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Redefine Your Leadership Hiring in 2019

Written By Ankur Tandon

Finding quality leadership talent is among the top and most critical challenges that organizations face these days. The significant factors in determining the sustained success and profitability of an organization are:

  • having a strong company leadership in place
  • ensuring that there is a talent pool ready to take up key roles in the future.

All the HRs, CHROs and other recruiters must go through these insights based out of our webinar on “Top Leadership Hiring Strategies Future-Ready Workplaces are Adopting in 2019” in context to the Leadership Hiring Trends Report 2019.

Here’s what we covered in this webinar:

  • Introduction, exploring the challenges faced and best leadership hiring practices
  • Building a leadership pipeline, developing future leaders and measuring the effectiveness of such training initiatives
  • Preparing for the leaders of tomorrow

In this webinar, we were joined by the industry as well as consulting sectors’ top leaders:

What is Leadership to an Organization?

Before we get to the thick of things of hiring leaders, tools used, and other aspects, it’s crucial to know the fundamentals. What is leadership all about and who is possibly the right leader?

The right person for the top job, one who is able to steer the organization in the right direction, the captain of the ship, and what not we say.  Good leadership is the magic behind successful organizations. While managers follow more of a metrics-driven approach to maximizing the productivity of the team, leadership is slightly different. It is more of an inspirational approach to motivate and guide people to grow.

Leadership is unique to any organization. Every company has its own definition, set of traits, and competencies when it comes to leadership talent. And all of it boils down to the DNA of that organization, culture-fitment, and specific techno-functional competencies. “And it’s not just HRs’ and CHROs’ responsibility, but for that matter, any business leaders’ to reflect what is leadership to their company” said Ajay.

How To Get the Right Leader?

Undoubtedly, the world is changing rapidly, and there are new and unique demands of leaders all the time. Majority of the CHROs go through immense pressure to fill up the leadership position as early as possible according to the business needs. Although leadership is vital in organizations of all sizes, it doesn’t indicate true leaders are easy to identify and onboard.

Surprisingly, as per our Leadership Hiring Trends Report 2019, 42% of organizations do not have a leadership competency framework to fall back on when hiring leaders.

When so much is changing, its time to come out from the same old mindset when it comes to recruiting leaders. Hiring leaders without any framework is like reaching to the destination without a map. For organizations that do have a universal competency framework, the focus should be on whether those frameworks get you the right leaders. So, the framework should not just be behavioral or trait-based in nature. Instead, it should be a balance of culture fitment, value fitment, and techno-functional competencies.

As per our survey, we found out that organizations that adopt competency frameworks for leadership hiring are 55% more likely to take lesser time to hire.

It’s a must for organizations to invest in creating their unique competency frameworks. Well, all is not lost if you don’t have one immediately. Some of the standardized tools built using cross-industry expertise account for critical leadership attributes like:

  • Leading change
  • Leading people
  • Drive for results
  • Aligning the organization’s strategy with vision

Many a time, leaders are hired basis subjective, non-standardized, and observational tactics instead of validation on those traits via focused assessments or certain tools. Niharika added here, “When multiple rounds of interviews happen for assessing leaders, it’s important that the interviewers should come together and discuss their observation about the candidature. Moreover, this should be revalidated through data coming in from multiple assessment tools at disposal.”

Observation versus data-based validation becomes the most important aspect while hiring leadership talent. We, at Mercer | Mettl with almost a decade of experience in the assessment industry incorporate tool-competency mapping where we actually try to map multiple assessment tools for assessing the same competency.

Are We Building Leadership Pipe Bottom-Up?

34% of organizations state ‘lack of internal leadership succession planning’ as the biggest challenge when it comes to filling a leadership vacancy.

Source- Leadership Hiring Trends 2019

It’s an alarming situation for organizations when they become clueless after losing their top leaders to attrition or competition. Although a way out is getting leaders from the market (lateral hiring) which of course takes a more extended period of time. This could be due to various constraints related to using tools, getting parameters right, or having multiple interviews.

