- What are the major approaches to leadership development?
- What approach does Schoonover Associates take to leadership development?
- What is the difference between leadership and management?
- What are the major considerations for executing an effective leadership or executive development program?
- What are the best methods for optimizing organizational leadership?
- At what levels of an organization does leadership reside?
- Why should organizations build an integrated talent management system (versus a series of point solutions)?
- What are the main characteristics and success drivers of talent management systems?
- What are the benefits of talent management systems?
- What are the key factors to consider in designing a talent management system?
- What is a competency?
- How do competencies differ from skills and knowledge?
- What types of competencies are there?
- What are some of the limitations of competencies? What are they not?
- What’s the difference between an organizational and an individual competency, and between a competency and a best practice?
- What is a competency model?
- Why are competency models important?
- How are competency models developed?
- What competency models are available to Schoonover clients?
- Can competencies be tied to compensation (e.g., base pay or incentive pay)?
- What’s the difference between hiring and selection, and when is one better to use than the other?
- What are the best practices and requirements for an appropriate hiring process?
- What are typical cautions to heed in the hiring process?
- What are some best practices for hiring and selection interviewing?
- What are appropriate types of assessment and when are they used?
- How can competencies be used in a coaching/self-assessment process and tool?
- What is the role of coaching in the assessment process?
- What are some typical evaluation criteria used in performance management?
- What are the components of a performance management program?
- How robust should a performance management program be?
- How can organizations ensure fairness for all employees in an appraisal process?
- How does performance management work in a competency-based system?
- What types of goals are typically applied in the performance management process and how do they differ from other performance management criteria?
- What are the key determinants for making a goal management process successful?
- How can coaching improve the outcomes of goal management and measurement?
- What are best practices for individual development?
- What are the key factors that make development planning successful?
- What are the different types of development activities and how should they be applied?
- What’s the difference between career planning and life planning?
- Who owns an individual’s career plan and why?
- What part do changing life values play in career planning?
- What are typical enablers and derailers for career pathing?
- What can/should a company do to support career planning?
- What part do competencies play in career planning?
- What is succession planning?
- What factors or evaluation criteria are most frequently applied in succession plans?
- What’s the difference between “bench strength” and “pipeline”?
- How can organizations define and address the requirements of mission-critical positions?
- What is a backup chart and how can organizations manage to it?
- What is change management and how is it different from project management?
- How can organizations assess their readiness for change?
- How can change agents gain management commitment to support change?
- Are particular competencies required for change management?
- What are the typical factors that can make large-scale change initiatives fail?
- How can change agents determine the scope, scale, and pace of change an organization can absorb?
What are the major approaches to leadership development?
Theories of leadership are numerous and wide-ranging. At one end of the spectrum, the classic “Great Man Theory” [sic] posits that leaders are born and not made. The implication of this school of thought–that leadership is a trait or set of traits–is that organizations should focus on hiring and selection. At the other end of the spectrum are theories arguing that leadership is highly development oriented, which is to say people grow and cultivate leadership competencies or archetypes. Intermediate theories focus on the characteristics and processes that support leadership paths toward leadership goals.
What approach does Schoonover Associates take to leadership development?
Our view is that leadership is a complex system involving environmental factors, leader factors, and follower factors. Strongly espousing one point of view therefore is not predictive. We urge organizations to understand leadership holistically, not to be bound by constrictive mental models. it is also important to acknowledge and define boundary conditions that give clarity about what questions regarding leadership can be answered by the espoused theory and what the limitations are. For example, in psychoanalysis we find some dyadic theories in which leadership is defined as the overt and tacit agreement between people to let someone be in front–a predominantly relational model. That’s only one point of view; it yields certain data, but it has limitations.
For that reason, we introduce competencies into our Holistic Leadership Framework. We acknowledge that leaders may share some innate characteristics, but instinct is not enough to predict leadership effectiveness. in addition to traits we look at several other types of competencies (see discussion of competencies below), as well as dimensions of leadership effectiveness, which is often context-driven. We explore processes, methodologies for setting goals, enterprise strategy, etc., to understand and encompass the leadership system.
What are the major considerations for executing an effective leadership or executive development program?
The major considerations are a clear purpose; a match between the approach and the organization’s readiness; clear criteria; and a clear point of view. Competencies, processes, and structures are tools by which to set the boundary conditions for the point of view an organization is adopting toward leadership and executive development.
