Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | January 25, 2016

Build a Leadership Pipeline: Minimize Retention Risk

Many agree that good leadership is pivotal to an organization’s success.   However, to sustain leadership strength, a company needs a well-planned leadership pipeline.

Leadership development ensures that an organization has the right people in the right place at the right time.  And, this allows the existing leadership team to better focus on more immediate matters by giving them the peace of mind that comes from knowing the future organization will be in good hands.  This is a concrete and important outcome that stakeholders care a great deal about.

So how do company leaders get peace of mind on this issue?  Here are a few steps that can help:

First, when developing a strong leadership pipeline, a company should think about the quality of talent that the pipeline will deliver, meaning it is important to identify and target employees with the appropriate attributes for leadership roles.

Second, organizations need to ensure that employees are allowed to develop in roles that push them beyond comfort zones.  Leaders need to stretch, and sometimes this means placing a person in a role for which they may not appear quite ready, at least not on paper.  In this regard, senior managers must balance the need for leadership development with the risk of failure.  This means being able to step back and watch people learn through adversity – and, yes, this takes courage and getting comfortable with advancing people based on potential rather only on accomplishments.

Lastly, companies should invest in leadership development workshops, executive coaching, employee mentorship programs, and succession planning because talented employees who don’t see a commitment to their professional development, on the part of the company, may become a source of retention risk when approached by the competition.

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Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | March 6, 2012

Is Your Career Ladder Leaning Against the Right Wall?

While some of the most successful people end up in careers for which they, initially, gave little planning –  somewhere along their journey they have, likely, paused and thought about whether or not the work that they are doing plays to their innate strengths.

When I write about innate strengths I am referring to things that we are able to do with very little effort.   Some would say that these are things that come naturally.  Work that builds upon our natural talents does not feel like work and getting paid for such work is a bonus for the person on the receiving end!

Have you heard of someone who has sacrificed a great deal to attain a particular career and after working in that field for a while discovered that they don’t like the daily tasks involved and they are not suited to the work itself and or the work environment?    While it is true that experience is never wasted as we invariably learn something from the process, depending upon what was sacrificed to gain that career there is a good chance that one may feel significant regret with the outcome described above.

To prevent going too far down a career path that doesn’t fit well it is worthwhile to spend a bit of time up front evaluating our interests, values, and strengths for it is where they intersect that we will find our most rewarding and engaging work.

by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | February 15, 2012

Best Time To Upgrade Talent Pool? During An Economic Downturn

As deteriorating performance forces increasingly aggressive head count reductions, it’s easy to lose valuable contributors, damage morale, or drop the ball on important training and staff-development programs.

Companies can maintain their attractiveness to internal and external talent by using cost-cutting efforts as an opportunity to re-design jobs so that they become more engaging for the people undertaking them.  Head count reductions provide powerful incentives to use existing resources better by breaking down silos and increasing the span of control for challenging managerial roles—which improves the odds of engaging key talent.

In addition to re-designing roles, companies cutting jobs should carefully protect training and development programs. These are not only essential to maintaining workplace morale and increasing long-term productivity, they also give people the skills necessary to carry out the newly designed jobs.

Before undertaking widespread layoffs, companies should use their performance-management processes to help identify strong employees. Companies that conduct disciplined, merit-based assessments of performance and potential are well placed to make good personnel decisions.  These companies should bring additional strategic considerations such as (i) which types of talent drive business value today, and (ii) which will drive it three years from now.  Also important is information pertaining to which talent segments are currently available and which will be in the future.  Critical to this analysis is the understanding of which types of talent will take years to replace or develop— in an environment where retirements are dramatically reducing supply.

Using slowdowns to uncover and hire displaced talent is often fruitful.   Studies have shown that although overall levels of recruitment may level off or even fall, the quality of workers hired rises in recessions.  Opportunities to find and hire displaced talent may be particularly valuable during our current economic downturn.

by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | December 12, 2011

Diversity, Tolerance, Acceptance and Beyond

Diversity has become a focal point for many organizations, but there is still a long way to go.  Diversity must be integrated as an on-going part of a savvy business’ overall strategy to meet the needs its employees and customers.

Companies that view Diversity as a business imperative typically employ those who represent a significant part of their customer base and these companies also view Diversity as the optimal solution for sustaining competitiveness, rather than a legal or moral issue.

Organizations, generally, reside on a continuum that ranges from complete resistance to Diversity in all of its forms, through the mid-point where the need for implementing Diversity practices is acknowleged, concluding with the other extreme of the continuum where full pluralism is embraced in such a way that difference goes beyond being tolerated and accepted – it is deeply valued. 