For a fact, not everybody can take the top job. So, companies should future-proof their leadership positions that are key to the success of business objectives. To avoid long hiring lead time and to motivate the workforce, several businesses push towards succession planning.  “I’ve seen several businesses, where, apart from HRs, business leaders are worried about deciding the right person to fill in his/her position going forward” Ajay said. “Identifying high potential via tools/techniques and succession planning have been a practice in most of the MNCs.” he added.

The four key steps to Succession Planning are:

  1. Identify- Follow the scientifically validated approach to plan for the future
  2. Assess- Use reliable and valid tools to evaluate candidate readiness on key competencies
  3. Plan- Use customized reports to handpick the right candidates for succession
  4. Act- Develop and track the growth of selected candidates

Identifying high potentials is just the beginning of building a leadership pipeline. What comes next is grooming them or nurturing them up for the right position. So, the next question is what exactly companies are doing or should do to develop these talents.

What exactly are companies doing to develop talent?

“You can’t be placing all high potential within the same broad cluster, but on the basis of different roles and levels as well, be it mid-management or senior leadership. Each of these roles might have completely different developmental needs” said Anirban. It all starts with skill gap analysis followed by a leadership development plan which comes out on the basis of scientific and data-backed tools.

You might have multiple HiPos in the system, but all can’t be the leaders. Niharika added, “In our organization, we see what are the needs of that particular role and the development plan is based around those findings. This requires a lot of focused approach in terms of investing time and efforts.”

How are companies measuring the ROI of the incorporated training interventions?

Well, it’s tough for organizations to stand up and say that this is precisely the impact we’ve created via the training that we have provided.

“Coming to ROI, I haven’t seen too many organizations being able to commit that the programs that they presently have, benefits leaders the way it should. The reasons could be the inability to ask the right questions and to measure the right aspects.” says Ajay, who comes from consulting background to manufacturing, pharma and infrastructure industries.

Any competency framework that organizations are adopting should showcase a strong correlation to the performance.

- Anirban B Roy, CRO, Mercer | Mettl

There is a scientific process based on Kirk Patrick Model for measuring leadership competencies.

  • Identify the competencies where training is needed
  • Establish the pre-training benchmarks on the basis of these attributes
  • Check any shifts happening consistently post-training interventions

Read this to measure the effectiveness of your training program and to know the ROI of your efforts.

How Are We Preparing for Creating the Leaders of Tomorrow?

All we have discussed till now covers significant aspects in leadership hiring- how to hire effective leaders, shortage of internal succession pipeline, trying and hire from outside, the importance of competency frameworks, usage of validated tools and techniques, and measuring the effectiveness of the hiring process.

Apart from this, one crucial aspect, maybe a bit long term, is how are we getting leaders of today ready for tomorrow. Today, we see phase shifts as per the workings and evolution of businesses are concerned. A lot more discussion in the board rooms states the change in facets of leadership. A far more young, diverse, dispersed and empowered workforce is joining in.

Organizations should focus on the shift in demographics and digital empowerment of the workforce. “In fact, there is a new arena altogether which is clicking the minds of most of the HRs nowadays: Digital Leadership. And certain organizations incorporate courses in terms of gearing up their workforce in this aspect” Ajay added.

With an increase in focus on millennial workforce and diversity in the talent pool, the skill-structure existing today will possibly change in the near future. Companies should focus on doing pilots for building future-ready teams. They should gear up GenX and GenY leaders to take the new workforce upfront. The competencies basis which you’re hiring today may not be relevant tomorrow. So, it is a continuous and iterated benchmarking process of getting to the right set of competencies which remain relevant.

If you have created a competency framework, make sure you go ahead and check those against what should be the right competencies for driving performance. Doing this periodically, like twice a year would take you a step forward in making your organizations future-proof.

How Mercer | Mettl Helps

Based on job, seniority and organization-level, Mercer | Mettl provides a suite of tools to identify skill gaps and track results.

Topics: Leadership leadership development Recruitment Tips

Originally published May 23 2019,updated June 29 2019

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