In over a decade of helping leaders develop themselves and their people I have developed a secret question.  It is probably the most impactful thing out of my mouth as I listen to the processess that are in place and the dreams/frustrations of senior leaders as they try to get the right people in place to make their business plans a reality. (aka:  talent management)

Ready?  Here it is . . . .

So what was their input on specific development needs and career goals?

I do not promote performance evaluations, career plans, or development plans – – I promote performance conversations, career conversations, and development conversations.  The plan piece is the outcome that promotes ownership, supportive commitments, and ultimately the buzzword of the year for 2011 – accountability.  In many ways, the plan is the easy part.

Yesterday I went to a Family Business Alliance event and listened to an executive from White Castle, Jamie Richardson, speak about their family business and share some great stories around everything from preserving culture to being a key small business voice in the healthcare debate.  (fyi:  the Harold and Kumar movie was NOT their idea. You have to love having people do movies about your product 🙂 )  When asked about how the nine 3rd generation leaders approached the question of “Who wants to be CEO?”, he said they did two things:

  1. Gave each a 360 and, as a group, shared the results and explored strengths, weaknesses, and needs together.
  2. Asked each the question “Do you want to be CEO?”

In the end, two people answered yes, so the process continues.  This is one of those processes that is not easy, but it is simple.

Great talent management processes are well designed, well communicated, and have to be understood by the participants. 

AND . . . . Don’t forget to put most of your effort into making it a conversation.

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