I was recently working with one of my Vistage members who was sharing some planned organizational changes with me. What he was proposing can often lead to a talent mismatch and often occurs within smaller companies.

His plan was to move a manager of operations into a sales position AND move an inside sales rep up to a team lead for inside sales. These two types of changes are the primary moves that companies make with their talent. The first is moving an employee from one function into another and the second is promoting an individual from an individual contributor to a manager of others.

At first blush, these two options sound like great ways to develop talent from the inside but they also come with potential risks if not done properly. So, I decided to ask him some questions (coaching 101: ask questions) to gain an understanding of his decision process, which had not yet been finalized.

As a leader, you can ask yourself these questions as well before making the final decision to shift talent within your organization. For all potential shifts ask yourself:

  1. What attributes does the employee need to be successful?
  2. Which of these attributes/skills are critical? In other words, prioritize the attributes of success.
  3. What are the high priority attributes/skills that the employee doesn’t have?
  4. How will he/she obtain the skills?
  5. And how long will it take to obtain the skills?

After answering these questions, you have the information necessary from an organizational standpoint to make a decision on whether shifting talent will be successful for the individual and the organization.

But before making this decision, if you haven’t already had a career discussion with the employee, you need to do so.  Career discussions should be part of your company’s overall talent management process no matter what size your company is.  And if it isn’t currently part of the process, now is the time to implement career discussions. And if there are gaps the employee has, a development plan needs to be created with measurements of success.

Now in the case of my Vistage member, he did not have all the answers to the questions, yet the lack of answers provided him with more clarity of what needed to be done before making the final decision.

So before you get to a situation like my client, assess your performance management system so you’re prepared to make a good decision. A good performance assessment should be performed every six months at a minimum and should include the following elements, which are linked back to an up-to-date job description:

  1. Clear goals that are understood by the employee and manager.
  2. Behaviors that are expected by the organization which link back to company values
  3. A self-assessment by the employee of how well they accomplished their goals and aligned with behavioral expectations.
  4. The manager’s assessment of performance to goals and behavior
  5. A development plan for future success.

As a leader your job is to gather all the facts and analyze future talent moves before the move is made so all your employees are positioned for success.

Image provided by The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu)