St. Patrick’s Day heralds in a time of celebration, parades and for many, the hope of attaining the “luck of the Irish” – a phrase commonly thought to mean “extreme good fortune.” However, it originated during the gold and silver rush years in the 19th century and referred to Irish and Irish American’s who were among the most famous and successful miners. The phrase carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck as, opposed to brains, could these Irish folks succeed!
What does this have to do with building your executive team? Nothing really, except as an analogy to illustrate how many employers approach their leadership selection today – often relying on gut feel or “luck” as opposed to careful planning and the use of data to guide them. Meanwhile, moving valuable talent into executive team roles is a strategic and imperative goal, one that can have substantial impact depending on your success or failure.
Luck or Preparation?
Arguably, the key to any successful talent selection process is being exceptionally prepared when making hiring and/or mobility decisions. The use of executive assessments can arm leaders with the data and insight they need to determine the readiness of potential executives or the specific development path needed to get them there. Here are three important ways to use assessments in building a high-performing executive team.
Create a Job Profile. Using science-backed, evidence-based talent assessments can help build position profiles – from managers and directors through the CEO - that help distinguish job roles by identifying core responsibilities, skills, and requirements specific to any position within an organization’s culture. Companies that use data to determine the readiness for each position achieve a pipeline of talent which can result in decreasing turnover costs, increasing revenue, and the creation of a successful succession strategy.
Identify Core Competencies. Another important tactic is to identify core competencies and expected behaviors for each position in the organization. Competencies should specify differentiating behavior that is exhibited by top performers and can serve as performance standards that outline expected results in that position. Measuring a person’s competencies against the position allows executives to evaluate gaps against the current job or a potential position and build development strategies accordingly.
The assessment also gives candidates a sense of what is needed to perform at a higher level, and specifically which skills and competencies to develop. The organization gains clarity into an employees’ fit and potential within the company and which competencies result in higher performance.
Create Development Plan. Organizations can link career paths to employee development by prioritizing position profile traits and identifying key experiences that employees should attain as they move along the career path. Developmental opportunities may include, for example, leadership coaching, stretch assignments, participation in cross-functional teams, profit and loss responsibility, or international exposure. These experiences provide the chance to develop competencies that are important for the next career stage. Delineating critical development experiences allows managers and employees to have more meaningful career discussions and helps determine realistic career moves.
Our Irish Blessing
The process of transitioning talent into new positions can bring challenges. However, if done with careful preparation and the use of data to guide the process, business leaders can reap the benefits of their investment in top talent and sustain a healthy – and critical – leadership pipeline.
Finally, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, we offer business leaders and hiring decision-makers a twist on the traditional Irish Blessing – “May your talent troubles be less, and your HR blessings be more, and nothing but perfectly-qualified, assessed executive talent come through your door.”