7 Actions That Drive Sustainable High Performance

There’s always room to improve performance.

These talent practices can help companies consistently meet or exceed strategic business objectives over time, a condition called sustainable high performance.

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  1. Review and adapt: The alignment and integration of business strategy, organization design, and talent should be routinely reviewed and adapted as appropriate. At a minimum this should be done at Board meetings and during executive business reviews. It should be done more often if the pace or scale of change warrant.
  2. Focus intensely on building critical capabilities: Identify, measure, and close critical strategic capability gaps.
  3. Remove obstacles: Identify and fix situations where top talent are blocked from advancement opportunities. Blockers are employees who have occupied a position for a long time and are no longer developing in the role. This limits the number of developmental jobs available. Assuming effective performance management practices, blockers are at least solid performers and care should be taken to move them into new roles that will allow them to further grow and develop.
  4. Prime the pump: It isn’t a natural impulse for most leaders to give up their top talent, especially if they don’t have a ready successor. Recognize and reward leaders who let go of top talent at the right time, and who develop and export top talent consistently.
  5. Invest disproportionately: Invest more time, money and other resources on individuals who create the most value.
  6. Apply rigor to identify, calibrate, and accelerate development: Expose top talent to a mix of assignments and experiences that give them a big picture view, the latitude to contribute innovative ideas, and a heavy dose of interaction with company executives and board members.
  7. Ask the right questions often: Make a habit of regularly asking questions like the ones below at talent reviews, staff meetings, executive offsites, board meetings, town halls, training events, exit interviews, etc. Doing so will reinforce your commitment to talent management and you’ll also gather actionable data and insights that help you to accurately diagnose and take actions that will drive consistent high performance.
    • Why do people join our organization? Stay? Leave?
    • What is our culture? Does it fit with what we say it is?
    • Are our best leaders in the most critical jobs?
    • Do we have enough backups and pipeline for our critical positions? Top talent?
    • Are solid retention plans in place for our top talent?

What actions would you add to this list?=

David Jardin is a consultant with the iTM System Group where he works with leaders and teams to make talent management simple, practical, and profitable. He began his career as a CPA and has spent more than 20 years in leadership roles in talent management and organization development with global companies including Citigroup, Coopers & Lybrand, Pfizer, and Tyco Electronics. Contact him at davidjardin@mac.com.

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