What You Measure Matters

Over the last few weeks we have delved into the burgeoning area of transformation:

1. Transformation is about how we respond

2. Transform your organisation

3. A call to transform

4. Three accelerators of transformation

5. Taking transformation out of the closet

To enable your organization to transform, we have to equip our employees for the change. And more importantly reward those revolutionaries that do. In contrast, we tend to want or even expect the development work to already be done when someone enters our employment. Why then would we reward people who focus on developing talent? We wouldn’t.

With expertise as a given, we focus on numbers and are rewarded for doing so. Just look at the metrics. Number of widgets sold: check. Number of clients or customers called: check. Number of people developed? None. Number of people poached? None. These metrics aren’t considered. Instinctively you know they should be, but you still ignore them. It’s no wonder we’re reluctant to reward managers for the development of resources that happen to be human.

If we are to embrace the power of transformation through carefully orchestrated jumps to new S curves, we’ll rethink the way we evaluate those who manage the take offs and landings. A simple start is to create metrics that reward talent spotters and developers. Jo Taylor, director of Let’s Talk Talent, a talent-management consultancy, stated: “Include talent development in senior managers’ performance review matrix, and tell them that a percentage of their bonus is going to be payable only if they’ve developed their people. You can measure that through 360 reviews from direct reports. Using those reviews, you can also quickly assess which individual managers are doing this kind of development, and focus on those who aren’t with additional training and resources.”

Lets’s Talk Talent also set a high target for internal mobility within the company: they wanted to see 60 percent of available roles filled internally. The company’s philosophy was that the business—not individual managers—owns the talent, which encouraged and incentivized managers to develop talented people and allow them to move into new roles internally. The stats from the beginning of Taylor’s tenure at Talk Talk compared with the numbers when she left her position suggest that talent development and internal mobility increase employee engagement: internal mobility increased from 35 percent to 50 percent; employee engagement increased from 56 percent to 76 percent; the company’s profitability was up from $1.30 to $3.00 a share.

Another way to figure out who is developing talent is to first analyze who is delivering results, getting promoted, and going on to interesting opportunities, and then ask those people who they work for. If past employees have been more likely to quit than jump to new curves, that’s a danger sign. Management thinker Dave Ulrich said it well: “Instead of asking a multi-millionaire how many millions they’ve earned, ask how many millionaires they have created.” For example, Lori Leibovich, editor in chief at Time Inc., has managed and developed several journalists who have gone on to land prestigious jobs in the field, including a writer at large for New York magazine and executive editor at Cosmopolitan, to name a few.

This is someone people want to work for. Who in your organization has a track record of apprenticing talent?

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