Joanne Loce Headshot.jpg

You work hard to get to know what your customers want and how much they are willing to pay for it. You define the right strategies for your business’ future. However, when you look around at your team, you do not always have enough of the right talent to fully implement and lead your strategies. Businesses in every industry face this growing challenge, especially as your organizational chart has holes caused by Baby Boomers retiring in greater numbers, and Gen X’ers and Millennials not quite ready to step into senior roles. Please join Jeff Smith and his guest Joanne Loce, as they discuss demographic trends and their impact on succession planning and talent development in the workplace. Joanne is Managing Partner of Fortify Leadership Group and a leading expert on Talent Development who has hosted numerous conferences on this important topic. 


Joanne M. Loce, President of Loce Consulting, LLC and Managing Partner of Fortify Leadership Group is an executive coach, leader, consultant, and speaker with over 25 years of experience providing bottom-line business results through innovative human resources strategies and practical, people-related solutions. She provides customized services and solutions to organizations and leaders, including: leadership assessment and coaching; business strategy, human resources, talent management, and succession planning consulting; leadership development design and delivery; and coaching and consulting on culture transformation, change management, and storytelling. Her clients include global Fortune 500 companies from diverse industries, private-equity held firms, healthcare providers, and state government. She resides in Mechanicsville, Virginia, with her husband and four children.


Jeff: Welcome this is Jeff Smith with VoltCast Illuminating Leadership so glad you could be with us today. We have so appreciated all the notes and ideas that you've sent for the shows and one of the ideas was to really talk about talent management, succession planning that more on talent so I brought on my good friend Joanne Loce to come on the show today. Joanne how are you today?

Joanna: I'm doing great thanks Jeff. Thanks for having me back.

Jeff: Absolutely, yes this is a repeat offender for Joanne. Glad that she could fly the VoltCast a second time here and hopefully we’ll get her another time under her wings. For those that don't know Joanne, Joanne has got over 25 years of leadership and human resource experience. She's done amazing work in the space of leadership development, talent management, succession planning.

She has led conferences for the Conference Board where this has been the main topic. She works with Global 500 companies around the world helping them to grow and develop their talent. She is also the managing partner of Fortify Leadership Group. She and I are partnering together in that adventure and so not only do I am constantly amazed by her brilliance she even has to figure out how to coach me up and so Joanne today I am happy to say that I'll try to lead you for change. How about that?

Joanne you know this topic around sort of talent development, succession planning you know we've worked so hard. You and I do a lot of strategic planning all sites for our clients and you know we spent all of this time to try to make sure that we’re picking the right product and the right strategy and we get everything aligned. If we don't have the talent available that strategy doesn't really matter. I'm curious sort of what are you seeing in sort of the field of talent management, succession planning, you know you were talking to a lot of people about this. What are the trends that you're seeing in the marketplace right now?

Joanna: Yes, I mean obviously there's a whole lot of trends, but let me just start with the fact that you know I would say that while this topic area has been important in the past I think it's even more important now and the challenges that are facing organizations. You know a lot of those market forces that have to do with increased competition, speed of innovation, globalization, all of those things are really making it critical that organizations have you know the right I say people, but the competencies that the people in bed having those in the right place at the right time as you said to execute a strategy in really rapid way that's also customer friendly. Really thinking about how do we not only fulfill today's commitments, but then what are we going to do about tomorrow?

Jeff: One of the ones I'm seeing a lot is the struggle with getting folks into the sort of senior management positions. We're having I was on the phone yesterday with an executive recruiting firm and they’re starting to struggle a little bit defining the talents because you know some of the boomers are starting to step aside. Some of the next generation doesn't necessarily want to step forward. You know what type of trends are you seeing in that capacity?

Joanna: Yes, well I mean I think there's two components to this and you know we’ve talked about this a lot which is around ability versus willingness and I think you have both dynamics going on right now in the marketplace. One is around ability, which is you know do we have individuals who are adequately prepared to step into those broader more senior diverse you know experiences somewhat caused by the fact that we've had boomers some say hanging around in the workplace a bit longer than their predecessor generations. You know there was one around just do we have folks who are able to do it. Do they have the competencies?

