Friday, October 4, 2013

Take Charge of Your Talent - a Challenge - Guest Blog

Today's blog is a little different from what normally happens around here.

It starts with a little more about my story. My story is unremarkable. My grandfather was a coal miner who became a colliery manager - unheard of in the North of England in the 1950's. Miners used to spit on him in the streets. My father chose to break the mould in the same way and become a professional and qualified as an accountant. He took charge and applied his prodigious talent with numbers to accounting and business. All I did was follow along the same lines as a professional - I completed degrees an business and law with a view to becoming a lawyer. When I finished university I had 4 job offers - one with Unilever, one with Ford Motor Company, one with a law firm and one with Price Waterhouse in a new management consulting division. 3 quite different choices (Ford equals Unilever as big corporate, travel a lot, defined career path, etc). I made the choice to join a new industry of management consulting - my guess at the time in South Africa we were probably less than 50 people doing that - I was one of only 7 in my team.

That was an inspired choice to start working in a new industry which is nothing more than a talent industry. The first partner I worked for, Alan Tapnack (now a banker in London), understood that well and set me free to develop new consulting approaches to provide to our clients - I became a guru in financial modelling long before the PC or Microsoft Excel.  Events in South Africa in the mid 1980's were not comfortable and I felt I had to make a choice between continuing to do military service for a regime I did not believe in or go to prison - I took my talent and put it on an aeroplane to London.

That talent took me into McKinsey & Company where one of the partners had identified that Information technology was a key issue that McKinsey had to tackle. My time at McKinsey & Co was incredibly difficult because, for the most part, they did not value my talent as a Specialist Industry Functional Consultant in IT.  The tide did change when they hired back an experienced McKinsey Manager to drive the IT Consulting model - Sir Richard Heygate saved my career by giving me scope to exploit my talent and to not force-fit it into the McKinsey way.

In 1994, I moved on from McKinsey - ultimately I did not fit in their model and it was time for me to Take Charge of My Talent. I joined a bunch of like-minded ex-McKinsey consultants and started Mitchell Madison Group as a direct competitor to McKinsey & Co specialising in the Financial Services Industry. Over the next 6 years we ran a rocket ship that grew to the size that McKinsey had done in 50 years. What was the biggest success we had, you may ask?  It was not only about clients. We waged an amazing competitive war on talent in recruiting the brightest people we could find. These young people had to be prepared to take charge of their own talent because we also took away the shackles of the role expectations that tied McKinsey down. For example, Alex Mahon, now CEO of Shine Group, moved from Business Analayst to Associate to Engagement Manager in 18 months - a journey that would have taken 6 years minimum at McKinsey.  MMG was a success because we all took charge of our own talent. Now my success as a consultant came from one other thing that I was really good at - I coached middle managers inside my client organisations to do the same thing.

My guests today run the same mantra. One of them is a former McKinsey colleague. They have a mission to change the world by getting people to take charge of their talent. This is not a "beat the drum" and get the motivational juices going approach. It is a clearly articulated process with clear steps and clear roles to harness a few insights about one's hopes and aspirations and the obstacles getting in the way and building your own path to your own success. ENJOY (and buy the book)

A clear process to take charge

Don Maruska and Jay Perry are Master Certified Coaches who help people take advantage of business and personal challenges in unique and powerful ways. 

Putting the Keys to Talent Development in Your Hands  
It’s time for a revolution in talent development. For generations, organizations have managed talent development. They’ve figured out who the HiPo’s (high potentials) are and focused resources on them. “Trickle down” talent development has shortchanged the rest and created a huge class of PoPo’s (passed over and pissed off). In short, scarcity thinking has limited what people and organizations think is possible.

Further, we hear leaders talk about driving down corporate objectives through talent development as if people were cattle. Well, hello! Most people don’t want to be told what to do. Even those who say they do often resist direction.

It’s little surprise that over 71% of American workers responding to a Gallup poll report that they are “not engaged” in work or “actively disengaged.” What’s worse is that high levels of disengagement have persisted for more than decade, in both good economies and bad. In short, there’s systemic problem with how organizations engage their talent. Our own surveys of thousands of people reveal that even high performers in excellent organizations have 30% to 40% of their talent untapped. It’s time for a change.

Let talent bubble up. Shift from “trickle down” to “bubble up” talent development. That’s right; it’s putting the keys to talent development in the hands of the people who have the talent. This tracks a fundamental cultural shift of people taking charge of many aspects of their lives, from booking their own airplane reservations to buying and selling stocks. People want to be in charge of what’s important to them, when they have the tools to do it. So, how can “bubble up” talent development work for both employees and their organizations?

Catalyze employee self-motivation. The first key engages the fundamental source of motivation: employee self-motivation. Instead of viewing managers as “cattle drivers,” think of them as “catalysts” who act to accelerate thinking and precipitate results without taking initiative and responsibility away from team members. This shifts from a command-control culture to a take-charge culture. The latest insights from neuroscience and psychology provide guidance on how to accomplish this successfully. We’ve found that a carefully structured conversation that keeps the participant in his or better thinking and in charge of the choices proves useful for 90% or more of the participants and “very useful” and even “major breakthroughs” in 20% to 30% of the situations. The great benefit is that employees don’t have to wait for a supervisor or manager. They can follow the steps and enjoy the value of a 45-minute Talent Catalyst Conversation with one another. Thus, all team members with an interest in their talent and a willingness to be generous listeners for one another can participate. This breaks down the barriers to access.

Accelerate through obstacles. The second key transforms how team members think about obstacles. Indeed, as with sailboats that head up into the wind and travel faster than the wind itself, team members can leverage tools to turn obstacles into springboards for success. Such tools include accessing inner qualities (for example, curiosity, generosity, and assertiveness), mashing up the untapped resources before them to create more out of what’s available to them, and “speed planning” that sketches out talent action plans in less than 15 minutes to gain results quickly.

Multiply the payoffs for yourself and others. The third key invites team members to translate their knowledge and skills into enduring career assets. They transform the ideas in their heads into tangible value. For example, a staff member who wanted to become a supervisor documented guidelines for giving performance feedback. She showed concretely what she learned from best practices as well as her own experience in both mock situations and project settings. These became the proof points for her brand: “candid, constructive feedback that brings out the best in you.” As a result, she landed the supervisory job and provided a valuable, tangible asset to the organization for first-time supervisors.

Opportunities abound to unlock the talent within today’s workforce. The keys are at hand. The perfect moment is now.

Take charge of your talent NOW
The time is now. I took charge and it changed my life. the consultants of MMG took charge and they built a great firm and changed their lives. We owe it to ourselves

1 comment:

Don Maruska said...

Hi, Mark,

The story about your father, you, and the business you created is wonderfully inspiring. Thank you for presenting it.

It's amazing what happens when people take charge of their talent, address obstacles as opportunities, and work with others to multiply the value. You have offered a great example.