Effective Talent Planning to Build a Great Team

February 28, 2019

In the February Round Table meetings, we discussed the topic of “Effective Talent Planning to Build a Great Team.”

As a reminder, our next event will be the annual Leadership Summit at the University Club of Grand Rapids on March 22, 2019 featuring Dave Kahle, President of Kahle Way Sales Systems. Dave will be speaking on the topic of “Overcoming the Overwhelm: The System is the Solution.” There will also be four additional speakers giving focused module presentations. Click here to learn more and to save your seat!

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Below are the notes from the February Round Table meetings.

Plymouth Round Table

Q1: What basic characteristics are required for a great team?

It is essential to populate your team with the trustworthy members that are also team players.  Truthfulness, ethical/moral consistency, open-mindedness/acceptance, impartiality, engagement/support, reliability, and loyalty are all important base personality characteristics to help build a great team.

Q2: Getting the right mix of talented individuals on a team is crucial to success.  How do you find, develop, and keep them in such an interconnected/distracting world?

Finding the right team members from a large selection of candidates is difficult.  It is therefore crucial to have a robust/thorough/efficient interviewing process.  Known candidates minimize the risk of hiring regrets and can speed the team development.

Engaged/dedicated/talented employees like challenge and growth.  Challenging talented employees and giving them the freedom/support to excel is critical to their happiness.  Collaboratively developing a strategic growth plan, and regularly reviewing the employee’s progress with them, demonstrates your commitment to them and cements their dedication to the company.         

Q3: How do you deal with individuals or groups that are not team players?

If an employee, or group of employees, exhibit behavior not conducive to the team’s success, it must be addressed quickly.  This doesn’t necessarily mean termination or other severe punishment, as there may be be unknown reasons for the problem.  It is important that leadership try to understand the root cause of the issue and work collaboratively to solve it.

In some instances though, the offending individual/group may not be motivated or able to solve the issue.  When this happens, if you’ve tried in good conscience to solve the issue but just aren’t getting the respect/cooperation of the individual or group, the problem needs to be swiftly eliminated.  The longer a negative situation is allowed to exist, the more toxic it becomes to the team and organization.

Q4: Given the choice between sound character (integrity) and raw talent, which is most important for a great team?

Everyone agrees that sound character (integrity) must be chosen over raw talent, if a situation comes to that decision point.  Gifted (talented) individuals are sometimes not team players and don’t play well with others, creating a toxic situation within the team.  You stand a better chance of training a solid team player and growing their talent level, than trying to change the toxic behavior of a gifted loner.

Several examples were discussed by the group pertaining to this subject:

  1. A gifted employee was not a good team player and was a long-term difficult employee in general to deal with. A new V.P. was brought into the department and immediately recognized the problem, which was exacerbated because previous V.P.’s refused to address the issue through normal communication or performance reviews.  The new V.P. tried to work with the individual to correct the situation, but the individual was unwilling to change.  The company was a large, international organization so the V.P. had options other than termination at his disposal.  Much to the relief of the V.P. and his team, the individual was transferred, with a demotion, to a new department within the company, with the hope that the individual would have an awakening and prosper in their new position.  The moral and performance of the team immediately improved.
  2. The Owner of a manufacturing company allowed a toxic situation to develop within his company because he put his trust in a long-term employee who was his Operations Manager. This individual had moved-up through the ranks and was a gifted tool and die maker who demonstrated basic shop leadership ability. After advancing to a management role, he refused to embrace new company agendas or to fairly enforce company employee manual policies.  Many poor decisions were made by the Operations Manager by not enforcing the employee manual policies on “gifted” employees, allowing them to blatantly violate rules of conduct and performance.  The Operations Manager himself did not follow the company policies, setting a bad example for all.  Unfortunately, this situation was allowed to fester for several years, creating a toxic environment throughout the company, affecting company morale, performance, and profitability.  Eventually the company Owner recognized the gravity of the situation and brought in a General Manager, who recognized the toxic culture within the company and addressed the situation.  Unfortunately, several key “gifted” employees, including the Operations Manager, refused to correct their behavior and had to be terminated.
  3. The V.P. of a division had an employee that that was well respected and a strong team player, but was underperforming in some areas when he took over the division. When the V.P. performed an honest employee review with this employee, they became very emotional.  The V.P. discovered that no previous supervisor to this employee had never honestly discussed these shortcomings with the employee and the employee was not even aware of them.  The employee felt that they were doing a good job all along.  The V.P. developed an improvement plan with this employee, thereby saving a good team member and demonstrating to the team that the company supports their work force.

Comments were made by the group regarding the following characterizations of how Jesus handled situations:

  1. Jesus was kind, but not always nice in how he handled situations.
  2. Jesus wasn’t fair in how he handled situations, but he was always just.

Bible Guidance Regarding Using Our Talent:

  • “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10 ESV
  • “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

Birmingham Round Table

Q1: What are the characteristics of desirable Talent?

  • Concern today that employees have sense of entitlement and arrogance beyond their ability.  Character is more important than skills.

Q2: Where can desirable Talent be found?

  • Find and select those that share the values of the company

Q3: What steps need to be taken? How?

  • Consider restoring the band with employees.
  • Cement a long term relationship with investment in their education and growth.

Q4: What can be done when talent doesn’t work out?

  • Ease them out as soon as possible.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)

Q1: What is an existing challenge in your organization?

  • Transition of leadership style from micromanagement to empowerment.
  • Management of volunteers.
  • Planning is Training.

Q2: What is the role of the customer/client in your talent planning?

  • Their needs and feedback help to define your business model.
  • This can include the danger of losing focus/growing too quickly.
  • Need to focus on your skills/expertise. When a customer’s needs are out of your skillset, bring in a partner/contractor to fulfill that need.
  • Talent planning includes your vendors/contractors.

Q3: How do you as a leader bring the staff, consultants, and vendors together into one plan? 

  • Understand what tools are at your disposal and how to best use them.
  • Be precise on what type of person you want in your company.
  • Emphasize character. Skills can be taught, character cannot. Your employees are the face of your company and how they present themselves can make or break your reputation.
  • Don’t stick to traditional interview questions. Ask strategic questions to understand their habits and character:
    • What does your typical work week look like?
    • What is a successful work week?
    • Do you use your phone as an alarm (this helps you to know how accessible they will be. Using a phone as an alarm means their phone is always on).
  • Other ways to assess character:
    • Don’t focus only on accomplishments/grades etc.
    • Review their social media pages.
    • Ask for positive and negative reference. No one is perfect. Even Jesus commissioned Peter who denied him three times.
  • Remember to hire the person, not the position.
  • Define your “attraction statement” or employer brand. This shows applicants who you are and what values you are looking for.
  • Leadership defines culture. They are constantly watched by those that they lead.
  • “Culture is what the leadership allows it to be.”
  • Communication is key.
  • Remember that everyone is working with themselves in mind. Lead people from within themselves. You can’t make them go where they don’t want to.
  • Book: Ideal Team Player

Join us for our March Round Tables as we discuss “Overcoming the Overwhelm in Business & in Life.” RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org.