And, as with any change initiative, the processes need to be clear and the program needs vigorous, sustainable supports–like executive sponsorship, training, and well articulated and thought out communication plans.
We believe there are four levers to optimize expressed leadership behavior.
- Role-person fit, or making sure the right person is in the right job.
- Performance management, or motivating and energizing someone to optimize his or her performance in a circumscribed period according to predetermined competencies and goals.
- Ability and commitment to learn and grow, a longer-term process primarily accomplished through developmental experiences matched to a person’s needs, preferences, and aspirations.
- Recognition and rewards–not only monetary compensation, but also, depending on what the individual values, intrinsic and extrinsic rewards such as work-life balance, executive perks, and/or external recognition of status.
We believe leadership resides at all levels of an organization. Those leadership characteristics may look different and be expressed differently because of differences in scope, scale, time, responsibility, and accountability–as well as differences in career path–but it’s still leadership.
Why should organizations build an integrated talent management system (versus a series of point solutions)?
Research by us and by others shows that the more vertical alignment, the more integration, and the more potential for self-direction in a talent management system (for example, by being distributed through virtual communities, technology portals, etc.), the higher the organizational impact, including profitability and ROI.
What are the main characteristics and success drivers of talent management systems?
In practice, the most successful organizations develop a clear focus for talent management that includes specific purposes and boundaries. These elements can vary widely depending on organizational “readiness.” We advocate clarifying the level of cultural readiness through an assessment involving key stakeholders. This intervention can be done in various ways including focused interviews, focus groups, surveys, etc.
Next, to create a clear “blueprint” for action, we advocate outlining a specific mission and a set of “guiding principles.” These principles should serve as design criteria for the program so that it is not reactive, ad hoc, or unstructured.
After clarifying purposes and related goals, an organization should develop a “future-oriented” competency model that embodies the critical few characteristics required for success in various positions (see discussion of competencies below).
What are the benefits of talent management systems?
Especially in larger enterprises, high levels of coordination among various components of a talent management system can make a significant contribution to performance and employee trust, motivation, and morale–and improve hiring, retention, and goal alignment. Talent management systems contribute to implementing an organization’s business plans and help them face strategic and operational challenges by supporting, for example, the following.
- Human resource plans
- Human resource development plans
- Other organizational planning activities
- “Replacement needs” and the related training, employee education, and employee development
- Opportunities for advancement
- Creation of talent pools
- The ability to reflect the diversity of the population in the employee base
- Employees’ ability to respond to or anticipate changing environmental demands
- The ability to cope with the effects of voluntary and involuntary separation
What are the key factors to consider in designing a talent management system?
Three things should be factored into the design of any talent management system. High levels of alignment that clarify expectations from top to bottom of the organization support development of a clear line of sight for each person about his or her contribution. High levels of integration that link each element of the performance lifecycle together improve the employee’s, the manager’s, and HR’s ability to execute a coordinated talent management approach. In other words, using common standards (e.g., competencies) to create clear “feeds” from one talent management application to the next significantly improves organizational performance. High levels of distribution in the form of tools, training, technology, and supports for growing talent help make everyone accountable for the program and provide decentralized supports that better empower individuals and managers to make talent management interventions work.
What is a competency?
A competency is a behavior or set of behaviors that describes excellent performance in a particular work context (e.g., job, role or group of jobs, function, or whole organization). Organizations are applying these characteristics more and more because they provide significant help with key problems such as the following.
- Clarifying workforce standards and expectations.
- Aligning individuals, teams, and managers with the organization’s business strategies.
- Creating empowerment, accountability, and alignment of coach, team member, and employer in performance development.
- Developing equitable, focused appraisal and compensation decisions.
How do competencies differ from skills and knowledge?
Baseline skills and knowledge that help define the job are not usually included in competencies. Put another way, competencies are not job descriptions. Skills that are part of performance excellence, though, are generally included in competencies. Knowledge supports competencies, but the only knowledge included in competencies is that which is both a prerequisite for excellence and observable.
What types of competencies are there?
