• “Help me help you” – Talent Management in Second Stage Companies

    23 February 2011
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    Rebecca Davies has put together a great ½-day HR Summit at Walsh College on March 10th. (If anyone is interested, I have a few extra tickets, so please let me know.)

    I’ll be speaking about the shift that HR needs to make from Stage 1 to Stage 2, which is a substantial change. In Stage 1, HR is really about minimizing administrative distractions that get in the way of doing work. In Stage 2, HR plays a central role because talent is the key to success in this stage.

    People are central to success in Stage 2

    When I think about HR in Second Stage companies, I’m reminded of Jerry Maguire telling his client, “Help me help you…Help me help you.” Picture the staff of your business saying that to you, asking you for the kinds of strategic HR programs that make working at your company engaging, productive, and rewarding.

    But many Second Stage companies don’t have those kinds of programs, because they are struggling to make HR more strategic.

    Let’s look in more detail at the shift that happens as a company develops.

    Stage 1: time horizon – this year
    Stage 2: time horizon – 2-3 years
    A big part of the complexity in Second Stage companies comes from the need for the business to have a longer time horizon. In HR, that longer horizon means that personal development plans need to be developed – and then coordinated across the company…and with the company’s strategy and development itself. That’s much more complicated than the “get the job done” focus of Stage 1.

    Stage 1: define responsibilities
    Stage 2: define competencies
    We like to say that Stage 1 is like beach volleyball – success comes from reacting quickly and going wherever the play is. By the “end” of Stage 1, there is some consistency developing, and so the business starts to define responsibilities. As a business enters Stage 2, each role gets more defined, and as a result each position has its own set of needs. At that point, the business needs to define the competencies needed for each position to be effective.

    Stage 1: feedback focused on assessment
    Stage 2: feedback focused on development
    Just about every Stage 1 company I know struggles with simply doing performance reviews – the evolution they are working on is providing assessment feedback. The assessment framework is usually established by the time the company is a “young Stage 2,” and after that, the evolution that the business needs to make is the context of that assessment – the employee’s development plan.

    Second Stage companies need to shift their approach to HR to get the most out of their people – and give the most to their people.

    I’ll get into more detail about these ideas at Walsh’s HR Summit on March 10th. You can also read more about how my clients are handling Talent Management issues in my past blog posts on quarterly issues, and I have an article on the subject on our Resources page.

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  • Which comes first – the strategy or the leader?

    17 February 2011
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    In situations where the small business needs a new strategy and a new leader, do you hire the leader first and then determine the strategy, or do you determine the strategy first and then hire the leader?

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  • A new mindset for small business productivity

    9 February 2011
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    I know you Stage 2 leaders are impressive people – you’re strong, passionate, positive, and growing all the time.  Your skills and experiences are at the heart of your business’ success, and you have a drive to see your vision through and play a positive role in the community.

    In Stage 2, though, your impact comes from getting the most out of your organization, not just getting the most out of yourself.  That new, broader challenge needs a different set of tools.

    Two recent conversations I had with Stage 2 leaders highlight the change.

    Statement #1, by the founder of a 20-year, 100-person company:  “We have been a great company because any time someone saw an opportunity, they went for it.  People made this company great, and we cannot do anything to hold people back.  For us to get to the next stage, we need to let people loose more.”

    Statement #2, by the founder of a 10-year, 30-person company:  “We need to be more efficient.  We got through our first growth spurt by putting in processes, and now we need more, and we need to enforce them more.”

    What do these founders actually need?  To trade jobs, so they can help each other out!

    To get the most out of a Second Stage company, a leader needs to use 5 different productivity tools – people, process, structure, measurement, and compensation.  Most leaders are good at 2-3 of those…and are uncomfortable with the other 2-3.

    The founder who made Statement #1 focuses on people and needs more process; the founder who made Statement #2 focuses on process and needs to do a better job selecting and developing people.

    They both run successful businesses, but they would see their company’s results skyrocket if they used all the productivity tools that are available.

    Want to know what to do about your productivity blindspots?  Join me for a free 1-hour teleseminar this Friday, February 11th at 12:30pm to find out.  We’ll go into depth on each of the 5 tools with case studies and specific tips to make your company’s productivity jump.  Space is limited, so register today.

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