Have they had the experiences, but to your point the second piece is what is the willingness? You know I would agree with you that I think that there is a growing trend for people to look at some of the rather daunting and very public and highly regulated depending on what industry you're in. Some people are just electing to say that that's not something that I really want to choose to do. I think that that's you know one of the impacts of our millennial generation starting to have on the workplace and in succession planning.

Jeff: You know the millennial generation isn’t quite ready for some of the senior positions. Some are. Certainly some advance quickly.

There is this sort of sense of I'm not sure that I want to dedicate all of that time and energy and have to be out in the forefront and have everything that I say be so measured in the social media world you know where every little thing that you say or don't say can suddenly blow up and be the trend. I have definitely seen some folks. You know I work with one person who was on slate to be a CEO and he took his name out of the ring. You know he's about my age, you know late 40s. He just said, “You know for the pressure that it would come from Wall Street and what it would do to the family and all of that I've got a good gig and I can see doing this what I'm doing the number two for three to five more years and I'm just not sure that I want to take that spot.” I think a previous generation he would've thought twice about it. You know it was truly was a I don't know if that even though qualified, capable and talented.

Joanna: Yes and I think that this is going to really drive organizations to be more creative about thinking through who are the right next group or the next slate of leaders rather than looking to just that next level of leadership. Really being creative around what industry or people coming from, what experiences that they had. How are they parlaying those into the profile book could be a successful senior leader and so it's going to take organizations and the leadership of those organizations to really expand their the way that they even think about how do they identify talent. Who are the right people to even look at and then how do you grow and develop them in a way that they’re ready to take on those roles when they become vacant.

Jeff: Yes, I agree so Joanna as you think about this you know when we’re talking about talent development what do you see is sort of going right around talent development. You know when you work with some organizations and you see it going right what types of things do you see there and then you know as we work through the show I'm sure we'll talk about some things that are not going right. Maybe we'll start with you know let's do ask based thinking today.

Joanna: Yes.

Jeff: You know when you see positive you know working with a really good organization what are some things that they are doing?

Joanna: Now some of this may be affirmation bias right because the individuals who tend to call us in are those who are probably already thinking about it.

Have a bias towards it, but you know that said I think some of the things that are going well is a real recognition that leadership takes more than just technical expertise. You know I always call it your technical signature so you know if you're in finance that's your technical signature. What I've seen is really organizations recognizing that leadership in any functional area and on an enterprise basis it really takes more than just those technical skills.

I’ve seen a really well—a more of what I’ll call a rounding out, more assessing of leaders to truly understand their motivations and what are their strengths and how do we leverage those and where are those areas that we need to mitigate risks as well as you know specifically you know how do we go about growing some of those you know what we’ve called for your—the softer skills, but you and I both know from an emotional intelligence perspective are really the critical factors for making a successful leader. Really the rounding out of leaders beyond technical is one of the big trends that I'm seeing.

Jeff: Yes, I agree Joanne. You know I think that it's you know we talk a lot about sort of this vertical development and horizontal development and I think in the past a lot of the succession planning and talent development discussion revolved around you know they've got to get better at delegation skills or maybe it's executive presence or its you know how do you control room or decision-making. What I have really seen in the past I don't know 3 to 5 years has been what we call that horizontal development and it's really about are you seeing the bigger picture. What are your opportunities? How do you see it from I know this person's point of view and there is skill development that like how do you work on your influence skills?

How do you get other points of view? It's broadening and so I love that your sort of technical signature. It's moving from technical signature. You'll still need that you know. That gets you the table, but now it's okay that's not enough though how do you get others to get buy-in? How do you get that influence across the organization and start to explore what's everyone else's mindset? You know I think that's an emerging trend as well is that hey expand that mindset and develop a new set of tools. It's almost a different worldview that you have to take on as you rise up through the ranks.

Joanna: Yes and you know to that end I would say that organizations are getting much more savvy. Those that are actually winning the war on talent are becoming much more savvy about understanding kind of what their talent story is for lack of a better word. You know we've called it in the past we've called it EVP or Employer Employment Branding and it's been called multiple things, but really what is the value proposition. What's the story?