We recognize trait, core, leadership, management, functional, role, and job competencies. Competencies answer the question, What does a great performer look like in a particular context? The Schoonover models are built on the frameworks most organizations already have or most commonly request. Then, as new functional areas emerge, such as supply chain management; or new needs, such as developing a high-performance team culture or becoming an innovative company, we build upon the foundations already in place.
What are some of the limitations of competencies? What are they not?
Although they describe what great performance looks like in a particular context, competencies cannot diagnose the reasons for subpar performance. Someone could be ineffective due to a lack of motivation; or an inability to select, modulate, modify, and express competencies he or she may possess; or difficulty understanding and responding to diversity in context.
Another intentional limitation is that competencies do not deal with psychology, personality, temperament, spirituality, proxemics, body language, tone of voice, and the like. Such covert aspects of human experience are more appropriately handled informally in a coaching relationship.
What’s the difference between an organizational and an individual competency, and between a competency and a best practice?
The literature about organizational competencies pertains to total organizational capabilities–for example, Honda’s capability in motors, or another organization’s immutable ethical standards. Organizational strategy and process derive from these core competencies.
Best practices are shared by teams or groups charged with implementing some core capability or process. A team competency could be a best practice, like virtual teamwork, with an operational or even technical component, like six-sigma.
Individual competencies should allow for performance according to best practices and for alignment with organizational strategy and goals.
To some extent, then, there is a hierarchy from organizational capability to group or team best practices to individual competencies. However, the important distinction remains between capability and behavior–the latter being expressed exclusively by people.
What is a competency model?
A competency model is an aggregation of related competencies that includes behaviors, definitions, and other structures called “clusters” grouped in such a way as to be effective in a context. They may contain only one type of competency or a mixture. Because they are intended to be widely applicable, they should be easy to understand and use.
Why are competency models important?
Competency models are good utilities for driving talent management systems. By their concreteness they establish appropriate boundaries for translating soft data into hard data, implicit data into explicit data, and informal data into formal data.
How are competency models developed?
In the current environment, competency models are developed in three ways. First are the general, off-the-shelf models. The second type we call “rapid prototyping,” in which we take foundational materials that have already been established and validated and involve experts and stakeholders in more thorough validation. The third and most involved method is to do more formal study. This method typically uses available intellectual property, but a more rigorous process and sometimes benchmarking where radical change or transformation is involved. In such cases, an off-the-shelf model has the potential to create more distortion than advantage.
What competency models are available to Schoonover clients?
Schoonover Associates can provide its clients with trait-level, core, leadership, and management competencies, as well as competencies for virtually all functions, often including role and job competencies.
Can competencies be tied to compensation (e.g., base pay or incentive pay?
Yes. In general, competencies used for development purposes are not tied to compensation. When competencies are tied to compensation, it is typically to base pay, whereas goals more typically are tied to incentive pay.
What’s the difference between hiring and selection, and when is one better to use than the other?
Hiring is the practice of applying consistent criteria to bring people into an organization from the outside. Selection is the practice of moving employees from one position to another within an organization. The two may use similar or different criteria.
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What are the best practices and requirements for an appropriate hiring process?
There are general criteria for establishing fair and legally defensible criteria for selecting, maintaining, and even “de-selecting” individuals for various work settings. They fall into four basic categories.
- Established legal requirements
- Basic science requirements (e.g., reliability and validity)
- Work content requirements
- Assessment process requirements
In practice, any assessment used in a hiring and/or selection process should support three key qualities: efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance. Ensuring that these three attributes do not conflict with one another is a delicate balancing act.
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What are typical cautions to heed in the hiring process?
A major priority in developing a hiring or selection program is ensuring that the criteria and process applied are unbiased and fair for all candidates. While these qualities are critical behavioral science goals, they have also become part of various employment laws and regulations, which vary by (global) location. Other considerations include integrity of the data, data collection, hiring or selection criteria, and process; as well as rater bias.
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What are some best practices for hiring and selection interviewing?
The best available method for overcoming potential vulnerabilities in the interview process and for identifying specific behavioral criteria for excellence is a behaviorally anchored evaluation. This type of interview is based on a model that describes objective criteria of success for a specific job role. It helps interviewers perform the most significant part of the screening by using an objective scoring procedure. Design considerations include the following.
- Ensure elements included in the assessment are aligned with specific job/role requirements.
- Ensure the assessment process is clear and well supported for participants.
