Your Career Management Resource Centre

Author: Jocelyn Bérard

Champagne

We Drink Our Own Champagne!

We’re all familiar with the expression “The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”. Too often consultants and consulting firms want to be appreciated and recognized for their deep expertise, technical knowledge and skills, but not necessarily for applying it to themselves.

I am proud to work at a firm that truly believes in the services we offer our clients.

At Optimum Talent we use an amazing psychometric tool called SuccessFinder, previously known as Pathfinder Career Systems. In over thirty years of experience, I have never seen such a powerful psychometric assessment, offering both depth and breadth of insight. Completing SuccessFinder is a prerequisite to employment with Optimum Talent, regardless of level or the position. We assess prospective personnel rigorously and make better hiring decisions by leveraging our own psychometric solution. The impact is obvious:  meaningful selection data enabling effective team composition leading to strong business results.

Many of us at Optimum Talent, including myself, have used SuccessFinder with our family members to facilitate their career and education choices. Helping those we love and esteem by using our own products and expertise reinforces our professional integrity. I hope you agree that professional integrity is the first step in delivering great services.

Another service we offer is team intervention coaching. We are often hired by organizations to work with their executive team. We facilitate strategies fostering team effectiveness to ensure their efforts are strongly aligned to achieve their business objectives. As Optimum Talent is in growth mode, we’ve had to assimilate several new executive team members in a short period of time.

To maximize our own success we took the time last July to experience our own team effectiveness process.  Building on the knowledge gained through SuccessFinder we completed the Team Effectiveness Survey which measures 9 factors for holistic team efficacy.  One of our consultants produced the team profile, analyzed the results against our business objectives, and then facilitated a full day session including the company president. Not only were we all highly engaged in discussing our strengths, but also our individual and collective red flags and how to work supportively to assure our mutual success. Believe me, self awareness is great but when awareness of your team members is combined with action planning, the impact is powerful.

Believing and applying our own talent management solutions has been a shot in the arm for our employee engagement. In offering our services to you, our current and future clients, I want to share that we believe in our own solutions and that we apply them to ourselves. We hope you will feel proud to work with us.

At Optimum Talent we walk the talk by ensuring our success is based in the products and expertise that we offer clients and what we offer is the very best in talent management.  I like to say we drink our own champagne!  And it feels really good!

Possible

The C in C-Suite Stands for Courage

Are Canadian corporations and their CEO’s cowardly?  This is the question I heard Michael Enright ask in an October broadcast of The Sunday Edition. Two items spurred this inquiry:

In 2012, while Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr. Carney admonished corporate Canada for “not putting money to work”, essentially for hoarding cash reserves which he referred to as dead money.  Mr. Carney characterized this level of caution by Canadian CEOs as excessive.  You might be interested to know that the dead money figure as of Q2 2016 is $488,758,000,000.

This summer Deloitte published a study that identifies Canadian corporations as lacking courage, specifically the “…need to get over our fear of risk to succeed”.

Let’s think about this for a moment.  Have we actually arrived at a time and place in history where business leaders, leaders in the current Canadian economy, no longer know how to make a loonie – no longer know how to lead?

If Canadian corporations don’t know what intrepid leadership looks like then my colleagues and I would like to help map this out.  We know that this talent profile exists in the people employed in businesses throughout Canada.  Here’s what we’re looking for.

The Profile of Courageous Leaders

According to our research bold, innovative and courageous leadership is characterized by 8 competencies:

  • Drives Achievement – Demonstrates an outstanding need to achieve exceptional challenges under competitive scenarios and is prepared to make lifestyle sacrifices for the sake of career advancement.
  • Sustains Profitability – Uses financial profitability, personal wealth and market share growth as the fundamental factors to judge one’s own and others performance on the basis of measured return-on-investment/cost-benefit analysis.
  • Seeks Innovation – Thinks expansively and combines novel ideas in unique ways to generate innovative solutions.
  • Embraces Change – Demonstrates the ability and willingness to adapt, contribute and support rapid change in response to different problem scenarios or objectives.
  • Initiates Independently – Demonstrates a preference for taking action, pursuing high risks and initiating projects independently of prior approval or requests.
  • Promotes Compelling Vision – Takes a longer-term and a purposeful approach to finding solutions, in order to actualize a more meaningful or worthwhile strategic goal.
  • Maintains Accountability – Demonstrates an attitude that is defined by taking responsibilities and loyalties very seriously. Assumes a sense of personal accountability for one’s direct results as well as co-workers’ actions, without seeking to blame or provide excuses for failures.
  • Builds Consensus – Enjoys working as part of a team. Emphasis is on appropriate compromise, demonstrating tact, maintaining emotional control and interpersonal tolerance rather than making demands.

