A great test of whether or not a leadership team has high trust is how they handle the movement of people across different departments. More often than not, shady dealings expose the true nature of the relationship, which is essentially collaboration when collaboration serves their individual purposes and then every man for himself when it doesn’t. I’m no expert on talent management, but I know a lot about how to create (and destroy) trust on a leadership team. I’m feeling frustrated by some of these destructive talent management shenanigans. I’m calling them out so that if you’re doing any of these, you can stop!
Do any of these make you a little sheepish?
- Underrating a strong performer to keep them off the corporate radar. Do you do this? It sucks for so many reasons. First, you are denying a talented person the recognition she has earned. Second, you are indirectly taking credit for things that she did. Third, you are depriving the organization of the chance to choose where this great person is most needed.
- Making excuses for why you NEED to keep a high performer. Sure, in the short-term, there might be an important project or a situation that needs continuity. But over the mid-term, it is awful that you hoard someone who the organization needs elsewhere. Not to mention that he might be ready for something new, something more than just making you look good.
- Promoting the suck up. It’s so painful to watch; you getting hoodwinked by the world’s best ingratiator. And then seeing legitimate, talented people get passed over because you want give your lap dog a bone. This is when the good people just up and quit. Open your eyes!
- Claiming that no one could possibly succeed you. How many times have I heard a boastful executive proudly proclaim that “no one on my team makes a suitable successor.” Guess what, that means you’re not doing your job! Stop kidding yourself, you’re replaceable. Now figure out who the candidates are and start providing the experiences that will prepare them for the role.
- Pushing your people to bring profile and influence to your group. When those nominations for the high potential program come around and you shove a mediocre player to the front of the line just to give your group a seat at the table, I see you! I hate to tell you, but the 60W bulb is not gonna’ shine too bright once he’s in with the 100W talent from the rest of your organization. Don’t kid yourself!
- Secretly recruiting from your colleague’s team. This is not the CIA people! There is no excuse for a covert mission to enlist someone at the expense of your colleagues. If there is a person, or a type of person that your team is desperate for, make it an open conversation. But be prepared to back up your need with some facts.
- Refusing to change your opinion of someone. When she worked for you, you never liked her (or was it that she never liked you?). Now that the former thorn in your side is thriving under a new leader, you’re damned if she’s going to get accolades. You’re digging in and sticking with your story. Wake up!
- Placating someone by giving them a lofty title. Aaaahhh! I am flabbergasted by the title inflation going on in organizations. Senior Director, Senior-er Director, Senior-est Director, Uber-Ultra Director! It doesn’t matter what crazy title you come up with, when you hand out a title because you can’t demonstrate that you value someone in a legitimate way (like by recognizing them, or paying them), you trigger a whole ridiculous “but he got…and I didn’t” “how come I’m not an AVP” avalanche of whining that buries everyone else.
Dastardly dealings in talent management at are the heart of so many trust issues on leadership teams. I’ve heard every excuse in the book and I’m not buying them. It’s time to be honest, fair, transparent, and selfless in the mobilization of talent in your organization. There’s no excuse for anything but.
Important acknowledgement: This post was improved by an awesomely talented person and it would be wrong of me not to give her credit. (See what I’m doing there?) Thanks to Dr. Seonaid Charlesworth for sharing your experiences of truly terrible talent treachery.