- Focus assessment items on requirements related to key work capabilities.
- Create assessment items that are not biased and discriminatory.
- Perform appropriate reliability and validity testing.
- Document the process, methods used to produce compliance to standards, and appropriate reliability and
- In hiring and selection, assessment is used to match candidates to roles.
- In succession planning, multiple high-potential employees may be assessed against particular roles or criteria
to help organizations make better decisions about development and talent.
- Self-assessments and managers’ assessments of individuals can be instrumental for coaching purposes and
- So-called 360-degree assessment or multirater assessment involves gathering feedback from multiple
perspectives–sometimes both internal and external. The scope of such assessments can range from whole employee
pools during a transition in leadership or strategy to one or a few key individuals as part of an executive
- Workforce assessments involve assessing employees against roles to identify workforce development issues.
How can competencies be used in a coaching/self-assessment process and tool?
Competencies can be formatted into a coaching/self-assessment tool that allows employees and/or managers to rate competencies for performance level and degree of importance, and to provide evidence (e.g., noting specific accomplishments or evidence of potential performance problems) to support their ratings.
What is the role of coaching in the assessment process?
One of the most important problems is that when the assessment is done it’s finished or the interpretation and debriefing of assessment completes the process. We believe that finishing the assessment is the start of the process and the role of coaching is threefold. The first is to translate assessment information into a development plan that fits the person’s needs, preferences, and business realities. The second is for the coach to set up an ongoing, reciprocal, trusting relationship wherein people can discuss and start on the path of a development plan and make midcourse corrections. Third, the execution of an informal extemporaneous long-term relationship has been shown to be the most important factor in completing development plans and in realizing behavior change.
What are some typical evaluation criteria used in performance management?
In general, organizations should use performance criteria that focus on what and how. Achievement of goals, or fulfillment of activity for less complex jobs, measure what an employee accomplished over the performance period. How the employee performed can be measured by competencies or criteria similar to competencies, such as technical requirements or other standards.
What are the components of a performance management program?
Criteria-based assessment, goals, competencies, and development plans are typical. Sometimes other components like promotability or potential, whether disclosed to the employee or not, are part of the program, as are career aspirations and preferences. Often performance evaluations entail a combination of data and narrative comments or suggestions.
How robust should a performance management program be?
When designing a performance management program, it is important to balance two considerations: keeping it streamlined enough to remained relevant and focused; yet robust enough to yield meaningful insights. Programs that are too robust run the risk of becoming unwieldy from the perspective of span of control.
How can organizations ensure fairness for all employees in an appraisal process?
Three practices can dramatically improve the fairness of the employee appraisal process. First, use and train for objectively defined elements or criteria, emphasizing the importance of behavioral data. Second, follow similar process and quality standards across all groups. Third, conduct calibration meetings mediated by HR, along with one-on-one interviews.
How does performance management work in a competency-based system?
Ideally performance management is positioned as a process comprising steps that include planning, managing, evaluating, and rewarding performance. It is an ongoing process, of which competencies are the engine, that aligns and integrates the objectives of the organization, business units, teams, and individuals.
What types of goals are typically applied in the performance management process and how do they differ from other performance management criteria?
We encounter various approaches to goal management. One of the most popular remains the Balanced Scorecard, which espouses setting goals related to people, process, finance, and customers. Whatever the approach, the goals for individuals should fall into relevant categories that managers can align to or achieve a clear line of sight with the business strategy.
- Strategic alignment: a focus on the “critical few” strategic levers for performance; an approach to cascading that applies a consistent process for focusing managers’ priorities; and refined interdependencies (i.e., cross-team synergies and conflicts).
- Goal quality orientation: criteria for key goals that encompass the types of measures that most accurately define desired outcomes; that include the right level of a value chain or process–beginning, middle, end (focus and coverage); and that are practical and easy to measure and track.
- Implementation process excellence: personalized goals tailored to the individual; collaborative goal creation and commitment with the individual; a “contract” for goal management between managers and direct reports; and a dynamic process of tracking, refining, and updating goals over time, rather than a static, once-and-done exercise.
- Collaborative coaching: fully communicated goals and the reasons for focusing on them; a shared stake, between manager and individual, in the fulfillment of goals; and open, ongoing feedback to support goal refinement and revisions in response to changing demands or strategies.
