Marcus Buckingham Talent Management

Seismic shift #1: From serving the organization to serving the team leader

The three seismic shifts that will affect human beings, human capital, and human resources, according to Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and chair and founder of TMBC, will change organizations’ focus down to the local level, upset the traditional performance review process, and up-end traditional competency models.

At Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015, he elaborated on the first of three: the shift from serving the organization to serving the team leader. As he noted, in any given company, with policies, procedures, culture, and environment being equal, the success of teams can still vary wildly. The only difference? The way the team leader manages the team.

Buckingham says that no matter where you work, as the team leader goes, so goes the organization. Despite the fact that every organization knows this, HR tools are made to serve the organization rather than the team. Most HR departments launch initiatives centrally and push them down to the employees. Buckingham suggests shifting the focus to the local level by borrowing the processes of successful teams and pushing those practices back up.

One way to do this is to change the performance review process. Instead of a once-a-year snapshot (that requires managers to rate employees on a scale) that is fed back to the central HR department for compilation, review, and analysis before being cascaded back to the manager, he said the process should be frequent, local, and personalized. He emphasized that HR should never be the first department to get their hands on performance review data and workforce analytics – everything should go to the team leaders first, so that they can act quickly on the findings.

This can be accomplished by moving the focus away from a traditional rating scale to questions that allow the manager to asses less subjective information:

  • What are the strengths of the people on the team – what can each person do?
  • What are the teams doing now – where is the work?
  • How are the team members feeling – right now?

We need to have managers start asking and answering these three questions right now and on a regular basis. By moving the focus from ratings, which Buckingham notes are subject to interpretation by each manager (some managers never give a “3,” for example), to real questions about real people, an organization can truly measure where each team members’ strengths lie and – importantly for engagement – how they feel about their work.

By  serving the  manager rather than the organization and focusing on real-time results and dynamic teams, Buckingham says a company can model success from the bottom up.

Our next post will focus on the 2nd seismic shift: from big data to real-time, reliable data.

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