If you come to work here what are you going to get in terms of leadership development? What are you going to get in terms of experience? Organizations that are really separating themselves I know we're not quite at that yet, but I would say that those that are really doing this well they understand their story. I don't talk about making this a fictional story, but they truly understand what is the value proposition and how can you be a part of that story. I think that's really what sets some organizations apart.

Jeff: You know what I'm curious about is what keeps people from doing it? Right so you know we may start that here and then continue after break, but you know why are? I mean it makes so much sense, but what's keeping them from having these conversations and actually engaging in the talent development succession planning today?

Joanna: Well I mean well let's start with I think the fact that there's a scarce resource of time and that leaders you know to me I think most leaders feel like they just kept us right because they have been at it for quite some time. I’ve risen through the ranks. I've been developed. I'm a natural developer of talent of course because of that. I think one of the biggest pieces is you know do we have enough time and or mind share to be able to dedicate ourselves to really having an integrated story and to apply resources to it in a way that's going to really make a business difference.

Jeff: Yes, speaking of scarcity of time you know I asked the question knowing that we would probably pick up on the other side so we’ve got Joanne Loce on all day today to talk about succession planning, talent development etcetera so when we pick up from the break we’ll also we’ll continue the conversation around what are some the reasons people aren’t doing succession planning and talent development. Stay with us and will be right back in two minutes.


Jeff: Welcome back I am here today with Joanne Loce, my managing partner from Fortify Leadership Group and close friend who is here to share her wisdom around talent development, succession planning, and what she's seeing the marketplace. Joanne just before the break we've been talking about why are people not doing this? You know and so the first one was the scarcity of time. What are some of the other reasons that people sort of shy way from working on talent development and or succession planning?

Joanna: I would say is just around what I would call legacy right and as we are you know retiring from the workplace we’ve dedicated a lot of time, energy, and commitment to make the organization successful. What gets triggered, which is in a lot of the literature is this kind of concept of legacy that what's going to live on beyond me. When we use that as a measure we’re sort of creating a standard of what success should look like usually in the eyes of the incumbent who is leaving the role. I would say this is particularly true in C suite positions so those of you are doing succession planning more deep in the organization may not run into it.

You know legacy can be one of those things that is really an enabler and I don't know about you Jeff, but when I’ve coached people around legacy and how you know this can be actually a really wonderful way to perpetuate all the good that they've done and leave their thumb print on it you know I think it's a great conversation, but it really takes having the conversation. People don't even realize that they're doing it. I don't know if you find this the same thing.

Jeff: Yes, absolutely you know it was kind of interesting this morning I coached someone this morning who is probably 63-64 still wants to go two or three more years, but he at the end of the coaching session said, “Hey you know is there anything I can be doing to help you?” A that a great question to ask you know, folks that you're working with, but you know he goes I really I'm not too hung up on my own growth right now. What I want to make sure it is that I'm leaving behind leaders that can take this organization for the next 100 years.

You know that’s someone that really has a sense for you know how to go about doing this. I watched him walk down the hall and people you know he's a bit like the Pied Piper. People just kind of follow him so he's really gotten there and I asked him about it. He says, “You know five or six years ago I wasn't ready for the conversation and I was still trying to climb the corporate ladder and worry about myself.” He goes, “I realized I really want to leave a legacy.” If you can have that conversation wow what a great thing, but not everyone is ready for the conversation. He wasn't ready for it at 56-57, but into his early 60s he was.

Joanna: One of the challenges I think around doing things like succession planning, talent management or talent development across an entire organization is that you know recognizing that you know moving people to other positions where they have not had a proven track record of success or you know coming up with some bold moves around the business based on some talent risks. These are all change issues so you know we're not going to talk about change management today. You know there's a whole dynamic around the elements of change and getting people through the change curve that apply not only to talent development because as I always say talent development is just a microcosm of organizational change. The same concepts apply, but it's really important to recognize that people need to get through that change curve as it relates to considering their legacy. This is really important when you're starting to talk about succession especially at the most senior levels of the organization.

Jeff: You and I have both worked in one organization where we've had the CEOs for over 20 years. The whole organization is sort of saying how do we deal with the legacy right. As they are going to get ready to welcome in a new CEO the I'm curious to see where the whole talent development goes for the organization as the new CEO may want a different set of skills sets and maybe more confrontational, maybe a more direct culture. It may be you know we need to move a little faster and maybe it's with more data.

