How to Ensure Your Talent Review Makes an Impact
If you want to move your nine-box calibration from a check-the-box exercise to an integral part of your talent review strategy, start the conversation with these important talent review ground rules.
Avoid This Mistake
Their faces turned a little green when they realized I was in earshot.
“I’ll talk up your candidate if you talk up mine.”
“Let’s be sure to downplay their developmental opportunities so they end up in the right box (referring to the performance potential grid).”
AND worst of all, “He’s not perfect, but who is, and we’ve been friends a long time, and he’s paid his dues…”
This not what the HR Director (the role I was playing at the time) wants to hear before a talent review.
“You get why this is completely counter-productive right?” I asked.
We fixed that scene.
But the truth is, we all know these kinds of conversations are happening right outside the door of many talent review sessions, just beyond HR’s earshot.
Seven Big Rules For a Successful Talent Review
That’s why when a client asks me to help with their talent review process, we always agree to these rules upfront.
Otherwise, it’s just a pretty grid that many hope will be ignored. That doesn’t advance the talent strategy of the organization and just leads to frustration.
1. We’re future-focused
This is particularly tricky for leaders doing a talent review for the first time.
Human nature says “Pick me (or someone who looks and thinks like me).”
But if you’re really focused on a future succession plan, a long step back to consider the skills needed for the future is vital. Take a few minutes (having an objective third party can help) to really define the KSAs needed for your most strategic positions (and BTW, some of your most strategic positions may be highly skilled folks at the front line.)
2. We speak the truth
Yes, talent reviews are important for identifying successors, but the EVEN MORE important part is finding the gaps and working on ways to grow the team to address them.
If “John” is AWESOME, but still needs work in critical thinking, PLEASE tell us that, so we can help John and get him the leadership training and experience he needs for success.
3. We care about the business, and the human beings we are talking about
We’re not trying to derail careers, we are looking to be helpful. Take a deep look at what the business and the people within it need. Let’s build a plan to leverage strengths and support development. Ask: EXACTLY how will we help people grow people into these roles?
4. Every resource is a corporate resource
When we identify someone as high-performance/high potential, we’re all committed to developing them and looking out for the best opportunities for them and for the business.
We’re committed to letting go of “mine” and “yours” and working together in this talent review process. Have candid unbiased conversations to consider lateral assignments, special projects, and promotional opportunities outside of your department for your high-potential talent.
5. The list we create will guide our staffing decisions
This is perhaps the most vital part of any talent review. Building a map that no one has any intention of following is a big waste of time. If your team is not aligned on the decisions made in the session, take a pause and revisit the outcomes.
6. How do we support and grow the high-potential individual contributors?
They’re at the front-line, you need them, they may even be leading a small team, but they’re not your next CTO. How do you re-recruit these A-players and help them build a successful career, here?
7. BONUS: Take some time and talk about the other big rules you care about and want to agree to
Linger here as needed. Go slow to go fast, to have a successful talent review.
Your turn. What are the most important “rules” for a successful talent review?
Other helpful talent review resources.
Career Development: How to Develop Your Team When You Have Little Time
How to Provide More Meaningful Performance Feedback