Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Value of Mid-Level Management

I define management as the act of getting people to work together to achieve a common goal. In most organizations, the responsibility and roles of management vary by level and in most, the senior level management is responsible for the overall direction or strategy of the company and the middle level management is responsible for the tactical component that implements the plan developed by the senior level.

Strategic business initiatives and desired outcomes are normally focused on the financial results including shareholder satisfaction. Mid-level managers are responsible for the interlocking functions associated with management like organizing, planning, controlling, coordinating, and commanding. This responsibility also includes the utilization of available resources needed to produce the desired results.

Mid-level managers are responsible for developing plans of action, understanding policies and procedures, monitoring the progress of the department in relation to their goals, maintaining budget requirements, and keeping the workforce engaged.

In other words, it is the mid-level manager’s responsibility to clarify the business strategy so everyone can understand the plan or direction of the company. They must continue to break down the strategic business plans into functional plans that can be satisfied at the workforce level, make decisions and solve problems so that the plans are implemented properly, and then monitor the progress. This monitoring allows the manager to manage using metrics and help senior management take any corrective action to keep the ship on course.

The functionality of the strategy and the tactical application is the key for any company and the middle management will always continue to be the glue that adheres the top of the company to the bottom.

Isn’t it time to realize that if you improve the productivity of your people and focus on the development of their strengths, the end result will be a more effective organization? Especially if they are about to become mid-level managers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Talent Management Means Competent Leadership

Talent Management is an entity that has been slowly evolving within many corporations. Most corporations list the following practices as part of their overall program:

  • High potential employee development
  • Leadership Development
  • Professional Development
  • Succession Planning
  • Career Planning
  • Learning and Training
  • Performance Management
  • Competency Management
  • Retention
  • Employee Engagement

Talent Management should concern itself with competencies. Companies should focus on the competencies that make a difference today and will continue to make a difference tomorrow. It means fitting the “right person” to the “right job” and then measuring their impact on the company’s strategy or goals.

In simplest of terms, Talent Management is people development associated with organizational effectiveness. Your middle management controls what employees stay and what employees leave. Your good employees will leave if you don't have a competent manager.

Most companies do not have a clue about what Talent Management means to them and what competencies will provide sustained growth and success. It is important that they focus on their Strategic Development plan now and don’t wait until it is too late. Too late that they do not have the people who are able to learn and perform the roles and responsibilities needed for sustained growth. Do we have the people that can respond to the rapidly changing, highly competitive marketplace?

Most companies have not yet assessed the talent within their organization. How can the learning and training components be applied when you don’t know what is needed to develop the people? People are starting to talk about succession planning only because a lot of key people are leaving the workforce for retirement or alternative careers. I joined a pharmaceutical company in the late sixties and within three weeks, the company has decided that I was a “High Potential”….an HP as we called it back then. A fast track of combined learning and training programs were laid out before me while at the same time, my performance was monitored as if I was under the microscope. It appears that many companies have strayed away from labeling “high potentials” and providing a program to accelerate their careers within the company. Now, I know many companies have accelerated programs and call these designated potential leaders something, like top producers, achievers, or whatever.

It just seems like the same old story. We have been concerned about this problem for many, many years but we have done nothing to provide a fully integrated set of human resource functions that can be called a people development process. We hesitate to assess anyone or anything because it will cause conflict and we can’t have conflict when we need to retain good talent.

Is Talent Management really meeting the needs of most companies? What are we waiting for? The leadership of our companies must step up and focus on a Strategic Development Plan that includes people, processes, and performance. The integration of those three entities often results in employee engagement, motivation, and success.

Human Resources in many companies is defined as the human capital experts. So, when are these so-called experts going to jump up and down and give their leadership team a real assessment of the culture, the people, and the potential to more forward while sustaining growth and reaching goals? It will probably be when all the talent has left.