As you consider sort of talent development also be thinking about what type of culture do we have and are the leaders that we’re developing mesh that culture and not just you know pure development, but are they going to work in our culture. I'm reading this book and I’ll allude to it a little bit later too its Radical Candor so again Radical Candor by Kim Scott and she was talking about she has worked in you know Apple and Google and studied Twitter and some other places. She talked about one person that she brought from her Google that was just fantastic and brought over to Apple and was unsuccessful because of just the difference types of leadership styles that were needed at two different cultures. The guy could still be a superstar, but not in that culture and so he went from this high steep growth trajectory to he really had to go to a more of a gradual and learn the culture before he could spring forward and be successful.

Joanna: You know this brings up another thing that I you know I would say what keeps us from starting and maybe blends into a little bit about what mistakes are being made is that you know there's a real fear of what if I get this wrong?

We tend to be risk-averse in making some of those talent moves and leaders tend to be risk-averse. There are some that you know break the mold of course, but many senior leaders are risk-averse as it relates to making talent moves or you know because they're afraid what if I get this wrong how is this going to be a reflection on me. Sometimes it's really genuinely about the other individual like what if I put this person in the role I've mentored him or her many years. What if they fail and so there is a lot of element of our own what I call fear is also a part of the kind of what keeps people from doing it.

The other piece of fear is like what if I tell them that I think that he or she is somebody who I consider high potential or on a path for succession. Then they don't do well and then I have to tell them that they're not. Maybe it's just easier if we do something in a black box, we don't talk to anybody. We try and do and all of this behind closed doors because we’re afraid of how we communicate, what that message will be and what the backlash might be if we make a mistake using air quotes around make a mistake because obviously everyone can you know can continue to grow and develop even if it doesn't meet with great business results success. Individual development can still occur and it often does in those times of not hitting business success. I mean that's another piece that I would say is not necessarily spoken aloud, but my guess is you've run into that in the boardroom as well.

Jeff: Yes you know I think it goes through the whole organization to your point. Sometimes people want to hoard talent so you know they why would I want to share? You know I'm doing well. If I let somebody go holy cow so I would say watch for that leaders you know that that person that you might hoard is being called by headhunter. If they're not getting the chance to develop and no one you know if you're not giving them a chance to move forward the executive recruiter knows talent and they find them and next day they’re down the street.

You've lost out on great talent and not only great talent takes great talent with them right. I think that's part of it. Then I think your point it is you know I think one of the things that you're alluding to is folks don't feel like they have the skill set to do some of this. Like I don't know if I could have the right kind of a conversation and can I really coach up a person that I didn't choose to be in the high potential and so sort of your point they kind of do just the mediocre and they tell everyone they’re doing a good job and they occasionally throw a bone into their best person instead of being playful, intentional, and knowing hey there are going to be some hard conversations, but I'd rather have one or two hard conversations, but make sure that I'm also celebrating the people that are emerging at that mid-level and upper-level management so that we have the talent that we need for the next five years.

Joanna: I agree.

Jeff: Joanne is more direct than I am. I have struggled at times in my career especially earlier about being blunt and just telling people where they were. Once I got better at that sort of in the last five to seven years I can just say that they have come and thanked me and wanted to work on their skill sets and what they needed to develop. I would just counter that that’s just not been my experience. They might be disappointed. They might be frustrated for a couple weeks, but they come back and knowing where they stand they can actually seek out feedback and might be a future star based on the feedback that you had the courage to share with them.

Joanna: Well and we’re not I know diving necessarily into all of the generational issues, but when we start to superimpose some of the more generational norms that we find in late Gen X-ers and we’ll see in Gen Y, the millennial generation and then into the next Gen or Gen Z is you know the mobility factor is much higher and someone else will always been more transparent so it's going to be I guess what I would say a continuing and evolving discussion that people just get more comfortable with having that very direct conversation. You know this is what I would say and how the talent is moving around the marketplace in a different way is it might be the right move Jeff for somebody to lead your organization and go develop somewhere else and come back because there's a lot of boomeranging that's going around in the marketplace as well. It's a little bit of a longer-term view and taking that longer-term view as you think about career and talent development. That's really non-traditional and really not the norm for many of the leaders who are doing succession planning.