Yes, the market brings uncertainty. Yes, the market impact of the recent election in U.S. is unknown. But when will we have times of complete certainty? Probably not soon! Canadian leaders need to demonstrate courage now.

Start by taking a good look at yourself and your leadership profile.  Be honest in determining which competencies are effortless and effortful, based on the profile listed above. Once you know that, you can work on your growth plan and identify who needs to surround you to complement your profile.  You and your team will both know and value the critical elements of courageous leadership.

These specific actions can support leaders in demonstrating courage to resuscitate the dead money and generate returns for the Canadian economy, the organizations, the employees and for themselves.

Case in point: Royal Canadian Mint

Ironically in an era where electronic fund transfers are dominant, the organization which literally makes loonies has reinvented itself by tapping new markets for new profitability.  The RCM services and products not only span international currency consulting and provision, they crowd source designs, craft collectables on themes including Star Wars, sell direct to consumers online, and yes, you can download the app. In 2015 the Government of Canada received $53 million in dividends.  Not bad for a Crown Corporation!

 

High potential leaders

You Must Diagnose Before You Can Prescribe

You’ve hired the best people for your organization. Now it’s time to identify the high-potentials that can take on leadership roles. This is a fundamental business investment designed to sustain your organization’s profitability now, but most importantly into the future. Essentially you are determining who can lead while you can mentor them; who will lead when you’ve moved on. Before the selection process can begin, it’s crucial that company leaders identify the unique skills and assets that each person can bring to your team.

This entails defining the set of activities that will accelerate future leaders’ development and get each ready to lead by developing their self-awareness. Just as a physician evaluating a new patient performs a diagnostic exam before prescribing a course of treatment, you must assess high-potential leaders. Performing a diagnostic assessment enables you to select proper development solutions.
To ensure a proper assessment, your diagnostic tools should include:

  • A 360-degree surveys or simulations
  • Validated personality traits inventories
  • A tailored knowledge and experience review interview or questionnaire

These three methodologies will generate a wholesome view of the high-potential leaders’ strengths and development needs.

Having collected meaningful information you can now ask the vital question that target your high-potential candidates’ self-awareness:
“What is it that one is aware of when one is self-aware?” In a nutshell, there are two answers:

  1. On the one hand, you can be aware of your identity: how you think about and evaluate yourself.
  2. On the other hand, you can be aware of your reputation: how others think about and evaluate your behaviours.

It is critical that a leader, particularly one who is part of a development process, is aware of both the impact of his or her behaviours and his or her reputation as a leader.

Self-awareness is particularly critical if there is a gap between the self-view and the reputation. When both are aligned it is considered self-accuracy.

Leaders who are highly self-aware and “honest with themselves” will recognize their challenges and gaps in order to maximize their strengths. The higher the self-awareness, the more likely the leader will improve.

Performing a good diagnostic before the prescription avoids wasting time, energy, and money. It is the right way to accelerate leadership development, for your high potential candidates and the people they will lead to sustain your organization in the future.

Team Pulling Up An Arrow

Team Effectiveness…Yeah Sure, We’ve Heard it all!

You have heard it and most likely you have experienced it too. Team building, team effectiveness training, and catchy slogans like TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More and There is no I in team. I have seen so many challenging situations, not to say horror stories in which I think the acronym TEAM could instead mean, Tearing Everyone Apart Mostly!! We’ve also learned the four stages of team; forming, storming, norming, and performing. However, for many the reality is more like a regular swing between storming, out of storming and back in storming! This could be nicely expressed with Muse’s lyrics from their song Starlight, “High hopes and expectations, black holes and revelations”.

