How growth-minded CEOs operate their talent management systems


Editor’s note: John Lankford is a four-time winner of a North American Business Advisor of the Year award. He has 23 years of corporate experience and 12 years of entrepreneurial experience. He is also the author of the book, “The Answer is Leadership… What is the Question?” Lankford will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Executive Forum, presented by BizTimes Media, on Thursday, March 21, from 7 to 11 a.m. at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee.

What do high-performing companies have in common? Their senior leaders actively focus on, participate in, and refine their systems for finding, keeping and growing great employees.

Said another way, every organization’s performance is directly related to the way leaders at the top operate nine specific talent management systems.

Conversely, senior leaders who fail to actively engage in their talent management systems find themselves struggling with avoidable problems that eventually drain their bottom line and create endless chaos across their businesses. Unfortunately, this disconnect continues to be the norm in businesses across America.

The business case for how well your executive team makes talent a business priority will directly impact your organization’s ability to execute and outperform your competition.

Your management of these nine talent management systems will decide if your culture attracts the 51 percent of employees who are looking for a better place to work, according to Gallup.

  1. Recruiting system 
    A well-designed recruiting system is the result of solid strategic design. Too often, the precise “look and feel” for the system, who should be involved, where and how candidates are sourced, and clarity around the exact type of talent the company wants to hire is poorly defined and rarely communicated.
    What is the gap between your current recruiting system and an industry leader’s recruiting system?
  2. Hiring and selection system
    A solid hiring and selection system is focused on what it will take to replicate the company’s short list of top performers. Unfortunately, most executives are too removed from the process and practices for hiring new employees to notice the glaring gaps that exist. Inconsistencies, lax and careless execution, properly titled but poorly trained professionals, and inadequate assessment tools sabotage even the best of efforts.
    What changes would your company experience if you hired only “A or B” performers for the next five years?
    Are you hiring the right people? According to Gallup, for the first time in decades, there is a new No. 1 reason for turnover (across all industries) in America: lack of training/development and career growth opportunities.
  3. Onboarding system
    Onboarding, often called new employee orientation, is one of the most commonly underleveraged and mismanaged HR systems. World-class organizations take onboarding seriously by designing a process that engages, educates and equips new employees for success. But most organizations drag employees through a pile of paperwork and then put them to work immediately, creating a poor first impression and inspiring boredom and disengagement.
    What would it save you in hard dollars annually if the productivity of all new hires increased significantly and in a more timely manner, because of how quickly and effectively they were onboarded?
  4. Training and development system
    Organizations really have three options when it comes to people. They can tolerate their existing performance, go outside the company and buy new talent, or develop the talent already on their payroll. Recently, a national survey showed that employees at most mid-sized to large companies received 35.2 hours of training, while employees at world-class organizations allocated 49.1 hours, on average. Do you have a strategic system for training and development?
    What would it mean to your company’s profitability and customer loyalty to have the most talented, skilled and well-trained workforce?
  5. Accountability system
    Accountability aligns every full- and part-time contributor to the key priorities of the organization. Managers and associates have clear expectations, understanding of their role, knowledge of how they will be held accountable, and clarity around how their performance will be measured and compensated.
    What would be possible in your company if every contributor was aligned with your company goals and enthusiastically executing to plan?
  6. Leadership development system
    If leaders create the culture of your business through their behaviors, why do so many executives make decisions around their management development based on cost? Developing leaders is one of the best investments a company can make and, if done correctly, will always pay for itself. This is because of a very simple premise: an organization will never outperform its leadership team.
    How would a leadership team that consistently executed with excellence impact your bottom line over the next two years?
  7. Promoting of talent system
    Great performing organizations take promoting talent seriously. Nothing is left to happenstance. They establish a process for identifying and preparing associates to become frontline managers. They proactively groom hand-picked directors and middle managers for executive level positions. They recognize talent and do what they need to do to keep it.
    How would your management team perform if only the most talented people were promoted into management positions?
  8. Compensation system
    Far too many companies approach compensation in a casual, unstructured way. Although laws vary from state to state, all demand consistency. Discrimination or preferential treatment in base pay increases, bonus systems, profit-sharing, or any other method of recognizing effort and results is strictly forbidden. This makes developing a uniform system and properly training every manager to consistently execute it non-negotiable. 
    What would be the hard savings annually if every contributor’s compensation was directly tied to their measurable performance, as well as the measurable performance of the company?
  9. Measuring culture system
    Every culture is a reflection of its leadership, whether by design or default. Jeof Bean, co-author of the book, “The Customer Experience Revolution,” conducted research that concluded: “The top 10 customer experience leaders generated cumulative total returns that were 41 percent better than the S&P 500 Index.” How leaders treat employees is how employees treat your customers.
    Do you have a culture that attracts the talent you need to achieve your goals for 2019?

It’s important to recognize that designing and improving your nine talent systems is only half of the equation. The other half is dedicated execution. Strategic tracking and accountability are critical for the execution and long-term sustainability of each system.

Knowing the ins and outs of your company’s talent systems can put you steps ahead of your competition. Each of the above talent systems is unique, yet all are integrated and contribute to the quality of your greatest asset – TALENT!

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