2017-08-23 HRExaminer article photo img public domain michaelangelo 544x306px

What Michelangelo Can Teach Us About Talent Strategies! Part II

If you haven’t read Part I you can catch up here.

In Part I of this series, we ended by asking this important question:

If You Had a Way to Unlock Even a Small Amount of the Untapped Potential of Your Workforce, What Would the Impact Be On Your Business?”

Imagining this possibility requires a set of assumptions.

Assumption #1: Employee Performance and Motivation Levels Typically Fall Far Short of What They Could Be.

Fact: Very few companies have found ways to tap into the deepest levels of workforce Performance and Motivation.

Business Impact: Vast, unused levels of workforce energy and performance contributions go untapped and are literally wasted.

Assumption #2: Truly Impactful Performance and Motivation Strategies Require Understanding What Actually Drives Behavior.
An easy way to understand Performance and Motivation strategies is to use the concept of Levels.

Example: What we can call a Foundational Level includes basic Performance metrics such as Role Clarity and Reward Systems while we call a Transformational Level includes much more powerful Motivators such as a Compelling Vision and a Well Articulated Strategy.

Business Value: Provides a straightforward way to understand which Performance and Motivation factors actually drive desired behaviors.

Assumption #3: Distinct Performance and Motivation Levels Can Be Identified Through the Use of Specific Indicators.
These Indicators range from structural components such as role clarity, to decision making processes, to Leadership behaviors that inspire passion and commitment.

Example: Ensuring people have Clear accountabilities vs Ensuring everyone understands and is committed to the company Vision and Strategy have different levels of impact.

Business Value: An easy-to-use blueprint for identifying actions that have the highest ROI.

Assumption #4: The ROI of Performance and Motivation Strategies Increases By Knowing Which Levers Create the Desired Outcomes.
Performance and Motivation strategies are more likely to be successful by knowing which Levers to pull.

Example: Expecting to strengthen Passion and Commitment levels by simply creating clear Workflow processes vs Creating a Compelling Vision that ignites peoples’ desire to make a difference will result in different outcomes.

Business Value: Pulling the right Levers increases the likelihood of the desired outcomes.

A Talent Strategy to Unlock Your Company’s Hidden Growth Engine

The Performance-Motivation framework that follows is comprised of three distinct Levels that are built upon one another.

The Foundational Level:
Consists of the basic components of how work is structured. Examples of Foundational Levers

  • Role Clarity, Reward Systems, Workflow Processes… Example Indicators for the Role Clarity Lever
  • Establishing clear job priorities and expected deliverables. 
  • Agreeing on deliverables that support and align with my manager’s and my department’s goals.
  • Clarifying the interdependencies of my work in relation to the work of others; inputs I need, outputs I produce.

The Operational Level:
Consists of more complex components of work delivered through skilled application of management and Leadership capabilities. Examples of Operational Levers

  • Teamwork, Decision Making, Communication Processes… Example Indicators for the Teamwork Lever
  • Aligning work around common objectives.
  • Receiving support from other team members when I need it.
  • Holding everyone on the team accountable for commitments.

The Transformational Level:
Consists of the highest demonstrations of Leadership impact. Examples of Transformational Levers:

  • Vision, Alignment, Strategy, Culture… Example Indicators for the Alignment Lever
  • My personal aspirations and passion are aligned with the company vision.
  • Senior Leaders make hard choices about investments for the future that support the vision and strategy.
  • The work of different departments/groups is aligned to support mutual goals and performance expectations. Example Actions That Support a Transformational Level
  • Create and articulate a compelling and shared vision of a desired future state for the company.
  • Define a set of Core Values for the company; communicate & reinforce them whenever possible.
  • Create/communicate a clearly defined strategy that incorporates the vision, the competitive marketplace, short and longer-term objectives, and metrics for success.
  • Create ways to capture and transfer knowledge throughout the company.
  • Remove barriers to creativity.

Shifting Our Mindsets About Talent

Recall the question posed earlier: “

If You Had a Way to Unlock Even a Small Amount of the Untapped Performance and Motivation Potential of Your Workforce, What Would the Impact Be To Your Business?”

Working to reveal what is present, but perhaps not yet visible in any workforce requires a certain belief system, one that drives the right kind of behavior. It doesn’t matter if we’re sculpting or developing workforce talent. Simply stated, what we believe influences what we do. With respect to talent potential, if we choose to accept what we see on the surface, then we and those we support may never see the value of what lies hidden underneath.

When Michelangelo looked at a piece of stone, he might have asked himself this question: “If I carefully remove this stone’s exterior, what treasure lies hidden underneath?” For those of us charged with the development of workforce talent, the question we should be asking is: “What can I do to uncover this person’s greatest strengths that have not yet had an opportunity to be revealed?” Perhaps with such a mindset, we will be able to see David in the stone even before he becomes visible!

If you haven’t read Part I you can catch up here.


About the Authors
Richard Mirabile, P.h.D. Appears on HRExaminer.com as a contributing co-authorRichard Mirabile, Ph.D., is an Organizational Psychologist whose current focus of work is Executive Coaching, Building High Performance Teams and Designing Talent and Leadership Development Strategies. He was formerly a Guest Fellow at the Center for Leadership Development, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. Prior to that, he was the Founder and CEO of Success Factor Systems, the predecessor company to what is now SAP Success Factors. In previous roles, Dr. Mirabile has been a Partner in the Leadership Consulting Practice of Heidrick & Struggles, a Director of Human Resources for GTE – Telephone Operations Group, a guest lecturer at the Graduate School of Human Resources, University of Texas at Austin and an Assistant Professor at Purdue University.
Kelley Steven-Waiss is Chief Human Resources Officer at HERE Technologies and appears on HRExaminer.com as a contributing co-authorKelley Steven-Waiss is Chief Human Resources Officer at HERE Technologies, overseeing the company’s human resource management and talent strategy. 

Prior to joining HERE, Kelley Steven-Waiss was Executive Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources for Extreme Networks, responsible for the company’s global human capital strategies. Before that she held numerous executive management, including at Integrated Device Technology (IDT) and PMC-Sierra, as well as consulting positions in large global consulting, public software and retail companies.


Read previous post:
HR Tech Weekly Logo
HR Tech Weekly: Episode #137: Stacey Harris and John Sumser

This Week: OneSource Virtual Appoints Trey Campbell as CEO, Entelo Names Chris Grimes as Head of Recruitment Marketing Agency Relations,...