Being the ‘Chief People Officer’ for your business

Leaders in any business that has people should strive to become top class managers of talent, says Paul Tuck of Kingsley Marsh, specialists in Talent Management. Each leader should act as the ‘Chief People Officer’ for their business or function. To achieve this takes dedication, commitment and sustained practice. Where do you start? And how do you maintain your CPO agenda?  The key aspects of being a CPO have been distilled into ‘activities’ that need to be delivered at a consistently high level. We know that Top Class Managers of Talent:

Set clear performance expectations with their people and communicate their demands clearly, then ensure follow up to ensure that things are done. Building a culture of performance delivery is the foundation stone for attracting and retaining high performing talent.   Be prepared to differentiate between your people. Know who are A-players, B-players and C-players. Identify the top and bottom 10%. Then act according to that differentiation:

• Invest heavily in the A-players (consider fast track, development opportunities, motivate, recognise & reward)

• Grow and affirm the B-players (show appreciation, grow capabilities, help them to become A-players)   • Redeploy C players from key positions (help to improve, move to suitable jobs, counsel, or where appropriate exit).

They remember to make sure that they are objective and fair in the way that they undertake this activity – follow all the relevant regulations and procedures.

Surround yourself with talent. Ensure that the right people are in the key positions. They aim to have each key position occupied by a top performer, a high potential talent (an A-Player).

Make high calibre appointments. Promote A-players and selected B-players into the senior positions and have the A-players recruit other A-players in depth to create a pipe-line of talent down into the business. They identify and often appoint their own potential successor. The aim is to create a dynamic, successful environment in which talented people can thrive.

Set high standards for performance and behaviour. Top Class Managers of Talent do not tolerate mediocrity. They take decisive and appropriate action with C players. They address areas of under-performance and tackle persistent C-players, in order to make room for A-players.

Hold regular talent reviews with the management team to objectively evaluate and review their talent and to make decisions on the actions needed to help them be successful. They review succession options to make sure they have the number and quality of people needed for the continuity of success and the flexibility to adapt to future demands.

Share views with people in an open, objective and transparent way. They hold a discussion and are prepared to provide evidence to support their judgement. They use regular feedback and encourage their people to seek it.

Look beyond own area to understand the calibre of talent in other areas and in the market place. They have a means of calibrating the talent standard and a source of reinforcements when needed.

Actively spot the potential in people and develop them by helping them gain relevant experience through rotation, projects, assignments or cross business movement. They actively delegate tasks and responsibilities that help them to develop in specific areas, in a planned way towards an agreed outcome.

Create a written training, development and career plan with each individual. Top Class Talent Managers define clear outcomes with assigned responsibilities and time-frame. They evaluate the skills and competencies needed to undertake the current role successfully and look forward to ensure the skills keep pace with requirements. They make sure that a meaningful discussion takes place to ensure there is agreement and commitment to development. Then they follow-up to ensure the desired results are achieved.

Cultivate an external reputation for people development and promotion opportunities. They identify suitable positions in their area that could be used for developing high potentials (Flow-Through Positions) and use them to help high potentials flow though them.

Ensure the structure and the jobs are designed effectively in order to provide the right level of motivation for individuals and achievement for the business. Consider the fit of an individual to the job and look at ways to continually enrich jobs to retain motivation. They also keep an eye open for people who have been too long in one position and need to move or grow to remain fresh.

Create a high performance culture that values both achievement and behaviour. Apply metrics to demonstrate they take performance, productivity and talent development seriously. Motivate people to be successful, using a variety of relevant recognition techniques and (often non-financial) incentives and rewards.   That is all it takes!

No one said that it is easy to become a Chief People Officer – but it really is worth the effort!

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