Here is an excerpt of an article written by Marc Effron and Miriam Ort for the Harvard Business blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Daily Alerts, please visit [email protected]
Don’t Make Conan’s Mistake
Marc Effron and Miriam Ort
Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Hideki Matsui are each corporate assets who represent a revenue stream to their organization. We all understand that the Yankees are out to win, and must make the talent choices that will give them the best odds come spring. NBC is no different. Protecting and increasing their revenue stream is a goal that trumps the needs of any one employee. Yet none of us would like to see our organization involved in this kind of unpleasant situation. So what could NBC — and all organizations that depend on talent — do differently?
1. Avoid defensive talent strategies: Conan was promised the host role of The Tonight Show in response to efforts by competitors to steal him away from NBC in 2004. Jay was promised the 10PM slot due to fears he would go to another network. Both decisions suggest a defensive approach to talent — keep them because “they’d be dangerous at the competition” rather than “they’re the perfect fit with our strategy.” Talent choices should be made proactively and to hurt the competition, not merely to avoid pain.
2. Place big talent bets: It can take new talent a while to reach their full potential. Give them that opportunity. Once they’ve identified their “stars,” organizations should focus all their resources on making them successful. Early missteps aren’t necessarily predictive of failure — it’s often just moving up the learning curve. A little patience can result in a big payoff.
3. Diversify succession risk: Lining up successors against individual jobs is a rather outmoded approach. Is it expensive to have two talk show hosts in the succession pool? Of course — just as it was expensive for GE to have three CEOs in waiting. Yet that gave them tremendous flexibility when it came to replacing Jack Welch. Somehow, GE’s succession planning rigor didn’t seem to reach NBC.
It’s in a company’s best interest to have great talent practices like these, just as it is generally in their best interest for them to keep that talent happy and engaged. But the reality is that providing you with a wonderful career experience is not their first (or even second) priority.
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Marc Effron is President of The Talent Strategy Group and Founder of the New Talent Management Network. Miriam Ort is a senior human resource manager at PepsiCo. Marc and Miriam co-authored One Page Talent Management: Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value, available from Harvard Business Press in May.
To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Daily Alerts, please visit [email protected]