Jeff: I think that leads to some of the mistakes and we’ll probably pick up a little bit after the break on you know how do we go about putting in the best practices, but I do think that one of the mistakes is not letting somebody go and then holding it against them. You know one of my organizations that I worked for previously if you've left and as soon as you were gone you lost all benefits even if you're gone only 30 days it just didn't work out you had to start from scratch. I was just like that's crazy you know sometimes people just need to go and see that it's not so great on the other side.

Sometimes to your point you know they were up against a spot in the organization where they couldn't grow and develop for the next couple of years very well and for them to go get some experience and welcome back two years later you know and keep in touch with them oh it was just great. I would say you know our organizations are going to get flatter and more and more will be working in partnership. Letting them go could be the absolute right thing, but doing it with grace and staying in contact with people can really be one of the things that sets you apart as a talent developer.

Joanna: Yes and this is why it's important to not really think about talent development as only focusing on your high potentials.

You know the rising tide lifts all boats is one of those sayings, which is important that you are thinking about how am I you know kind of readying all of the talent in the organization to take on larger responsibilities, broader responsibilities, things outside of their functional area if that's appropriate and if you're continuing to think about that anymore broad way, thinking across the spectrum. Then because here is what the reason why I bring this up Jeff is often what happens is I don't want to have a tough conversation because if Jeff leaves I'm in a hill of beans of problems right like what am I going to do and so it's really incumbent upon people to never have a single point of failure as my friend Sue at Six Sigma would say right. It's really important that we’re not having just a talent that is the only person who could do things. We need to be thinking more broadly about how do we create a broader, contrary competent individuals meaning those who have the capabilities, those who have the skills and experiences who can take on those larger roles, broader roles in the organization.

Jeff: Joanna brilliant and I can say is that your friends from Long Island where you grew up are going to be giving you a hard time after this in the show saying, “You said hill of beans.” They’re like; “She's been in Virginia for a while now that this Long Island New Yorker said hill of beans.”

Joanna: Hill of beans I did. I did.

Jeff: I think that you know we’re coming up against a break here so a couple of thoughts to think about from this segment is time will always be a challenge. Having hard conversations will always be a challenge. Talking about your legacy, knowing that maybe you're placing yourself, those things are always going to be there, but in today's world are you have to have be transparent. You have to be willing and step up and have the courage to have these conversations if you don't someone in another organization will and they will be that transparent and you will start to lose the war on talent. That's our thoughts for the moment. We’ll start talking about how do we implement some best practices on the other side of break.


Jeff: Welcome back I’ve got Joanne Loce on today. Joanne and I are talking about talent development, succession planning, and all the best practices so Joanne just before the break here we were you know I think doing a nice job as far as saying some of the things that we see not go so great. I'm sure some of the people are like okay where do I start like maybe my organization is doing this. Maybe they're not doing it well or maybe they haven't touched it all. You know where would you have a start and you know what are some of the best practices maybe that you see in really well-functioning organizations around talent development.

Joanna: Yes, well so this is I was going to say it depends a little bit in terms of where you are in terms of your evolution leaders. Let's just assume that you have leaders that are really already bought into this concept like we should be doing this and you know we need to come up with a way to do this because it's important for the organization. I recognize there are some people that are working with leaders who don't even know where to get started. Let's at least start though with people who believe that this is the right process. Is that okay to start there?

Jeff: Yes, absolutely.

Joanna: Let’s talk about the importance of using a process by which to identify and make investment decisions and linking that to the business strategy. I'm not going to talk about mistakes, but one of the things that doesn’t start well is when you start with this being an HR process. You need to really anchor this in the fact that in order for us to hit our business strategy, to achieve those goals, you know to operate more, better customer service, whatever those business benchmarks are and you started the show Jeff by talking about you know we spent a lot of time on those business pieces and then we turn to you know the talent. It's like we're having a completely different discussion.

