How good is your talent decision-making?

Recently I met up with a long term friend of mine whom
I hadn’t seen in many years.  
 
Our lives had taken different paths since we were at
university together. Although we both travelled, I came back to Australia after
a couple of years and he did not.  
 
He pursued a career in professional services with a
global top-tier firm in another country and has since made his life there,
although he frequently returns to Australia. Through capability that was never
apparent to me thirty years ago, my friend had risen to be one of the most
senior four partners in his firm. He is currently responsible for a business
stream of nearly 300 partners.  
 
The week before we met up, he had played golf with
Phil Mickelson. He’s moving in those sorts of circles these days.  
 
As we talked about our lives and work, the
conversation shot back and forth around the table to his other long-time two
friends, who were also present at the dinner. These other two friends were both
CEOs in well known local organisations.  
 
As the good and bad of our respective work lives was
discussed, the point that everyone agreed on was clear – one of the most
important jobs that any leader has is the skill to select, hire and develop the
right talent. In the current work environment that is greatly impacted by the
respective forces of globalisation and communication technology (predominantly
internet access on a mobile device), this skill is even more important than it
has ever been.  
 
The speed with which change occurs is only increasing
which means businesses get left behind before they really know, or understand,
what is happening, as former GE CEO, Jack Welch clearly understood.  
 
‘If the rate of change on the
outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, then the end is near.’
 

Jack Welch

 

The capability to make the right decision   on
talent, wherever that talent is in their life-cycle as an employee, is crucial,
as Jack Welch proved in his legendary approach to employee appraisals:.

 

You got to be rigorous in your appraisal system. The
biggest cowards are managers who don’t let people know where they stand.’
   

Jack Welch

 

Welch built his reputation on many
things but predominantly, I would suggest his view of talent and the importance
of making the right decisions on talent; who to hire, who to promote, who to
let go, was fundamental to his success.

 

It appears that this skill is assumed
in senior executives, but it never should be, as the conversation with my
friend demonstrated. 

 

My friend was discussing another
executive in his business, one of the firm’s most senior leaders globally and
the inability of this leader to make the hard decisions on people; the
decisions necessary for the profitable future of the firm.

 

As recruiters, we see and hear about
this lack of hard decision-making more frequently than many other
professionals.

 

Yet for the leaders of recruitment
agencies it’s relevant to ask the question: How good are we at making those
talent decisions ourselves?

 

It is interesting to revisit the interview I had with SARA
Award winning Six Degrees Executive  , Director Nick Hindhaugh  
earlier this year. This is what he had to say on their own recruitment and
development process:

 

‘There are a number of parts to our
process that involve not just looking for clones, or people with existing
recruitment industry experience, but being open minded to strong industry
experience as well. Some of our best talent has come from non recruitment
roles.

 

For us, energy, reliance, learning
agility and ‘fit’ are equally important but it’s also crucial that new hires
are passionate and high performers in whatever they do.

 

We are reasonably robust in the
recruitment process which involves several in depth interviews, testing, a
presentation and socialisation to assess team fit. The keys though to success
have been a well structured induction and training program in the first 6
months as well as ongoing training post this.’

 

What I take from what Nick said is
that Six Degrees Executives have:

 

1.      A
clear and consistent recruitment and development process for their talent

2.      A
clear and consistent decision-making criteria for each step of the process in
(1) above

 

These two things might sound like
common sense but I can attest that there are many recruitment agencies that
have neither of these things in place.

 

Here is a checklist you may wish to
use as a gentle form of self-assessment for your internal talent
decision-making:

 

Talent decision making criteria  
Yes/No  
Action required  
We have a recruitment process that
we follow each time for every position?
 
 
The decision-making criteria at
each step of the above process is known and followed consistently?
 
 
We have an induction process that
we follow each time for every position?
 
 
Post-induction we have a
development plan and decision-making criteria that ensures we can make a
decision about continuing employment for each new hire before the probation
period expires?
 
 
Post-probation we have a
development plan and decision-making criteria which ensures that each
employee is meeting or exceeding performance expectations, being
performance-managed or their respectful exit is being arranged?
 
 

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