By Sherif Attar
In a world of ever-changing ambiguity and uncertainty, executives have to face two challenges: excellent performance and people development. Where many managers think those endeavours are “competing”, this author believes they are “completing”. GET DOWN TO BUSINESS argues.
P&G does it well!
Professional companies are adopting succession management to retain the talent and also fill up the top slots when the vacancy arises. But, how can they plan to develop the middle managers?
When a marketing manager at Procter & Gamble (P&G) was enrolled in the company’s first middle-management training programme, she didn’t reckon she would soon become adept at walking the tight rope fit for a higher functional role. The manager was in mid 30s who joined P&G 7 or 8 years back. The big win was how the programme allowed functional managers like her to step into the shoes of a general manager.
Middle management employees across the organisations aspire for higher posts and even leadership roles. But, what confuses them is whether they would be capable of handling the challenges that come along. To deal with such issues, P&G has initiated a middle management training programme to build our future or the BOF which develops and trains them for their next big career leap. P&G is not the only one : HUL and Godrej are also adopting programs to sharpen their talent pipeline.
The emphasis on middle management is a thought even management experts now propagate vigorously. They believe that a one shot approach to educating managers is going to be inadequate. A process of refreshing, unlearning and re-learning at regular intervals is what they recommend for the corporate world to target leadership building. One of the biggest bottlenecks to growth is going to be the availability of high quality human capital. Companies have to take proactive steps before the bottleneck becomes a real hindrance.
At P&G HR managers realise the importance of developing leadership at all levels. The maker of Tide detergent and Pantene shampoo designed the BOF programme around 4-5 unique capabilities for its entire middle management which consisted of 150 people. It involved a week long process where people were executed from all branches. To bring in thought leadership, some of the best minds within the P&G world also have a session with the employees.
It is an intensive training programme which ends with an experiential one day session for business simulation where managers get to understand what business can look like. It’s like a case study but on a much larger life like scale.
P&G realised that since the organisation was growing at a fast pace (the business has grown 10 times over the last 8 years) it needed to keep the talent pipeline running. BOF gave P&G a much broader pool to choose from to meet any future requirement.
Middle management talent serves as a robust talent pipeline for senior leadership. We strongly believe in leadership development and in the philosophy of leaders developing leaders. In a market of acute talent shortage it is important to nurture and develop home grown leaders.
The process follows the 70:20:10 principle under which 70% of the learning is expected to come from experiences in the current job and business projects, 20% from relationships and 10% through formal programmes like classroom training and e-learning. It also measures the effectiveness and business returns from such programmes.
Similarly, Godrej Industries has put in place a leadership development programme for select middle management employees based on their performance and potential. They select 25% of middle management employees and invest disproportionately on their learning so as to help them become successful future leaders. Organisations are beginning to recognise the value of mid-career development and training.
For questions or suggestions, please send your comments.
Sherif Attar, an independent management consultant/trainer and organisation development authority, delivers seminars in the US, Europe, Middle East and the Far East.