Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Assessing the Potential You Need

For many businesses one of the biggest risks to their future success is having the right talent in place as and when key people leave the organisation.

While finding good people may be less difficult during a recession, the demand and competition for talent will increase over the next few years because of a number of factors:

  • The global economy will recover.
  • Companies are operating more and more on a global scale and can attract the best from around the world.
  • Changing demographics means that it is estimated that one in four of the working population is over 45.
  • A change in working culture and the choices people make mean that young people are more likely to move jobs.

All of this provides a number of challenges for businesses who wish to find and retain talent. At first glance it may appear easier to hire talent from the outside, to bring in “fresh blood” or someone with a “different perspective”, but is this really the right thing to do?

Certainly with competition increasing, this will become a more time consuming and expensive process. It has been estimated that it “costs” between 1-2 times the salary before a new middle management recruit becomes effective. In other words, if you hire a manager on £60,000 p.a., it could cost the company between £60,000 -£120,000 before that person starts to be effective. However, this money might be better invested (and less risky!) in identifying and developing “in house” talent.

However, what techniques are available to assess the capability and talent internally?

The first assessment that should be made is how an individual has performed previously. While previous performance is no guarantee of future success it is a good guide to how the individual is likely to perform in the future. However, there are also other factors that should be assessed such as:

  • Undertaking an assessment of an individual’s critical thinking, numerical and verbal reasoning will provide an indicator of their thinking capability and innate intelligence.
  • Psychometric profiling instruments can assess an individual’s personality traits, likely communication and leadership styles. How do these fit with what the business needs?
  • Giving an individual specific business or organisational problems to resolve will provide valuable assessments of their business acumen and problem solving skills.
  • 360 degree feedback tools are valuable for assessing an individual’s performance and behaviour in the workplace. This assessment will provide a broader view than one simply based on the line manager’s assessment.
  • Asking the individual to lead a challenging business improvement project that will take them out of their usual work experiences, will provide a valuable assessment about how they handle new and unfamiliar challenges.

Some of the above techniques can be blended with others (such as formal presentations) at an assessment/development centre. How each individual deals with such a pressurised and stressful situation will provide additional evidence of their future potential.

While the assessments described above will not guarantee the identification of those with the greatest potential, they will provide the business with vital information on which objective decisions can be based. As the marketplace for talent becomes even more competitive, it is vital that businesses meet this challenge and establish their own assessment and talent management programmes – after all you don’t have to scour the world for talent if the potential you need is right under your nose!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

What to do if it looks as if your coachee is never going to change?

The underlying purpose of coaching is for the coachee to learn how to think differently so that they can improve their life either personally or professionally. As a coach, you must find a way of raising their self-awareness and help to find ways of taking new actions to improve not only your coachee’s action but also enable them to move towards independence and self-sufficiency.

However, this process can be difficult for a person new to the world of coaching and it may take time for the coachee to recognise all the possibilities available to them. Yet, if a coachee is showing no signs of taking on board the information you wish to impart, it can be very difficult to continue with the coaching. As a coach you should be able to find a way to relate to your clients, no matter how frustrating it may be to meet resistance.

How can you reach out to your coachee?
  • It could be that your coachee is still not very aware of their potential. You need to eke out a positive response and you can do this by admitting to your coachee that the sessions are not working as you expected and devise a plan to go forward together. Hand control back over to them.
  • Could it be that there are external barriers stopping the coachee from progressing? They may not have originally been forthcoming with personal information that you need to be aware of, such as a sick relative, a complicated divorce or a medical complaint of their own. Coaching requires honesty on both of your parts and you need to adopt a holistic approach to helping a person improve professionally.
  • Are your goals the same? As a coach, you may wish to help an individual improve professionally in different ways but your coachee may just want someone to talk to, to get issues off their chest. Some people just want to talk and be listened to. Some people do find a sympathetic ear empowering as it reminds them that they are worth listening to.
  • Why has this person sought coaching? Some people truly want to improve their performance whereas other may simply begin coaching to please a superior. In a case like this, you may have to consider bringing the coaching relationship to an honest close as there is nothing you can do for them.
If you have tried for a significant period of time to engage with your coachee and find yourself getting nowhere, you need to be upfront with them. Realistically, you can only work with people who want your help. If the coachee is not willing to make coaching work for them, you need to assess whether or not they would benefit from you taking the time to persevere with their case.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Why is coaching often more effective than other forms of leadership or management development?

Businesses often are unaware of the benefits coaching can give to their employees and as a direct result, their profits. It is often suggested that coaching is more effective in improving an individual’s performance than a leadership or management development programme. This is a somewhat subjective statement and as a business, you know you cannot afford to take a chance in these difficult times, on companies offering services that have little apparent and tangible results.

So what are the practical differences between coaching and leadership or management development programmes?

Firstly the coaching process is 1 to 1 and the focus is 100% on the individual, where as leadership and management development programmes are invariably for groups. By focusing on one person at a time, there is an opportunity to address the issues the coachee may not wish to raise in a group setting. Also, the agenda and objectives for these group programmes are usually set in advance, meaning that it may not relate directly to the individual manager's specific developmental requirements. As the agenda for a coaching session is largely set by the coachee, the process becomes flexible and the results specifically tailored. On a leadership or management course, it is not easy to change the agenda and as the structure is more rigid, participants may leave with more questions than they arrived with.

When involved with coaching, the coachee may feel the call to action is stronger and more detailed than a participant of a leadership or management training course. The sessions where the action plans are often fewer and more general are clearly going to be less beneficial to those involved than action plans that are individually tailored and monitored by a coach.

A feature of coaching sessions is that notes will be taken, goals will be set at the end of every coaching session and managers will be asked by the coach if they have achieved their goals and how. Individuals are nurtured and are assessed to see if they need a different motivation technique. The ability to talk and act honestly, naturally and spontaneously is encouraged for a coachee whereas any displays of frustration, anger and emotion would be regarded as disruptive on a leadership or management training course. Managers should be encouraged to express their feelings in a constructive manner and this is generally more effective in one-on-one sessions.

There are of course, advantages for participants taking part in course-based activities, many people respond to group activity and create good networking opportunities, however, this is dependent on what you hope to get out of each method. Overall, I believe that subjects of coaching get more from their sessions purely through the specific advice offered to them. It has a powerful impact on their actions, performance but most of all, confidence in the subject’s own abilities and judgement.