Organizational leaders can take the following actions to enhance the perceived value of personal, interpersonal, stylistic, national orgin, ethnicity, race, gender, language, ability, sexual orientation, marital status and age difference within their, respective, organizations:

Communicate Diversity goals.  Expand the frames of reference within the company by obtaining input pertaining to Diversity from a broad base of stakeholders.  Use this input to formulate and communicate pertinent Diversity goals.

Assess the present state of Diversity within your company.  This will provide a baseline for subsequent changes that occur.

Discuss ways to move past stereotypes and prejudice.   Managers and employees representing all disciplines and geographic areas of the company should be included in these discussions.

Identify ways to track organizational progress on Diversity over time.

Adopt Diversity best-practices being used by organizations in your field or community.  See what the competition is doing.  Contact local ethnic organizations that support your community and become better tied in with local demographics.

by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | July 8, 2011

Talent Portability: Will Newly Hired Stars Continue to Perform Well?

“Talent” is still the rallying cry of hiring managers and CEOs everywhere.  The belief is that such individuals are a key source of competitive advantage.  And, past research is clear on the benefits of high-performing workers, frequently referred to as “stars”.

But reaping the benefits of stars is not as simple as it seems.   How can leaders guarantee that stars will continue to perform well?  And, what about their future tenure with the organization – will they stay long enough to make the company’s investment worthwhile?

In actuality, stars may not be as portable as they – and the companies that woo them – might think.  The issue of portability is complex and multifaceted.  Organizational leaders need to think strategically about why workers’ talent is portable and some is not.

In the early 1960s economist Gary Becker identified two types of human capital: general skills, which have potential value to more than one employer, and company-specific skills, which are useful to only a single employer.

General human capital raises portability and company-specific capital erodes it.  Skills ordered from most to least portable are general management (skills, knowledge and traits required to lead entire organizations, units or divisions), strategic (specific experience in cost cutting, driving growth, rightsizing, and so on), industry-specific (skills and training useful in one industry but not in others), relationship (interpersonal  relationships within a company) and company-specific (knowledge of an organization’s routines and procedures).

To assess portability of the skills of a candidate for a success in a particular role, organizational leaders need to gain clarity on the following questions:

  • Does the role rely extensively on teamwork?
  • Will the candidate require sponsorship or buy-in from colleagues or other in order to take action and be effective?
  • Will the person be engaged in knowledge sharing?
  • Does the role require that the person be reliant complementary functions or departments?
  • Is the role primarily engaged in external relationships with customers, suppliers, partners or others?
  • Does much of the value of the role come from unique capabilities, team building, an understanding of workplace culture or other intangible qualities?

by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | June 20, 2011

The War for Talent is On

It is no secret that companies are finding it harder to fill critical jobs these days.  They are struggling to land top recruits in emerging markets, for instance, and haven’t prepared existing employees to step seamlessly into management roles.

To meet the challenge companies must rethink how they hire, train and reward their employees, placing those tasks at the heart of their business plans.  In doing so, they have an opportunity to address all these separate problems with a unified plan, rather than waste time and resources addressing each of the issues individually.

Successful companies understand and exploit capabilities that let them provide value to their customers.  Your talent management initiatives should focus on building those capabilities among your employees.

Talent Management is everyone’s job.  This commitment should extend throughout the company and be characterised by enterprise-wide talent practices facilitating high levels of employee engagement and widespread accountability from senior leaders to front line managers.

Global excellence needs local effectiveness.  If a company wants a rich and diverse flow of talent in its core operation it must begin with well-crafted and efficient hiring and development practices in its local branches.  If your company can effectively recruit and nurture employees at the local level and then feed them into the core operation, diversity will happen naturally, without the need for special outreach efforts.

Support matters.  Even a company’s highest potential employees may need help in taking on the challenges they will face with new assignments.  Provide them with frequent coaching and feedback, connect them with each another so that they can share best practices.    Offer executive-education opportunities that will supplement their skills and perspectives.

Establish a set of metrics for talent development, linking them to your company’s strategic objectives whenever possible.  For instance, measure how well the company retains key employees and high-potential ones.  And, frequently assess those that are in line to fill critical assignments.

by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | June 12, 2011

The First 90 Days

Congratulations on your new job.  Whether this is with your existing employer or a new one, many of the same dynamics come to bear.  No matter what, a change in leadership represents a significant transition for the group.  Much of their reaction depends on how each person relied upon the previous leader and how they feel about his or her departure.

Here are a few things that you can do to speed up the integration period:

1) Don’t make any sudden changes. 

Every leader feels pressured to leave his or her mark on an organization – but too much change too fast can be the source of anxiety for your team.
2) Meet one-on-one with each team member.

