What’s new in competency frameworks?

For the last two decades, we have defined competencies as ‘measurable characteristics of a person that are related to success at work’. They can be technical in nature, such as the ability to develop a business plan or design a software program, or behavioural, which describe how a person goes about their job.

The ability to build strong customer relationships and deliver customer-centric solutions may drive success in a sales role, whilst motivating people to do their best to help the organisation achieve its objectives may be the key to effectiveness as a manager.

The value of behavioural competencies is well established. Ongoing research by Lominger, Korn Ferry and others has consistently found that that they account for between 40 and 60 percent of total job performance.

Organisations around the world recognise the need for competency frameworks that link individual competencies to the broader goals of the organisation, filtered through the business context and competitive strategy.

However, two factors are emerging that are shaping the way organisations think about their competency needs:

  • The rapidly shifting business environment demands increasing levels of resilience, flexibility and the ability to lead change and they want competencies to reflect this.
  • Many leaders recognise that they are facing an inadequate supply of top quality, ready-now talent and this is having a profound impact on hiring and selection.

In this context, the innovative new Korn Ferry Leadership Architect™ has a number of features with special appeal to those who want to:

  • Make sure their competencies are described in contemporary language that truly reflects the needs of jobs today.
  • Align competencies to their current business drivers and challenges, whilst also addressing future needs.
  • Precisely target a list of the most high-impact behaviours, skills and attributes.
  • Ensure competencies are relevant to people across the business, whilst keeping them simple and easy to use.
  • Take much of the guesswork out of putting the right talent in the right role at the right time.

In upcoming blogs we will describe how competencies themselves have evolved, how they are applied at different levels in the organisation and ways to overcome the most common challenges in implementing competency frameworks.

 

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Enhancing the Employee Value Proposition

How many new employees did you hire in the last 12 months?

What attracted them to join your organisation?

You may have listed the benefits of working with you on the career section of your website, but do you really know?

If you are finding it hard to source top talent and not securing the highly capable, motivated candidates you need, you may want to revisit your Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

A good place to start is by asking your most talented employees what they like most about working for you; and why they stay with the organisation. You could be surprised. The drivers that motivate your people may have changed, especially if the demographic of your workforce has shifted.

Next, capture the views of new employees in the onboarding process. Canvas their first impressions of what your organisation has to offer and revisit them in 12 months to see if the reality measures up to the promise of your EVP.

A strong EVP that delivers intrinsic satisfaction with the work experience drives employee engagement, leading to a healthy and happy workplace.

 

 

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Driving a development culture

What is your organisation’s investment in developing its people?

No doubt, the L&D budget comes immediately to mind. But, what about the not so obvious costs, such as those associated with getting people up to speed in new assignments, the efforts of managers in performance management and career development, the cost of job rotations or paid time off for study?

Taking all these things into account simply provides an added incentive to maximise the return on investment and take a more holistic view of what constitutes development. A lament we have heard too often lately concerns the challenge of sustaining professional development beyond an initial program or event.

What this takes is a conscious effort over time, focused on two key elements – people and systems. Most people want to grow and develop, do well and be rewarded for their achievements; and organisations need a support system in place to help them. Importantly, managers need to be active participants in the process, as nothing much will happen without their ability, interest and commitment.

Six ways to sustain people development within your organisation

  1. Ensure development initiatives are aligned to business strategy – People need to know that what they are working on will not only help them be successful personally but also contribute to the organisation’s goals.
  2. Set targets for development – Provide role clarity through success profiles that differentiate skills by level and target high performance in the job. People are more motivated to work on skills that are recognised and rewarded based on their importance.
  3. Differentiate your development offerings – People are not all the same, they have different skills, talent, motivation, values and ambition. So, whilst all people need opportunities for development, they need them in different ways. One needs the challenge of new and different assignments, whilst another wants to deepen their expertise in their particular field.
  4. Empower your managers – Managers must embrace their responsibility for developing others. However many managers are not comfortable discussing a person’s skills or giving tough feedback but these are essential aspects to what can be ultimately a very rewarding experience, developing others.   Start with simple briefing sessions on what skills are important, how skills are built and the difference between performance and potential.
  5. Make development plans personal – There are different types of development need – a weakness that needs to be a strength, an average skill that needs to be superior, an overused skill that needs to be toned down. Add to this the nature of the need – is it a single competency or a cluster of similar skills?  Is it difficult for anyone to develop or specific to the person? Should they find another way to work around it?  People generally respond well to this broadband approach to needs analysis and development planning.
  6. Offer the right tools to kick-start development  – People need resources to create and implement a development plan. A range of self-assessment instruments, sources of feedback and clearly laid out options for skill development are essential.
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Generation Y: Building tomorrow’s leaders

