Dr. Kimberly Janson Of Janson Associates – What Top Leaders Need To Know About Talent Development

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One of the premier business coaches and consultants in the world, Dr. Kimberly Janson answers our questions about talent management. Her passion led her to complete her Ph.D. studies and work in over 40 countries. Her new book, a great resource on talent development, is launching in August – Determining Leadership Potential

Talent development is one of the most consuming topics on CEOs’ minds these days, and with good reason. We are experiencing a talent shortage and will be for a long while. Hiring and developing employees to be top talent can be an extreme difference-maker for organizations. I sat down to chat with the internationally known talent development guru, Dr. Kimberly Janson. She is CEO and founder of Janson Associates and has over 25 years of working with top-tier leaders in organizations around the world to optimize people, team, and company performance.

Her credentials come from being an executive in large, successful organizations, an academic and researcher, an author, and a CEO of a global firm dedicated to unleashing people’s potential. Before establishing Janson Associates, Dr. Janson served in top-level executive positions for H. J. Heinz, Bank of America, Hasbro, and Bank of Boston. Knowing Dr. Janson relies heavily on science learned while earning two Master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in Business, there is no better resource for answers to questions top leaders need for talent development, especially knowing she actually wrote the book on this, Demystifying Talent Management.

With this expertise in mind, I reached out to Dr. Janson with my questions on this subject, and she provided very insightful responses.

Where Should We Start In The Talent Development Discussion?

“The first place to start is to understand the landscape. Talent development is a piece of talent management. Talent management involves recruiting, assessing, developing, managing, and rewarding employees. Sadly, many organizations are struggling because they lack the talent to reach desired business results, and leaders don’t fully understand these components.” 

Who Is Responsible For Talent Development?

“The employee holds the most responsibility – they are responsible for their careers and for remaining highly employable. Managers are the next most responsible party. Talent development should be employee-led and manager-supported. Managers should align the development needed to support the business and strategic plan. HR is responsible for providing good resources in aiding development. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the senior team and CEO should make it a priority while fostering a culture of learning.”

What Do Employers Need To Know About The Employee Perspective?

According to surveys querying employees about their satisfaction level and concerns that surface repeatedly, Dr. Janson finds consistent themes of concerns: “People are unclear on how they are contributing to the business. They feel underutilized, not challenged enough, frustrated by the lack of coaching and feedback, and have underskilled managers who are not developing them or providing them with clear career plans. People want to grow and develop. If they don’t, by the way, you have the wrong people.”

What Are The Most Important Actions To Take To Focus On Talent Development?

“At Bank of America, we used to say, ‘Know the talent, know the roles, grow the talent, move the talent.’ It was an expectation of everyone. To know the talent, you need a strong approach to assessing your employees’ skills, knowledge areas, and attributes. Managers need to become brilliant at this with strong HR partners assisting. Then, know the roles in the organization and the work associated with those roles to factor into planning when considering employee growth goals. Next, have a robust development plan. Lastly, move employees out of roles. As a yardstick, I prefer moving them every two years. Don’t go much longer than that. People need dynamism in their work and roles to be continually motivated to perform as the best version of themselves. Brains need movement and change to be optimal. Of course, it all starts with stellar recruiting efforts to get the right folks in the door at the start.”

What Are Some Key Considerations In Designing A Talent Management Solution?

“To create a world-class approach to talent management, organizations need to do some soul-searching in defining short, mid, and long-range strategies and goals. Here is where the investment of time and resources becomes critical – they need to answer some intense questions thoroughly and accurately, which often requires outside support. The right professional who brings a balance of education, science, and experience to the table can drive the process to the best solution for the organization with far less angst and confusion. This job is complicated and should be entrusted to an experienced professional. Hiring and developing the right employees is a high-stakes endeavor when you consider that one wrong candidate can cost an organization six or seven figures or more in demoralization, employee turnover, and projects that fall short of goals.”

What Is Typical Work You Are Doing With Your Clients In Relation To Talent Development? 

“Some of what we do is help fix issues that arise from not having the right talent to begin with – issues that have become unpleasant (often complicated, toxic, embarrassing, and bewildering) for management. But we often get in at the ground level to help create an overall focus on talent management with an emphasis on talent development. We invest a great deal of time on leadership and executive development because if you can optimize them, that effectiveness positively impacts everyone.”

What Is One Of The Most Memorable Experiences You Have Had In This Area?

Dr. Janson laughed, explaining, “I’ve run global leadership programs in a dozen countries, but nothing will beat the time my team and I spent in Malaysia. The group of participants had a profound experience, but for my poor colleagues and me, everything that could go wrong, did. I worked with the best folks, who were so committed to helping people be their best selves…truly an A-Team, but so irreverent and funny. Jackie Boucher, Darcy Zeliesko, Joyce Bachman, and I did high-impact work with people while we laughed outrageously along the way. The things that happened were ridiculous, but we loved what we did, so we had a blast. The mission was successful – and delightfully unforgettable. I think there is a message in that too. Help people match to work they love doing because not only is it more joyful, they are typically better at it as a result.”

To further advance thought leadership in this area, Dr. Janson has done intensive research on the closely related topic of determining leadership potential, including a study that involved interviewing 50+ CEOs from a variety of backgrounds, countries, industries, and organization sizes. The resulting book, Determining Leadership Potential, is another excellent resource on the talent development front.

To inquire about Dr. Janson’s premier consulting and coaching services, reach out to her at Janson Associates.

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