In this sixth episode in the mini-series focusing on how to successfully take over a new team, we are talking about talent assessments. How do you assess your talent and have the action-producing conversations to move your team forward?
Talent assessments. When you read this, no doubt you cringed a bit. I get it. Talent assessments are hard. Why? Because most of the time we aren’t 100% honest with ourselves regarding how our direct reports are performing. We think “I will get to that later” and then we continue to avoid it. Those of us who don’t do that, those of us who do talent assessments, accept the reality that once we acknowledge underperformance, we have no option but to address it. And therein lies the problem and why most people try to avoid talent assessments. Once you acknowledge a performance gap, you are obligated to deal with it. But that’s exactly why I want you to do them!
When you have been in the role for at least 45 days, no earlier than this, you can sit down and do a talent assessment of your team. If you feel like 45 days isn’t long enough, you can wait up to 90 days, but please don’t go any longer than 3 months. You will lose a significant amount of traction if you wait.
You will never get as much momentum as you do when you create or take over a new team. So don’t waste it! Talent reviews help you move your team forward and carry forward that momentum.
Relative to the talent assessment, you are going to sit down and create a list of questions you want to answer about each individual. Create a list of questions before you start the review process. This ensures you are objective relative to every question for every team member.
Questions should be focused on how well the person is engaging with you and the team. Do they speak up? Do they seek to understand your perspectives and that of the teams? Other questions should focus on their performance in the role. Are they delivering to the goals? Are they performing to the expectations of the position? Whatever generates success for your team, create those questions and then ensure you answer each question based on your observations and interactions with each team member.
Your direct reports will fall into one of five possible performance groups. 1. Underperforming due to personal issues. 2. Underperforming due to capability issues 3. Underperforming but needs a training plan 4. Solid performer. 5 Exceeds expectations beyond what you expected
The last 2 options are easy conversations. You thank them, praise them, and you push them to take themselves to the next level. It’s fine-tuning their behaviors and skills at that point, and that’s a fun place to be in with the people on your team.
However, groups 1-3 are where you have tough conversations. And these are the groups that cause most leaders to avoid doing talent assessments.
If you have someone who is underperforming due to personal issues, you have to find the right way to offer them PTO or LOA. However, if they refuse to take the time, you have to put them on notice that you have to be fair and consistent which means they have to perform.
If you have an underperformer due to capability, this is where you start to have conversations to help them understand they won’t make it on your team. This isn’t a full conversation right now, wait until at least your 3rd month in the role before tackling this one. Just lay the groundwork right now.
If you have underperformance that a training plan will solve, you take action and create a more robust plan.
Realize that you can use these tools, talent assessments, and training plans, every quarter in your business to assess talent as you raise the bar. The point is to be fair and consistent.