Generation Y, or Gen Y, is the name given to the generation of people born between 1980 and 1994. They represent the single largest generation in history and by 2025 will make up 75% of the world’s workforce. Some other facts about Gen Y:

Gen Y’s currently make up 20% of the Australian population
Almost half of them have been to university
They are the most highly educated cohort ever to enter the workforce
They have higher expectations of promotion than previous generations
One in four change jobs in any given year.

Tips for Managing Gen Y Employees in Your Organisation

Working successfully with Gen Y employees can require some adaptation and flexibility on the part of their manager. For example, if they want to make their mark by trying new ways of doing things it shouldn’t be seen as a rejection of established practices in the organisation. Here are 6 tips for managing Gen Y employees in your organisation:

1.  Knowledge

Gen Y employees have a strong desire for knowledge and learning; and will often demand workplace training as part of their employment conditions. Lack of personal development, along with limited opportunity for progression, are major factors in why Gen Y’s leave organisations. Managers should plan for this and aim to provide ongoing learning that is mutually beneficial to the employee and the organisation.

2.  Feedback

Gen Y’s need plenty of feedback and recognition. Having grown up in an era where these were freely given in school, they expect it. They are happiest when they are being listened to and respected and will perform better if this is so. They want to feel they are working towards a purpose and this will encourage them to stay motivated.

3.  Flexibility

Research shows that Gen Y’s want work-life balance and are strong advocates of flexible hours and working from home. The saying ‘work smarter not harder’ resonates strongly with them. With this in mind, managers should factor in a flexible work/life plan to suit both the employee and the business.

4.  Technology

Gen Y’s are more technologically savvy than any previous generation. They use the Internet widely in everyday social interaction and for sourcing business information. Over 75% of them have a profile on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Their managers can tap into this capability to help drive technology-based innovation in their business.

5.  Teamwork

Gen Y employees value teamwork because they enjoy participation, interaction and collaborative decision-making. As a result, they appreciate managers who pay attention to building effective teams. Because they like environments that are social and fun, managers should also ensure they make time to debrief and celebrate team successes.

6.  Career Development

Most Gen Y’s will expect a pay increase within a short period of time in a job, along with good prospects of promotion. Whilst this may not always be feasible, managers can ensure they are being given new challenges, are included in decision-making and have access to coaching and mentoring so they feel their needs are being recognised.

So, does this seem like managing Gen Y’s is hard work? If it does, consider this. Gen Y’s are energised by challenge. They find new tasks and jobs as opportunities to grow. They enjoy finding new ways to do things, as well as connecting with and learning from other people. Managers who account for the wants and needs of their Gen Y staff will find a refreshing flexibility among them. In addition, they are more likely to support organisational change as long as they are provided with the rationale for the change and have the opportunity to explore and discuss the associated pros and cons.

 

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Is leadership coaching for you?

A skilled executive coach acting as an objective and unbiased thinking partner can be invaluable if you are facing change or simply want to hone your leadership skills. Your coach can help diagnose the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and be resourceful with ideas on how you can get there.

So how do you find the right coach for you?

An important consideration when choosing a coach is to understand a little more about them as a person, as well as their style and approach, so that you can decide if the coach is the right ‘fit’ for you.

Here are 7 things to consider when choosing your executive coach:

  1. What coaching experience and qualifications do they have?
  2. Can the coach provide you with testimonials?
  3. What examples of success can the coach share with you?
  4. Do they have experience in your industry?
  5. Have they coached leaders at a similar level to you?
  6. What types of assessment tools do they use to evaluate skills?
  7. What time frame are they allowing for the coaching assignment?

