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  • Tara Rethore

Want Smart People? Get People Smart

Yesterday’s results do not predict tomorrow’s performance. Actions taken today influence future results.

The same is true for people.


Having the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, and at the right time is always important. When your business is at an inflection point, it’s mission critical.


The executives I advise know that meeting this objective requires attention to each aspect of talent management – hiring, developing, and retaining people. They routinely structure their mid-year review conversations to allow time to look ahead. They ask and welcome future-focused questions to direct attention to what could be rather than solely, what was.


Four tips to get smart about people – and create people-smart talent:


1. Take people out of the equation.

Smart CEOs start with the organization rather than individuals. They identify the collective capabilities they’ll need to meet objectives, then design roles that best suit their strategic journey. By doing so, they directly connect talent and strategy, both to inform hiring, and to develop and redeploy current talent.


2. Focus on development.

Today’s market demands that executives retain talent. Development is another tool in an executive arsenal. Yet, it’s often overlooked, perhaps because development planning is seen as a value-draining activity. A good development plan is highly strategic and adds significant value, including talent retention. Learn how to avoid the fatal flaws in development planning here.


3. Take the pulse.

The best talent management practices won’t work if they fail to consider what staff want or need. As you review progress, take the opportunity to deepen your understanding of individuals and teams. Elevate the stay interview to be a regular feature of progress review conversations. It’s a proactive pulse check for today that prompts feed forward suggestions for tomorrow. While you’re at it, ask “What else?”, then pause to listen.


4. Invite perspective.

The faster the pace and higher the uncertainty, the easier it is to become consumed with managing day-to-day realities. Consequently, meaningful conversations about future talent often get lost. To avoid this trap, leverage the perspective and expertise of other stakeholders, including your Board, as I wrote here.


Rather than trading off the future in favor of solving today, use mid-year reviews to stimulate forward-thinking and build on the shared objective for the organization. Armed with this insight, create a path to build capabilities – and retain talent – that meets current and future business needs.


Bottom line: Take action today to develop the capabilities you need tomorrow. And, if you need smart people, start by getting smart about people.