• May 25, 2020
  • BY velocity

Coaching Template #2 – Talent Optimization

The setup: In the words of Jerre Stead (ex-CEO of IHS and many other great companies), one of my most influential mentors…”People are the only sustainable differentiator.”  And I always say, it’s ALL about the talent and team.  With great and engaged talent, success is achievable even with poor products or slow markets.  With subpar or disengaged talent, maximizing potential or achieving consistent success is not possible even with the best products and growing markets.

In my opinion and experience, what separates the good from the great is the executive or people manager that can be objective about talent assessments, make hard decisions to make talent changes and do this on a frequent basis throughout a business’ evolution.  And here is the bold statement for this section: In my opinion and based on my experience, I believe that only 5-10% of all managers or executives are good or great at talent optimization.  It’s one of the most needed areas of improvement for most people leaders.

When I think about the team members that need the most of my time and coaching, it is the ones that have a sub-par quality of talent on their team.  And the exact opposite is true.  The team members that I spend the least amount of time with generally perform better than the ones I spend more time with. And the sole reason for that is the quality of talent on their team.  These team members are great at hiring, great at coaching and great at upgrading talent when needed.

However, every people leader has blind spots and at some point, needs a wake up call in terms of assessing one or more of their team members.  This coaching template below is extremely helpful to improve a people leaders effectiveness at optimizing their talent.

Coaching Questions/Exercises:

I will put the “coaching questions” in more of an evaluation template versus a series of questions.

On a scale of 1-5, rank all of your individual team members in the following areas:

  1. The team member’s skills as it relates to their job or role
  2. Their will and engagement
  3. The quality of their peer relationships
  4. Their ability to recruit, lead and influence people not just manage team members (applicable if a manager of people)
  5. Their consistent demonstration of living the company’s values
  6. Their willingness to be coached
  7. Perform a formal or informal 360 degree survey of the above with a few of their direct reports, peers and leader’s peers.  Compare your assessment to the 360 feedback.

Many times, managers go down the path of thinking that the company has not set up a person to be successful or meet their goals. And while that absolutely is the situation in some cases, it’s usually just an excuse.  Using the statements below and the process above can help a manager make an objective assessment and not use the company as the scapegoat.

The Manager is 100% responsible and accountable for the following:

– Organizational design to enable success for individual team members

– Consistent coaching over a minimum of a quarter

– Open, Honest, Candid, Caring feedback to their team members.  Truth Telling!

The Manager and Team Member split responsibility 50/50 for the following:

– Coaching (giving and receiving if manager; receiving if individual contributor)

– Ownership for skill development and asking for help

– Ensuring that the team member has S.M.A.R.T. goals in place and agreed upon

– Feedback from the team member’s peers (manager) and managing peer relationships (team member)

The individual Team Member being assessed is 100% responsible and accountable for:

– Living the company’s values

– Their will to succeed, learn, grow, contribute, engage, etc.

– Working every day to achieve their S.M.A.R.T. goals

– Leading and coaching their team members (if a manager of people)

– Being open to coaching

Experience Share:  I had one of my coaching clients talk to me for months about a certain person that he did not think was cutting it.  We seemed to be going in circles as my client always found a reason to justify the person staying on board (sound familiar?).

Here is a sample of how our conversations:

John: “Bob is really a drag on my team as I cannot seem to count on him to deliver his work product without extensive help from others or me. It really pains me and my other team members when we have to do a lot of his cleanup.  But, he does have a lot of industry experience and people do like him.”

Me: “So should you upgrade him?”

John: “Yes, but I do think he does an ok job for what we pay him”

Me: “Is an ‘ok job’ what you want your boss to think of your work product and team?”

John: “No, and I see what you are saying and maybe I should upgrade him”

We had different iterations of this conversations over a few months and I finally came up with the criteria above and presented it to him and we used it on his entire team.   We used Bob as our example and after walking through items 1-6 with him, he came up with rating of 2.8.  Before we even talked about doing step 7, he said “well, this seems pretty straightforward and clear.”

Before our next coaching session, John upgraded the person. And as you can expect, he was elated as he felt a weight lifting off his should.  And at our next session, he told me about the new hire and John said she was a “significant upgrade and was killing it.”  John also told me about how much more engaged and excited he was about managing his team.