Monday, 30 November 2009

The Icing on the Cake

I had the pleasure last week of attending the Institute of Recruitment Professionals annual award dinner, courtesy of my client, Derek Goff of Advanced Resource Managers who had been nominated for the Best People Development Business Award 2009. And I am delighted to say that it turned out to be a winning nomination!

But being recognised in this way is really just the icing on the cake for what has been a hugely successful investment in both leadership development and talent management. Like most recruitment companies ARM were facing challenging economic conditions at the start of the year but while others were cutting costs, this Havant based recruiter was investing in its people. Here's a summary of what worked so well:

  1. The company made a proactive investment in people development during a recession.

  2. The program was driven from the top, embraced and supported by the whole senior leadership team.

  3. The program was divided into two halves - a leadership development program for existing people managers and a talent development program for prospective managers.

  4. The program was designed and delivered on a modular basis so that delegates could apply their learning between modules and I could review their experiences at the beginning of the next module.

  5. Derek Goff, the Learning and Development Manager, attended each module so that he could provide ongoing coaching support.

  6. The leadership program was aligned with the Chartered Management Institute's professional qualifications so that staff could receive formal recognition of their achievement.
But the aspect that impressed me most was the overall attitude and application of the staff attending each module. These were busy people who have faced a challenging business environment all year and yet they produced a 100% attendance record and worked together between modules to ensure key concepts and principles were being applied in their day-to-day activities.

Not surprisingly, the company, the managers and their staff are reaping the rewards of all this as they set themselves to come out of a tough economic climate stronger than they went in. From my perspective, it was a pleasure to have worked with ARM, designing and delivering both the leadership and talent development programs and providing additional coaching support when required.

In an industry where less than 1% of annual turnover is invested in staff training, it is refreshing to see a company reverse the trend. The real prize is the positive impact on the business and people's careers and while it is nice, last week's award is really just the icing on the cake.

From Left to Right:
Derek Goff, Learning & Development Manager ARM
Samantha Templer, Human Resources Manager ARM

Simon Cooper, Program Facilitator
Joel Hard, a member of the talent development group who has since been promoted to Team Leader

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The problem with promoting your best people

I recently appeared on the Sales Roundup Podcast discussing the problems and challenges of promoting top sales people to the role of sales manager - a problem that is magnified with a failure rate as high as 50%. This problem is not restricted solely for promoting the best sales people but can be extended to a wide range of expert doers from I.T. to finance and just about any specialist or professional discipline.

The major challenge faced by expert doers being promoted to management or leadership roles is making the transition from doing the job themselves to getting it done through others - often, people who are not (yet) as good as doing the job as they were. This presents significant issues around delegating to others, training or coaching others, making performance interventions, helping others to solve their own problems, trusting and empowering the team, motivating others. In short, it is a steep learning curve and one that all first-time managers have to go through.

But, here's the kicker...

Many expert doers don't really want to be managers but rather, it is the only career path available to them if they want to be promoted.

On the one hand, companies need to consider creating expert career paths that do not include managing others, enabling expert doers to progress and add value in other ways. On the other hand, when promoting expert doers to management roles, companies need to invest time and resources in training and supporting them through the transition. The key learning areas are likely to be:

- How to manage and motivate others.
- How to move from self-centred behaviour to team-centred behaviour.
- How to create an environment where results are delivered by others.
- How to help others learn and solve their own problems.
- How to let go of the doing.

This training should be at the point they need it - either just before or at the time of making the transition to management. Ongoing support or coaching should be provided through the first year or two in a management role. And if it doesn't work out, a route back to being an expert doer should be made available.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is the author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.