Great guest post by rock star Talent Management Consultant at Appirio/Knowledge Infusion – Jim Viscanti (@jviscanti)
Imagine locking your senior leadership team in a room, taking their phones & tablets, and telling them they had to stay until all agreed on a talent plan for the organization.
Would they revolt?
Would they be excited?
More important, could they do it?
The most intriguing lessons from the recent Papal election do not come from what happened inside the Sistine Chapel; they come from the days immediately before locking of the doors.
The challenge for us in a (hopefully) modern workplace is the same as it was for the 115 electors in Rome: (1) how do we know our talent? (2) How do we encourage meaningful conversations? and (3) How do we make sure everyone is on the same page during & after the session?
Bring Information Together
The week leading up to the Papal elections was not simply an opportunity for old friends to re-unite, it was a critical informational gathering period. Time for electors to learn about each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and positions on various issues.
In the 21st century workplace, we are surrounded by information—databases, talent management systems, LinkedIn, etc. The companies that are truly changing the talent conversations are the ones who find a way to consolidate information and make it meaningful to leaders.
Historically, and still too often, this was in the form of HR creating 3-ring binders with pictures and work history and past performance forms. Leading edge companies however are finding a way to bring together the critical information online—a profile that not only captures the important performance history of an employee, but also his or her career ambitions, critical capabilities, and potential next steps. A place that not only allows visibility of leaders, but encourages participation by the employees.
The only way to move towards the dynamic and strategic profile though to plan for it. Think today about what information you will need to see about your people next year or three years from now. Then incorporate those critical components into your talent/technology strategy.
Set Goals & Expectations Beforehand
All the electors were gathered in Rome for a full week before they made their way to the voting site.
Did the last important leadership meeting you attended spend the first 30, 60, or 90 minutes reviewing the agenda, desired outcomes, and ground rules? Chances are you also rushed at the end of the day, wishing for 90, 60, or 30 minutes more.
Encourage leaders to discuss what will be important before a large talent session ever starts. Kick it off with dinner the night before or find a way to make sure some smaller conversations are happening even earlier. At minimum, make sure they know what is coming and provide them the resources ahead of time (a feat much more achievable if you have a plan for bringing information together that does not involve 3-ring binders).
Clear Expectations & Messages
Lastly, all of the Cardinals knew exactly why they were in Rome, everyone understood the possibility that they could be there a long time, and they had a unified message when they finally left the Sistine Chapel.
Do your leaders know why they are spending the day in a conference room? Or do they know how to communicate what happened inside that room when they leave?
Help your leaders be on the same page with the messaging of talent. Provide talking points and multiple ways to say the same thing: that talent is critical to our company and we will spend the time talking about it.
Then have leaders share that messages themselves through multiple channels. Do not rely on your communications team to publish an anonymous news item. Blogs, or especially video recordings, not only deliver a message, but they convey the commitment of that leader.
You probably will not use white smoke as part of your next talent planning session, but maybe there are some ideas worth borrowing. As the saying goes, When in Rome…
Another infusion of knowledge…