, one of the biggest qualities is that of being an excellent and approachable people manager. You need to track that aspect in those who are part of the talent management program. While many of them might have already exhibited these qualities when they were assessed during their performance appraisal, this needs a fair bit of tracking during the developmental initiatives too. This is because they are being put through learning interventions or projects, which can put them out of their comfort zone and they are likely to react differently under stressful situations. So evaluating them on the skills that are related to how they manage their teams and people relationships in those circumstances is a good way to make them effective leaders.
- Company Vision and Values Alignment – An individual might be an excellent performer as well as have potential to grow further, but if they are misaligned to the values and vision of the company, there will be a serious problem at a later stage. It is important to assess this during the talent management phase, so that if there are any red flags that one needs to be aware of, they can be uncovered early.
These are the performance-linked aspects that a potential leader who is part of the succession planning program should be assessed on. Organizations should create these checks into their talent management process so that they can ensure that the leaders who are developed, are effective.