Teamwork Placing Final Piece In Puzzle

There are certainly factors that lead to more effective team work, don’t get me wrong, I recognize and value them. Factors such as having common and clear objectives, strong commitment and building trust are often referred to in the team effectiveness literature. The establishment of business objectives is the easiest (I did not say simple) and most natural for leaders working in teams. The common issues and often most delicate is the way team members resolve different point of views, disagreement and potentially conflict. Avoiding debate on different opinions is not recommended, in fact, we want debate.

An interesting literature review done by industrial psychology Ph.D. students, including Mathieu Forget from Optimum Talent indicated that cognitive conflicts are positively correlated with organizational performance. In other words, healthy and fact based debates are constructive for the team and the organization. The literature review also indicated that affective conflicts are negatively correlated with organizational performance. In other words, unhealthy relationships with pervasive effects and negative emotion lead to poor business performance. But here is the trick, cognitive and affective conflicts are correlated at .57, i.e. when there is a healthy debate, the odds are that a negative emotionally charged discussion will erupt. Here lies the critical and most important factor that can make it or break it for any team: the capacity to resolve various levels of differences, from the different point of view, to the strong contradicting opinion up to the open conflictual arguments – and still maintain effective working relationships. 

The behaviour that can be improved by most team members is the way to have effective meaningful dialogues and debates, in such a way that the sender and the receiver of the message feel respected, involved and valued. All the while leaving the highly charged negative emotion at the door, not a small feat.

The more team members trust each other, the stronger the team will be. Trust will be built with behaviours such as team members consistently following through on the commitments; team members depending on one another to act in the best interests of the team and team members believing in each other to be competent and capable in their respective roles, including the team lead.

Working in teams is more and more frequent in modern organizations, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Avoiding the team approach is not really an option; and facilitating light and slogan driven interventions will not have the durable effect you are looking for. Understanding some key elements such as the necessity to be effective in having healthy debate and building trust will make an important difference. You now know where to focus your effort. Matt Bellamy from Muse also wrote “Don’t waste your time or time will waste you”! 

Two Businessmen Sitting Indoors With Coffee Laptop And Folder

Stop Paying Lip Service to the 70:20:10

The 70:20:10 approach to development is fairly well known by HR professionals and many line managers.  It is commonly recognized that about 70% of what adults learn comes from experience (learning by doing), 20% comes from others (working with a good leader or coach and receiving feedback), and 10% comes from formal learning (taking a classroom or e-Learning course, for example).

Though easy to understand, there is a difference between knowing a concept and applying it effectively. Unfortunately, it seems that many organizations are paying lip service to the concept; especially the 70. Development plans created for leaders are too often weak on the 70% and contain vague recommendations. Proportionally, the concept looks more like this in its application 70:20:10!

Learning while working on real business issues or assignments is very powerful. The “prescription”—the development plan—must be specific about the types of situations to which the leader must be exposed. The challenging or stretch assignment is by far the most common way organizations will grow their leaders by experience. But there are a limited amount of leaders who can be involved in stretch assignments. This view of the 70 is too limited.

There are multiple other ways to grow leaders by leveraging the 70, such as:

  • Being a member of a committee responsible for a new product implementation
  • Attending a strategic negotiation meeting with your leader
  • Leading a cross functional initiative such as Six Sigma aiming at improving organizational effectiveness
  • Collaborating with a university on a research project
  • Training peers and other employees on a new sales management and reporting system
  • Leading a charitable initiative in your community, etc.

Many examples of learning-by-doing do not require the leader to leave their current job. The experience can be short or long, in-depth or light, internal or external to the organization. 

Business presentation on corporate meeting.

In order to support the line managers to truly leverage the 70, an in-house customized repertoire of high added value experience can be created. This allows the leadership to “see” the number of ways leaders can learn by experience. Because in fact, the 70:20:10 can’t be managed and directed like the formal learning; you can only support it, facilitate it and help make it happen.

It is often said that the 70:20:10 allows leaders to learn at the speed of business; the amalgamation of the multiple ways to learn and grow makes it more real and applicable to today’s work environment.

What is critical to retain from the model is not the % allocated to each component of the model, but that leaders will maximize their growth and chances to progress in their career if they leverage multiple ways of learning and learn constantly, no matter how it is being categorized!

Jocelyn Bérard is the author of book  “Accelerating Leadership Development.” He can be reached at jberard@optimumtalent.com