What I would say is the best place to start is the business strategy. Drawing it directly to link it to between for us to achieve the business strategy we either need specific you know competencies, capabilities and experiences of done certain things. That's where you start to get business leaders who are maybe not 100% inclined to understand you know to go to through this process, really starting to understand like oh I get this. That's the first place that I start is always starting with the business strategy. Then talking about the fact that we need a consistent process because no CFO would go to a CEO and say we need certain financing to make our business strategy.

I'm just going to go out on the street and just try and pick it up any old way. They're going to come with the way that they keep you know that they secure funding that they are monitoring funding, that they’re accounting for that right. We need to kind of have that same level of discipline around the human capital aspect and how we think about talent. That's the first place that I would start and I'm not sure if that's where you would also start, but that's where I like to start.

Jeff: You know I think it's good. It's and I'll just let you know you're buzzing in and out a couple times so if it continues I'll let you know and I'll continue on and we’ll re-get you on the line, but it seemed to be working okay towards the second half of that so.

I think one of the words that you use a lot is who is your sponsor? I really like that and there is nothing against HR being able to help partner and to manage the process. This needs to be business and every quarter as you allude to when you're talking about financials we should also be talking about the talent and where's the talent? What's the next big priority?

As we get to you know sort of talking about some of these others I see too often where this is sort of we come in once a year. We do the talent review and then we go way. Having a business sponsor that you know this is just as important as what the CFO reports out, what the operations person reports out and being able to have the conversation when it has worked well is when it's one of the business sponsors. Often someone that's maybe in charge of the big part of the operations when they own it and they drive it I'm amazed at the conversations that happen as well as our ability to share the talent. It's a bit of an old quote now, but you know I really enjoyed you know Jack Welsh saying you know, “The top 200 people you know guys rent them. I own them.” You know, but I love that mindset of hey the top talent here, we should really be talking about where do we move the top talent and that is a great example of sponsorship to me.

Joanna: Yes the one way of seeing this practically roll out in one of my clients Jeff is that the leadership actually identified what they called critical roles. Those roles were the positions and it wasn't always the same position in every division, but those were the positions that the leader said these are the most critical positions. They are the incumbents need to have some of the most critical skill sets in order for us to achieve our business strategy. By starting with the critical roles rather than talking about the people you have to center on the business and achieving the business goals.

When you're having this conversation one of the things that can happen is we get too wrapped up in the events as you said. Like we do a talent review and then we may be revisit it next year and so the process has to be an ongoing you know information sharing about how people are progressing. What resources do we need to dedicate to their development and don't mistake having a talent process or a succession planning process with any tool. A tool can help us to identify individuals. The actual real kind of momentum that we get in talent management or talent development and building people for succession roles comes from the output of that process.

Jeff: Interesting anything else you know that around the you know what you would start with you know so I’ve heard about you know make sure it's a strategy. It's a sponsorship. You know I think there's been the some make sure that there's consistency in your process. You've got to stick with it. It can't just be a one-time event you know and put it on the calendar. Anything else you'd recommend or maybe what's the first thing you would do to have us get started.

Joanna: The other thing that I would say around this and having done you know a lot of work with different organizations, hearing lots of organizations report out on their processes, this is completely and utterly an organizational cultural decision. I don't think that's there's any one right answer and you know even when you're transparent it's not that you're telling them everything. I think what you really need to think through as you decide what is the level of transparency that we should have in this organization is one. Are we willing to back up what we say?

I think you have high potential, someone who can fill in a successor role, really committed to investing yourself, these are resources to show that that I think you’re worth the investment. If you don't think that your organization and or you or certain leaders can do that, that's really where I would say think about how transparent you want to be, because if you're making a commitment or telling someone they’re special and they're not spending an awful lot of time, money, or energy on them I think that that’s going to be a big issue in terms of transparency. The second is you know I'm not always a fan for scripting leaders, but what I would say is come up with some common key talking points that every leader can have about what they should be sharing and maybe what they shouldn't be sharing for example because your identified as a high potential or a successor or potential successor you know this doesn't like a talking point might say this doesn't guarantee you a promotion or a role. It means that we are willing to invest in you because we believe that you’re someone we should be looking at for those roles. You see the distinction and it's really important that organizations get these talk points down because when we have different managers say different things to people let's just be clear high potentials know who other high potentials are and they talk. We need to have some consistent messaging across the board.

