Connect Group CEO Jozef Opdeweegh’s Key Steps to Managing and Developing Talent

No matter how capable the leader or well conceived the corporate strategy, if the right talent is not in place to bring the corporate vision to fruition, business objectives and goals will go unmet.

As a long-term business executive and CEO, Jozef Opdeweegh is of the opinion that organizations should place significant importance on developing and implementing a standardized operating system to eliminate variation in execution of processes and procedures to reduce all forms of waste, such as redundant work, duplication of tasks, or idle time due to lack of task synchronization.

In the same fashion that operational processes and procedures are standardized, so should talent management and development capabilities. The performance and capability of the company’s human talent provides the best guarantee for excellent customer service, as well as for cost effective and efficient operations.

Opdeweegh suggests a best-in-class approach for designing a standardised and simple solution to performance management and the development of human potential that is embedded consistently across all of an organization’s operations and support functions. This suggested path will help enable:

  • The creation of a sustainable culture of performance and excellence;
  • The establishment of an objective and long-term view on talent and talent management;
  • The impartial identification of mission critical roles inside the organization;
  • The implementation of solid succession planning with the robust talent pipelines.

Measuring everyday performance

In many organizations, the performance management process consists of an annual, and sometimes mechanical conversation. This makes performance reviews a mandatory task, rather than an opportunity to help further develop the skillset of your colleague. To make performance reviews meaningful tools in development, consider changing the cadence and the style of these interactions: from annual or semi-annual to regular, even monthly; from formal to natural; and from obligatory to inspirational.

The process works best when the personal objectives are limited in number, and the performance ratings against those objectives are straightforward and transparent. For example, measure against three personal objectives with a three-layer rating system. These layers can be (1) “exceptional”, (2) “great” and (3) “opportunity to improve.” The overarching ambition is to apply a set of clean and transparent goals and related assessments to create an embedded culture of engagement and personal excellence.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, the individual’s objectives should gradually evolve throughout the year, based on the needs of the business and on his or her personal development. However, the ultimate goals should always be providing transparency and clarity around professional expectations. Frequent, informal and inspirational conversations around the performance culture, can become the “heartbeat” of the organization, illustrating both the value and criticalness of this approach.

Monitoring long-term consistency in performance

Once ongoing coaching and development is established, the next step is the assessment of the consistency and improvement in the performance of the individual over a multi-year period.

To get the most out of employees and to help them best develop, evaluation should focus on skills as well as on the individual’s adherence to the core behaviors intrinsic to your company culture. This perspective focuses just as much on how somebody performs as what he or she achieves — after all, what we are is as important as what we do.

In the mapping of long-term consistency of someone’s potential, its important be both simple and clear in the execution. The how (core behaviors) and the what (balanced scorecard objectives based on job description) should also be evaluated with a three-tiered rating: (1) “inconsistent”, (2) “consistent” and (3) “role model.”

The coworkers who are role models in both dimensions are your future leaders.

Identifying the Role Model

The organizational role model sits at the intersection of ability, agility, and aspiration, without ever compromising the core value set of the organization. He or she is capable, driven to succeed, customer centric, open minded, and creative. Quick and informed decision-making is a natural trait. Fairness governs every decision, every interaction. This (future) leader does not view change as a threat but challenges the status quo and embraces evolution. And finally, he or she possesses a healthy and balanced level of ambition, commitment, and mobility to reach the full, inherent potential.

To be a role model naturally requires a high level of emotional intelligence, resilience, and self-awareness. Rather than losing sleep at night, agonizing over the inevitable multivariate reality of business outcomes, this individual can separate the important from the trivial without falling victim to defeatism.

Talent mapping and succession planning

The product of the work described in the previous steps will now allow the organization to populate a talent map, separating those who sit on the band wagon (passengers) from those who truly and consistently contribute (core contributors), and those who still have untapped potential and will bloom in the not too distant future (developing talent) from the mature and developed talent (the role model).

At this point, one can now overlay the critical role grid of the company with the talent map. In this context, organizations must define the critical roles that help build a sustainably better business. Succession planning is the activity in which the organization identifies who will be able to fulfil these critical roles now or in the future. The talent map will describe who is in the right role now (“core contributor”) and who will be ready to step up immediately (“role model)”, in the next 18 month or beyond (“developing talent”). It will also allow for the identification of talent that may require further coaching (“passenger”) and sadly, after coaching, who may not be the right fit for the organization, either from a capability or core value perspective. The talent map should be a living document that is constantly populated by the results of the “heartbeat” conversations.

The steps described above are intended to appropriately serve every company’s main asset, its people. The suggested approach will minimize the chance that talented people remain anonymous and that their abilities and ambitions to help build a sustainably better business remain untapped. Furthermore, it will prevent the company from getting trapped in a situation where critical roles cannot be filled.  

Ask yourself, what is the purpose of surrounding yourself with talented people if you don’t put a mechanism in place to allow your talent to bloom and contribute?