What CEOs can do to manage talent better
CEOs typically rank talent management as a strategic priority, but most companies are unable to produce the talent they need in terms of both the quality and the quantity. Many research studies will also reinforce this disturbingly familiar conclusion.
CEOs are candid enough to grade their ability to manage the talent priorities as the lowest when compared to other strategic challenges. Their lack of confidence in attracting and developing talent is not owing to a lack of intent but to the missing link of planning, disciplined execution and the disposition to look beyond the short-term.
Having said this, there are enough and more examples of CEOs who have personally driven the talent management agenda and clearly see this as the biggest legacy that they leave behind, in addition to the culture of innovation. They clearly see their roles as CEOs to produce more leaders, not more followers. Some of the most important actions a talent-focused CEO should take are:
Align the top team on the talent philosophy
Having a shared mindset is essential, otherwise everyone will apply their own judgment. This might sound soft, but remember, these are the ‘rules for the road’ and once set, will guide every decision on how you select, develop, reward and promote talent. Articulating leadership values and behaviors is a key part of the talent philosophy.
Personally manage top team engagement
Firms that achieve top quartile engagement levels and business results superior to their peers have one thing in common: a certain kind of leader across the senior management cadre. We call them “engaging leaders”. Besides driving a high performance culture and being the mettletesting sorts, they are caring and attentive mentors to their teams. Managing the engagement of this top team is entirely the CEO’s responsibility and is the real test of delivering what you expect them to deliver.
Ensure long-term commitment to HR
Talent management is not a fairweather game. Un-strategic and fragmented cost take-outs from the HR budget can sometimes be the first response to economic uncertainty, but this has long-term consequences on employer brand and the talent pipeline. CEOs always need to consider investment in talent as core and find other ways to draw efficiencies.
Communication from the CEO’s desk is scrutinized
Every word written in the CEO’s email or spoken in a town hall is carefully observed by the employees and plays a crucial role in the company’s success. Many new communication channels have added to the complexity. CEO’s communication needs to create trust and hope with employees. Employees agree that they would like to hear their CEOs speak more often. Staff forums, site visits, employee achievement, and CEO blogs are important events that need to be planned for. While being candid is always appreciated, being consistent on the non-negotiables is equally important. No amount of communication is enough, but it has to be well-timed and well-structured.
Chief Executive Officer, India, Aon Hewitt Consulting