Jeff: I've seen it done both ways where we tell people, we don't tell people right, but being consistent and being intentional and honoring that I think the biggest mistake you know along those lines I've seen is where some left the room and they go and tell people and some have not you know and then it becomes a real problem of like why didn't you tell me. Then you know some of those folks are like well I just have a special relationship with this person.

No, we’re either in or out. You know so being consistent and don't leave the room until you've agreed on what we’re saying. I will say that most of my organizations these days tend to tell people that they are high potential for the retention factor and that does strike that conversation of the person that wasn't identified as high potential come in and asking you why wasn't I. That can lead to a great conversation about well let me tell you some of the things that we haven't seen yet and here's what we considered.

Let's put together the development plan to put you on path for a high potential. I can't guarantee it and yes, but you will occasionally have that person that doesn't make as a high potential and that's a really hard conversation to say, “Hey you know we've assessed you for the last year, year and a half and you still have growth potential. We’re just not saying that it's high potential at the moment.” Having that conversation is hard, but equally powerful. I've seen people come back from being high potentials and stop being high potentials to getting promoted. You know so you it's not a death sentence to be an unsuccessful high potential, but again back to your point it needs to be an ongoing conversation. It should be a consistent message that's going to the people and making sure that you practice that conversation once or twice before you get in the room.

Joanna: Yes, I agree with that. That's important too is being prepared.

Jeff: Yes, so you know what's if you had only you know one piece of advice to give you know to say how do I get started you know what would you tell people?

Joanna: I would start with the business strategy and truly becoming versed in terms of what the business strategy will take to best align talent and then really endorse a senior sponsor to run and come up with a very consistent process. When I say consistent I mean you know it doesn't have to be so regimented, but what I would also say is simple. Don't over orchestrate your process. It should align with your organization's culture. You know if you’re really spending a lot of intricate time doing your business strategy you should be harvesting the information from the strategic planning process and using that to inform your talent process so that you're not doing the same process twice about understanding talent. Integrate it as much as possible into the business strategy.

Jeff: Great stuff Joanne. We’re up against a break so let's take a break here and we’ll come back in two minutes and give you some final tips and tools as we go out the door.


Jeff: Welcome back and thanks for being here today. I'm with Joanne Loce. We’re going to wrap up the conversation today around talent development and succession planning and Joanne one of the questions that we got was you know good conversation you know I think I've got some ideas where to start, but if I want some more information about you know this talent development, succession planning could you give us a resource or two.

Joanna: One of the very prominent books that relates to succession planning and thinking about talent development is The Leadership Pipeline by Ram Charan. I think that is one that I always recommend that you at least breeze through. It's the core principles. It's really the fundamentals around this concept of when we are building talent we’re not just thinking about today. We’re building a pipeline of not only future leaders, but future subject matter experts as well and so how do we go about doing that? That would be one that I would just that you know immediately comes to mind as it relates to how do we start thinking about development across the various career stages.

Jeff: One of the ones that I have enjoyed is not dated per say, it was I think it's still very applicable to today. It comes from the center for creative leadership and it's people trends and leadership development and it’s a 2011 article by Nick Petrie, P-E-T-R-I-E and what I enjoyed about this Joanne was it's I thought it did a really nice job of sort of explaining the difference between horizontal development and vertical development. While we need how to care about both as we’re thinking about our talent and developing them over the years.

You know a lot of things we’ve been saying, “Hey this can't just be an HR function. How do we admit it? How do we make time?” Again that's future trends and leadership development by a CCO. Joanne you know anything else that you are sort of looking at and saying you know I really wanted the listener to know this as they sort of embark or continue on this journey.

Joanna: Yes I mean beyond what I've shared already.

The one piece around succession planning that I think makes it more of an art form than a science because I think it's both a science and an art is that you know part of our role often as human resources professionals or talent management leaders is that we get to steward a process you know by truly people can be seen in the new and different light. You know when we start to think about potential, what's possible is you know greatly influenced by how we guide the conversation. We spoke earlier about the changing dynamics of the workplace in terms of talent development and what we’ll see as we go into not only the millennial generation, but Gen Z who are beginning to enter the workforce and how they go about developing their careers.

