Relationship Building

August 2010

Dear clients,

A recent survey by Executive Development Associates (EDA) highlighted the importance of

building bench strength. For example, ”lack of bench strength” was identified as the second most influential factor impacting executive development (after economic conditions), and “increasing bench strength” was the top key objective in executive development.

In his book How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, Jim Collins clearly

connects the dots between bench strength and maintaining a competitive position in business, "If I were to pick one marker above all others to use as a warning sign, it would be a declining proportion

of key seats filled with the right people".

Getting high potentials ready is a major part of the bench strength equation. Respondents in the EDA survey placed much greater emphasis on the identification and development of high potentials in the 2009 survey than in any of the prior surveys.

LeMaSa noticed the same priority in the client organistions where we work and found that most organisations find the Talent/acceleration Pool approach worthwhile in developing high-potential and other employees to increase their bench strength.


Sandra Schlebusch

Relationship Building
Relationship Building

Building relationships is a fundamental tool for the success of every career and business. A healthy and successful connection with people at work depends on how a relationship is managed. In handling a relationship, it must be a mutual effort to keep it intact.

No relationship survives without ever having to deal with arguments and confli cts. Even at work, business relationships are tested by the differences among individuals.

For managers to be proactive in building relationships with their direct reports, they need to show interest in people. This entails asking direct reports how they are doing, what they are working on, what their concerns are, what their ideas are on a certain project or task, etc.

Learning more about each other at work regardless o f the de signation leads to the growth of a healthy relationship. It is not just the managers or superiors who are required to reach out to the members but the manner should be vice-versa. Each working individual should find time to interact with the people in the workplace because a mutually proactive and dynamic work environment will contribute to the success of each and everyone in the business.

Relationships truly provide the glue that enables bridges in the work environment and interpersonal skills enable those relationships. Do your employees have the necessary interpersonal skills to enable effective relationships?

The Acceleration Pool Approach to Developing Bench Strength
In their book, Grow Your Own Leaders (2001), Bill Byham and his co-authors advise organisations to develop executive talent through Acceleration Pools comprised of high-potential candidates who are tracked by the senior management team. Since the introduction of this approach, several companies have implemented it successfully. The Acceleration Pool System develops candidates for more senior levels, rather than targeting one or two hand-picked people for each senior position. Pool members are assigned to stretch jobs and task forces that offer the best learning and highest visibility, and accelerate individual development. Candidates have an assigned mentor, receive more feedback, coaching and training, and participate in special developmental experiences such as university executive programs and in-company action learning sessions. The difference between traditional succession systems and the Acceleration Pool Approach is depicted in the following table (Source: Grow your own leaders, 2001): Variable Current System Talent Pool Approach Time Frame 0 – 12 months 12 – 36 months Readiness Best candidate available Candidates with the best development potential Commitment level Designated preferred replacement candidate Merely possibilities until vacancies occur Focus of planning Vertical lines of succession within units or functions A pool of candidates with capabilities for any or several assignments Development planning Informal – the normal Personal Development Plan process is followed Detailed Developmental Assessments and specific plans and goals set for individual with stringent monitoring Flexibility Limited by the structure of the plans, but in practice a great deal of flexibility Plans conceived as flexible, intended to promote development and thinking about alternatives Basis of plans Each manager’s best judgement based on observation and experience Result of several inputs (assessment, reviews and discussion among multiple stakeholders) Evaluation Observation of performance on- the- job over time, demonstrated competence, progress through the unit Multiple evaluations by different managers on different assignments, testing and broadening of scope early in careers The Acceleration Pool System meets the need of the organization to develop internal bench strength because pools focus executives' time on developing the competencies of high-potential people instead of wasting time with needless paperwork trying to nominate people for jobs that are likely to change. Acceleration Pools are an attractive alternative because they fit the current culture's young managers by offering intensive self-development, job flexibility, and self-management of their careers. Once the candidates for the pools have been selected, they follow a structured Development Path. While continuing with their current jobs, candidates are actively involved in developmental activities for a period of two to three years. The first step of the two year development programme entails the attendance of a Collaborative Development Assessment Centre (CDAC) to identify the candidate’s specific development needs. The information from the CDAC is used to design a comprehensive Personal Development Plan. The broad development framework can be depicted as follows: Year Focus Typical development interventions Monitoring activities 1 (First six months) The development of individual strengths and development areas · Talent Orientation Day · Collaborative Development Assessment Centre (CDAC) · Foundational development programmes · External individual and group coaching · Self development such as reading, e-learning, videos, podcasts · On-the-job activities such as chairing meetings, leading project teams, acting, etc. · Networking activities · Specific instructor-lead interventions to address specific competencies · Monthly reports by candidates to record learning · Quarterly visits by Human Capital to candidate and line manager · Bi-annual reviews · Multi-rater feedback at end of first six · Building Portfolio of Evidence on a monthly basis 1 (Second six months) The development of the candidates in a multi-disciplinary team context · Work on strategic projects in multi-disciplinary teams and present interim and final results to Exco · Individual and group coaching sessions · Self Development · On-the-job activities · Specific interventions based on required competencies needed for group and project work · Monthly reports by candidates to record learning · Quarterly visits by Human Capital to candidate and line manager · Bi-annual reviews · Multi-rater feedback at end of second six months · Building Portfolio of Evidence on a monthly basis 2 Providing the candidates with broad organisational exposure · Rotations · Secondments · Internal mentorship · Functional information sessions · Group coaching · Networking · Special assignments and allocation of strategic tasks and projects to assist with ‘stretch” · Bi-monthly reports by candidates to record learning · Quarterly visits by Human Capital to candidate and line manager · Bi-annual reviews · Multi-rater feedback every 6 months · Concluding Portfolio of Evidence