The conference room was bustling with energy with most team members anxiously trotting from a previous meeting into this one, and already thinking about the next one. The delegated leader among leaders was already sitting at the head of the long conference table, spreadsheet on the screen with 16 other colleagues weighted into their seats. For sure, it was the bi-annual succession planning meeting and images of employee profiles were swirling above each leader’s head. You could literally see it. LDL Consulting was invited to observe this meeting to help identify work process improvement opportunities and overall compliance. This organization had recently experienced a work-force right-sizing, several workload rebalancing efforts, and the beginnings of what would become the great resignation. Needless to say, there was a lot at stake in effectively managing the talent pool.
To my surprise, soon after the meeting started, and the full spreadsheet was revealed on the screen it was mysteriously on 30% populated. That was very strange. Mostly because I know this is a very experienced leadership team that regularly talks about their people during meetings making project assignments and identifying focal points for critical roles. I also know this team is comfortable with pre-work as I’ve seen them do it many times in the past. So why was this spreadsheet mostly empty?
Granted, 2020 was a bit of a strange year considering a pandemic and all against at least another dozen world and life changing movements. However, the concern for people in the organization was paramount as leadership teams worried both about their personal health, safety, and productivity in equal parts. And yes, most administrative teams like this one had been resolved to working virtual over the past 9 months recognizing the risk of some people being out of sight and out of mind. Still, that would mean having a spreadsheet maybe 20% empty… not 70%!
The meeting progressed as the agenda dictated, about 30% of the people considered to be in critical roles were discussed in reasonable detail, and the leader/facilitator offered some closing remarks as the meeting appeared to be ending. I politely raised my hand inquiring about the next portion of the remaining 70% yet to be discussed, and was told there was no plan to do that.
I was baffled.
After a few more probing questions to challenge ignoring the remaining 70%, I realized there was a much bigger dynamic at play in the room and not everyone had complementary sets of toys and the playground was in need of a little maintenance.
After the meeting I quickly connected with the leader/facilitator and continued to ask a few probing questions, and also highlighting some of the recent research our firm has assembled around coming talent challenges across medium and large organizations. The leader/facilitator was quite surprised by the 4 points I offered around new and innovative policies on worker flexibility, skill development, allocation, pay for performance, and psychological safety. This person was even more surprised when I explained how quickly these concepts were evolving into practice, soon policy, and sooner still into culture. We decided to go have a coffee for further discussion, which soon turned into another meeting with senior leadership to quickly explore these concepts and many more.
The bad news. This leadership team unfortunately missed a significant opportunity to review their people (and their talent) and weave them into the current needs and priorities of the organization in a much more effective and productive way, much more strategically and empathetically. The good news. LDL Consulting was there to observe this and immediately work with multiple levels of leadership and employees to uncover challenges and help them develop real time solutions, while also sustainable into a dynamic future.
Well, you’ll have to contact LDL Consulting to find out. We’d be happy to share the rest of the story.