Organizations that apply these principles consistently enjoy better overall performance by more engaged, motivated, and empowered managers and employees than those that do not.
How can coaching improve the outcomes of goal management and measurement?
Coaching for performance management and for goal management and measurement are two sides of same coin. Also make sure when you coach behaviors link it to a business outcome and similarly when coaching goals, don’t just tell them how to achieve goals better but tell them how to behave differently to achieve goals. So trust empathy process criteria; but also the person has to be able to do something differently, tell them how to put into action.
What are best practices for individual development?
It is important for individuals to view their own development as a continuous improvement process, preferably one that is grounded in competencies. Most personal change initiatives fail because of a lack of follow through. To succeed, individuals should do the following.
- Keep focused on one or two targeted improvement areas.
- Select development areas that complement both organizational needs and individual preferences.
- Clarify what excellent performance looks like in action (e.g., discuss excellent performance with manager/coach/team members; identify models to emulate).
- Arrange for frequent behavior practice.
- Solicit frequent feedback.
- Revise and update improvement strategies.
- Track progress by reviewing objective evidence for improvement/continuing development need.
What are the key factors that make development planning successful?
Successful development planning requires a process that starts with a clear fair assessment; structure; or development planning template, criteria or steps. The best examples exhibit a highly supported process, include coaching, allow for midcourse corrections, and are designed to have an impact or outcome relevant to both the business and the individual.
What are the different types of development activities and how should they be applied?
Development activities are sufficiently varied that it is possible to create a set of offerings so that managers can select different options depending on the desired impact or outcome.
- At one end of the spectrum are self-study options, which are easy to complete and highly accessible, although they may have little long-term impact.
- Some development activities can be done on the job as part of the work day. Though accessible, this form of development activity has only low to moderate impact.
- Developmental experiences are special assignments or projects, or sometimes new jobs or projects. Particularly if they are defined well, they can have a very high impact. However, they also require resources, perhaps not money but certainly support and coaching time and even organizational sponsorship.
- Courseware is another form of development activity. The tradeoffs include the investment in time and money with a perhaps only moderate impact, either in scope or duration (for example, the initiation of the development of a strategic competency).
What’s the difference between career planning and life planning?
Career planning involves applying focused criteria and a process to the question of what a person wants to do with his or her work. Life planning applies a similar discipline to the question of what a person wants to do with his or her whole life, of which career is only a part.
Who owns an individual’s career plan and why?
While it’s in an organization’s best interest to support career planning, ultimately it’s the individual’s responsibility because the criteria typically extend beyond the organization’s purview.
What part do changing life values play in career planning?
Values change throughout the lifespan. With them, needs, preferences, and expected outcomes change too. That is, changing values drive changing goals and targets. For that reason, people need to revisit their career goals and plans from time to time.
What are typical enablers and derailers for career pathing?
Enablers for career pathing include role models and supports, clear criteria, a destination and a purpose, and access to resources. Moreover, people contemplating their careers need to have their basic needs met so that they have the freedom to look at the big picture, not just immediate employment. Factors that can derail career planning include an insufficient network, a disempowered work environment, no plan, no sense of the future, health or personal problems, and the like.
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What can/should a company do to support career planning?
Employers can provide such supports as clear criteria, mentors and coaches, clarity and enrichment through developmental activities, career roadmaps or assignments, and training. How often should someone review career and life plans? It’s important to review career and life plans relatively frequently–at least once a year.
What part do competencies play in career planning?
Competencies are one of a critical few sets of criteria that should drive career planning because they reveal what makes someone successful in his or her current job or what is likely to that person successful in a future targeted job. Competencies provide a link to success at work, current or future.
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What is succession planning?
Succession planning is best described as a consistent set of specific procedures to ensure the identification, development, and long-term retention of talented individuals. While this general definition works well, organizations view succession planning widely varying ways. For some, it simply means making sure there are replacement candidates for key positions; for others with a more comprehensive perspective, succession planning represents a deliberate and systematic effort by an organization to do the following.
- Ensure leadership continuity in key positions.
- Retain and develop intellectual and knowledge capital within key employees for the future.
- Encourage individual advancement
- Ensure the stability of “bench strength” of key personnel.
- Provide an overarching approach to continue effective performance of an organization, division, department, and workgroups.