Use this meeting to get to know them and what they do.  Ask them what their key frustrations are, and what they need from you to continue to be successful.  Reveal enough about yourself, your leadership style and previous experiences that you have had.  Don’t be afraid to admit some of your vulnerabilities and areas where you will need their help.
3) Have regular team meetings.


4) Rely on the team.

Lean on the team for their expertise and expect them to deliver.  Let them lean on your for support and encouragement.  Many an unmotivated person has been lacking a leader who believes in them.
5) Be clear about your goals.

One of the scariest things for people with new leaders is to try to figure out new expectations.  Take the mystery out of that as soon as you can.

by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | June 6, 2011

Succession Planning That Lets You Sleep At Night

Imagine that you are about to embark on a highly publicized national road show to launch a new product for your company.  Without notice your key presenter defects to a competitor.  You can’t cancel the road show.  You reach for your succession plan – and discover that there is no one ready and available when you need them most.

A big business risk is the unexpected loss of knowledge, skills and client relationships – these assets are embodied in your people.  Good succession planning can save your business time, money and reputation.  It can build the business too — because many high calibre candidates are attracted to companies that pay attention to their past career path.

Here are 5 Ways to Bolster Your Succession Planning:

1) Identify Critical Roles Within Your Organization:

It is easy to estimate one’s value to a company – we would all like to believe that the business would fail without our contribution.   While each role is important only a few are critical.  A good rule of thumb is to identify one or two critical roles for each major functional area in the organization.

2) Look Broadly at Your People:

When deciding who will make the best successors, think in terms of both performance and potential.  High potential individuals may be new to the company but showing great initiative.  They may also be people who are caught in a situation where they can’t shine, but have shown their value in the past.

3) Discuss People and Succession:

Peer review sessions are great opportunities to uncover hidden talent within the company.  Technology can be leveraged for these meetings, in order to contain costs.  Remember, talent should be viewed an “organizational asset” rather than a “departmental asset” – this mindset discourages talent hording.

4) Put Talented People into Feeder Positions First:

Feeder positions are those that are natural breeding grounds for successors who will lead  the company in the future.  They aren’t always a level below the role that you are trying to fill.  For an incumbent to be effective in a role he or she may need exposure to completely different areas (functionally, geographically and by-product) of the organization.

5) Create an Early-Warning System:

People’s situations, attitudes and motivations change rapidly.   Do you have a systematic way of assessing the company’s retention-risk on key people?  Train organizational leaders to identify the signs of employee dissatisfaction and disengagement.  Each successor should have a Developmental Plan and it must be reviewed two or three times per year.

by  Caroline Cole,  Practice Leader,  Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | June 2, 2011

Guidelines for Crafting a Strategic Agenda

A well-designed strategic agenda can be used both to direct and mobilize people, ensuring that their attention is focused on the core initiatives that will have the greatest impact on positive organizational performance.

1) Take the necessary time to create a compelling picture of where you want the organization to go and resist the inclination to lock into a plan too quickly.

2) Diagnose the company’s problems beginning with the customer’s perspective and continuing with a grounded view of what the company stands for.

3) Build the strategic agenda in a joint effort with your team versus in a silo.

4) Incorporate an explicit plan to address cultural issues and also barriers to change.

5) Expect pushback on your agenda, but rather than resist, coalesce that input in a positive way to maximize buy-in.

posted by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | June 1, 2011

Talent Acquisition Practices that Improve Employee Retention

Hiring the right candidates requires a combination of art and science.  Art in this context refers to your experience, gained over years, and science refers to the use of research-based occupational assessments that can help you to select employees who, in addition to being technically sound, are a good fit with the organization’s culture.

The following are a few considerations that can be leveraged to improve the outcome of hiring decisions:

1)  Be clear on the required knowledge, skills, attitudes, and other attributes.  Frequently expectations pertaining to the technical skills required for a role are based on the previous or current incumbent.  Perhaps there is desire to maintain or improve upon what we currently have or previously had.  Instead, spend time clarifying what is required for success in the role without being distracted by the specifics of the previous or current incumbent.  Think about how that role impact’s the organization’s strategic goals and what technical and soft skills as well as attitude are required for success.

2) Screen candidates based on their fit with the organization’s culture.  This can be done by using the occupational assessment tools provided by Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

3) Be sure to provide a realistic job preview during the recruitment and selection process.  When the honeymoon period of a new job ends, talented employees often say bitterly, “this is not what I had expected – or – it is nothing like what was described to me when I was hired.”

4) Provide an opportunity for several employees within the organization to interview the candidate.   The outcome of these interviews will assist in the hiring decision and it will give the candidate a closer look at people in the organization as well as its culture.

5) Verify career, educational, and other background information.

posted by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.

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