Research over the past decade clearly demonstrates the positive impact of coaching on people and on business results. You can expect to benefit in various ways:

  • Greater self-awareness
  • More clarity and focus on your role
  • New ways to build relationships with colleagues and other stakeholders
  • Ideas for overcoming difficult workplace issues
  • Improved business performance

Coaching is increasingly being recognised as a powerful partnership that inspires an individual to make changes to achieve fulfilling results, personally and professionally. And, with the right coach, that partnership can be a richly rewarding experience that gives you long-lasting benefits.

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Ensuring leaders succeed in transition to a new job

The early days in a job are challenging for most newly appointed leaders. Even if they feel well equipped for the new role, they have a lot to learn about their organisation and its people, culture and way of working. Many people feel they can intuitively do this. After all, they have been successful in previous roles.

At first, it’s easy to put effort into ‘what’ to do in the new job at the expense of ‘how’ to go about it. Early mistakes such as failing to understand the culture, clarify the expectations of stakeholders or misreading group dynamics can be hard to recover from later on.

In most large organisations, up to 25 per cent of managers take on a new position in any given year. That is a lot of people facing different responsibilities, learning new skills and coming to terms with fresh challenges!

What Research Tells Us

Research shows that up to 40 per cent of promoted leaders will fall short of expectations in the first eighteen months and the risk is even greater for newcomers to the organisation. When leaders fail, everyone suffers. Morale, productivity and revenue all take a hit. What we know is that:

  • Companies who invest time and resources in onboarding enjoy the highest levels of employee engagement.
  • Individuals who fail to adapt and develop as the surrounding context changes are at risk of derailment.
  • Unsuccessful leadership transitions have a negative impact on the credibility of the selection process.

The cost of turnover at the executive level can be 2 to 3 times annual remuneration. The cost is too great to leave successful transitions to chance.

Onboarding programs that consist of a company induction combined with individual coaching reduce the risk as they ensure that people get off to a good start and build momentum for longer-term success. Everyone Wins!

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Four ways to advance the representation of women at the top

  • Today, more women graduate from university than men and yet far fewer make it to senior executive roles in organisations.
  • The percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is 15.4% and of those companies 52% have no women on their boards.[1]
  • Some 78% of women now leave their middle and upper management positions to start their own business.[2]

A challenge for women

A Harvard Business Review study conducted by Boris Groysberg and Deborah Bell found many leaders see a greater representation of women at the top of organisations is key to diversity and sustainability. At the same time, we have all heard the line that there are simply not enough skilled and experienced women around.

Here lies a challenge – women lag behind men in getting the type of assignments that prepare people for success at the top, such as those with P&L responsibility, heavy strategic demands and high visibility from top management. Understandably, it’s hard to sustain a career long term without the right experiential learning.

Agility is the key

In his article “The Importance of Agility” in Human Resource Executive online, Andrew McIlvaine says that in times of unprecedented change and uncertainty, we need to ensure that leaders have the requisite agility to not only operate in unchartered watersbut to thrive in them.

Agility has been a theme for Lominger International for two decades, after successful executives were found to embrace new and diverse challenges and integrate and draw numerous and varied lessons from them. In other words they are “learning agile”. Here is another opportunity to help women keep pace in development.

Helping women advance their careers

  1. Give women the opportunity to understand and develop their learning agility
    Women (and men!) benefit enormously from knowing where they stand now on learning agility. It is a measurable trait that can be developed. Coaching and self-help resources such Lominger’s Agile Leader series are useful for becoming a more agile leader.
  2. Ensure organisational career paths are identified and open to women
    When an organisation identifies its most critical jobs, any bias against women must be overcome so they are included in succession plans. Career pathways that are visible to themselves and others and appropriate development planning will help them stay the course to realise their potential.
  3. Support women in making successful leadership transitions
    Each step up the corporate ladder brings a new set of requirements in terms of skill, complexity of work and focus of effort. Navigating these changes at each transition is essential for long-term career success. Stephen Drotter’s book “The Performance Pipeline” is a good resource for understanding what it takes.
  4. Give women opportunities to build their professional network
    Women can often be distracted by the variety of roles they play in their lives – partner, mother, daughter, sister, etc. With so many facets to their lives, they may need encouragement to build a network of peers inside and outside the organisation, as well as finding mentors to help guide their path.

[1] Women in Leadership Report, CEDA, June 2013

[2] National Survey of Women Business Owners, Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, March 2012

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