- Organize a concerted program for the development, replacement, and strategic application of key people to ensure a deep talent pipeline.
While the general definition of succession planning is well established, organizations vary widely in their philosophy, planning and execution. In the most basic sense a successful program should align talent management with an organization’s culture, vision and strategies. However, other factors such as changing workforce demographics, changing markets and competitors, various stakeholder interests, the life stage and size of the organization, and the level of maturity of the leadership team all should be considered too in designing a high-impact process.
What factors or evaluation criteria are most frequently applied in succession planning?
At a practical level, we have found that the criteria applied in succession planning should be multi-dimensional, simple to assess, and linked to “future” success. Frequently, we help companies develop customized success factors of the following types.
- Critical Competencies. Behavioral criteria linked to successful performance of a key role.
- Key Experiences. Specific work settings, assignments, or accomplishments required for growth and credibility of leaders across the career span.
- Results. Objective performance outcomes of negotiated goals and/or specific contributions to the team or organization.
What’s the difference between “bench strength” and “pipeline”?
Bench strength (a term that originated in sports) is a quantitative measure: how many people an organization has with whom to replace people in key positions.
Pipeline is a measure of quality and depth: the nature of people an organization has in potential leadership positions and how deep into the organization they can be found. It too has an analogy to sports: in baseball, it would be called the “farm system.”
How can organizations define and address the requirements of mission-critical positions?
To anticipate talent needs in mission-critical positions, organizations should develop criteria that go beyond general performance excellence or competency capabilities to include vulnerabilities in the supply of critical skills or perspectives that could put an enterprise at risk in the future. For example, diversity programs can help reduce an organization’s exposure to the adverse consequences of having too few people in one or more protected groups (which, in the United States, could include “disparate impact” laws). Other potential risks are diminished strategic capability in critical areas; and inability to adapt to rapidly changing technology.
What is a backup chart and how can organizations manage to it?
In succession planning, a backup chart is a tool or picture that can show both bench strength and pipeline—who is available at what level and when. Backup charts that extend several levels down into an organization can also show gaps in bench strength, pipeline, and mission-critical capabilities.
What is change management and how is it different from project management?
Large-scale projects and programs can be quite vulnerably due to their duration, scope, degree, and nature. Change management is a “wrapper,” an approach to large projects or programs that confers, affirms, and supports the special status interventions of that scope need to succeed. Project management is a component of change management, but not all projects involve change management.
How can organizations assess their readiness for change?
For organizational change to take root, certain preconditions need to be in place. The organization must be “ready” for change. In assessing organizational readiness, best practice is to engage leaders and key stakeholders to establish a set of criteria by answering a set of questions, often in a workshop. This exercise will help define the risks and opportunities up front.
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How can change agents gain management commitment to support change?
Ongoing management sponsorship is one of the most important factors predicting success in competency-based practices. Some of the most important methods for ensuring support include the following.
- Early involvement in the profile-building process.
- Maintaining focus on the business payoff (i.e., cost/rework savings, improved efficiencies, better alignment between individual and team behavior and strategies).
- Involving managers in early pilots.
- Enlisting managers to support the integration of competencies into development plans and performance management tools.
If the genesis of the change is in middle management, then program components such as executive sponsorship, a steering committee, an on-the-ground change team, and a clear purpose including a definition of what would meet the criteria of full-scale change, are prerequisites for success.
Are particular competencies required for change management?
We have developed and used competency models to plan, assess, audit process, and evaluate different phases and outcomes of change management programs. The required competencies are driven by the context in which the change takes place.
What are the typical factors that can make large-scale change initiatives fail?
Typical causes of derailment in change initiatives include lack of sponsorship; no defined change team or insufficient accountability; no engagement or enrollment process; an insufficiently compelling vision; not enough back-end support, communication, training, problem solving, or commitment; and lack of long-term, relentless commitment to sustainability.
How can change agents determine the scope, scale, and pace of change an organization can absorb?
Change agents can do this first by assessing the different dimensions of readiness–acceptance, sponsorship, need, etc. The critical consideration is not to begin with a pace or scope of change that the organization is not prepared to absorb. Yet although it is important to measure the pace of change, it’s at least as important to be relentless. If the initial timeline is three years but it takes five years, then take five years.
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