What do I need to be in ensuring that we’re not only prepared for today, but for tomorrow as well. How do we best understand and anticipate those challenges in the future? It's against a little bit more of a crystal ball exercise, but not really. I think if you really think about the business strategy and if you can project out what markets are going to be or at least what we think they can be for the next few years we should be able to do so with talent as well.

Jeff: Yes and you know I feel for some of the leaders on the phone too like you know we—one of my clients is you know an organization that is working on automated driving for cars and trucks and things. You know and if I was in charge of the enterprise that you know boy you got me studying that or Ford or GM you got to be studying it. As I think that's part of it is there's going to be continuous sort of upheavals in the marketplace and you're not going to get it exactly right, but having the conversation and thinking about the skill sets of okay we may need less drivers in an organization, but we might need a whole lot more engineers and system programmers and so being able to have the conversation. Another one that I’ve got that again I alluded to earlier it's from this book Radical Candor by Kim Scott and instead of just thinking about potential it's also thinking about what is your growth trajectory.

Like is it steep? Is it gradual? You know Joanne and I both have had four kids. There have been some times where I can remember for Caroline for me you know I had a chance to get a promotion at Capital One when all I wanted at that point with you know two kids under you know two and half years old I just wanted sleep.

Luckily it wasn't a one-time conversation with my boss you know because when they first came to me. I'm like, “No I'm just not interested.” I wanted my trajectory at that point to be more gradual and steady and let me master my job because I'm not doing a great job of managing two kids at home. Six months later with sleep I was ready to get back on a steep trajectory so I think it's also saying understanding that not everyone needs to be on a steep trajectory, but the job is just one part of the life so going back and having that conversation and asking where your growth trajectory and where does this fit in to your whole life plans is an important conversation as well.

Joanna: Yes and I mean that speaks to the fact that if you have a process in that event.

You're going to be having those ongoing conversations and I think that's a great example of what could have been this missed right if it was just an event and not an ongoing conversation. You know the one other thing is that you know people often say to me I'm afraid that that if I have this conversation with someone who I consider a high potential talent that I'm going to build up expectations and that I'm going to let them down. What I would just again for those of you are leaders or those coaching leaders is that often we protect on to other people our career development and what we thought we should be wanting at a particular point in our career. We spoke earlier about this whole like are people really willing to take on those bigger positions. You know some people are just really content to have a really interesting and challenging job.

They're not necessarily looking to be promoted in the next year or two. Some are. It’s important I think to understand what the motivations are for each of the individuals that you identify in your organization. I encourage managers all of the time to understand the career goals of the people who work for you. What can you do to enable it, but you know the other part of this is don't necessarily project on to somebody else that if I have this conversation there's this big expectation waiting on the other side. It might be that they just want to really challenge to grow and develop and then in six months or over years they might have a different decision about what they want to do with their career.

Jeff: Joanne thank you. Thanks for being on the show. If you know Joanne is an outstanding speaker, facilitator, consultant, leads great conferences. You know if you're interested in finding Joanne. Check her out on FortifyLeadership.com. She is doing just some amazing work with companies all across the world from small to really large. We had a lot of examples, but Joanne has worked with small, medium, and large. Thanks for being here.

Joanna: Yes, thanks and you know if you do go to FortifyLeadershipGroup.com you’ll also see a full range of the different types of ways that we think about talent as well as some of the places that will be so I encourage you to take a look there. Thanks Jeff for having me on the program.

Jeff: Absolutely so next week this time I will be moving to our oldest daughter into Duke. Lee Hubert will be using hosting the show, Lee’s going to have a guest on and I look forward to listening in sort of post-show. Please jointly next week and in the meantime if you're trying to reach us throughout the course of the week you know feel free to shoot us an email, look us up.

We will be back I know over the next couple weeks we've got several authors coming on as well as Lee’s conversation next week. Thanks for being with us each and every week. If you want to reach out during the week please email me at Jeff@voltageleadership.com. You can also reach us at www.VoltageLeadership.com or at the FortifyLeadershipGroup.com so I appreciate you taking the time. Please feel free to send us an email during the week. It helps us to shape our show, some of the questions that you ask help us create the format for the show. In the meantime you know Joanne thanks for being with us and everyone else. Make it a great week and we’ll talk to you next week.