Executive Development Blog

Time to Refine Your Approach to Talent Management?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Mar 16, 2017 11:14:54 AM

Read the scenario below.  If it sounds familiar, it may be time to refine your organization’s approach to talent management.  If that’s the case, we can help.

Jill Smith is an HR professional at a quickly growing shoe company, Sandalias. The founders started the company 10 years ago, and after several years of incubation and hard work, their market is expanding quickly. While some sales are online, most sales come from brick-and-mortar stores. Innovative design, great marketing, and an excellent customer experience have gotten the company to this point.

talent-2.jpgOn a recent Monday morning, Smith received a call from the head of marketing. Some social media attention the company received prompted a competitor to poach Sandalias’ best marketer. The head of marketing needs a replacement ASAP. Smith makes a note to talk to recruiting and heads to the break room for some coffee.

While in the break room, she runs into Steve Palmer, vice president of manufacturing. Palmer tells Smith that he is worried because his two best managers are nearing retirement age, and he doesn’t feel comfortable with any of their direct reports ability to replace them.

Returning to her desk, Smith catches up on her emails. She finds a message from a district manager that says (in all caps) that her region needs three new managers pronto. Smith cringes at the message. Sandalias will be opening five new stores this year, and only two assistant managers are ready to assume a manager role, and lately, managers recruited from outside Sandalias haven’t worked out too well. Smith has raised the idea of a more systematic approach to talent management in the past, but the founders thought they knew who the players were in the company, and managers were wary that new, more centralized programs would constrict their decision making. Smith needs a better way to make the connection between the success of the company and the need for talent.

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Topics: talent management, talent development

It Has Arrived! ideas@work Volume 12 Now Available.

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jan 10, 2017 11:16:07 AM

UNC's ideas@work journal has been developed specifically for business leaders who have an interest in talent management. Each volume of the journal contains a number of talent development white papers that highlight experiences and insights gathered from partners, our fellow organizations, and the UNC Executive Development team. Volume 12 of our UNC Executive Development talent management journal is now available. 

ideas cover V 12.jpgideas@work - Volume 12 combines four of our most recent white papers as well as excerpts from a webinar with an industry leader. Here is a brief overview of each article:

  • Unlocking the Potential of Big Data: 10 Implications for Leaders
    Chris Hitch helps unlock the promise of big data analytics and details a 90-day action plan to help business leaders accelerate their strategic priorities by applying big data analytics.

  • Preparing Business Leaders for Digital Disruption
    Kip Kelly and Kimberly Schaufenbuel join forces to explore how digital disruption is forcing many companies to rethink their business models, and how as these companies adjust in response to digital disruption, they will need to think differently about talent management.
  • 7 Steps to Creating a Lasting Learning Culture
    In his paper, Horace McCormick examines the reality that employees at all levels and from all generations want and expect dynamic, self-directed, and continuous learning opportunities from their employers, and he offers 7 steps towards creating this learning culture.

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Topics: leadership, talent management, talent development, leadership development, learning and development

7 Steps to Creating a Lasting Learning Culture

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Oct 20, 2016 11:19:16 AM

Globalization, technological advances, demographic shifts, and rapid business changes make creating a learning culture in organizations more critical than ever. These shifts are also requiring more transformative approaches to learning as leaders struggle with ambiguity, uncertainty, and demands for greater transparency and knowledge. Organizations and individuals must be continuously learning, adapting, and improving or they risk professional obsolescence.

A learning culture is a systematic approach to establishing a personal and organizational growth mindset. It is a culture of inquiry. Organizations with learning cultures encourage employees to constantly add knowledge and develop competence. They encourage employees to have open minds and an independent quest for knowledge and shared learning because these qualities help achieve organizational goals.

learning.jpgTo create a learning culture consider taking the following steps:

1. Rethink the traditional learning and development approach.
It is time for leaders to realize that the way employees want to learn today—through mobile learning applications and other readily accessible online lectures, TEDTalks, webinars, and podcasts—has permanently changed the traditional learning and development process. Employees want more control of their own learning, making learning a continuous process, not one-time-only classroom style events. There is no substitute for the bonding and peer relationships that stimulate learning in formal classroom development, but organizations must integrate mobile learning applications and other learning-on-demand resources into their organizations.

2. Broaden your organization’s definition and understanding of intelligence.
A true learning culture must view intelligence as more than just cognitive skills. Leaders must expand their organizations’ intelligence perspective to include a deeper understanding of emotional and cultural intelligence. As organizations broaden their definition and understanding of intelligence, they must provide employees the necessary skills to manage and value differences in thinking, working, and problem-solving. Leaders must provide emotionally safe environments for people who are easily labeled as “different.” This is the most fundamental responsibility of an inclusive organization that wants to retain its talent.

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Topics: employee engagement, talent development, organizational culture, learning and development

Wanted: Those Who Understand Big Data

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jul 21, 2016 11:47:39 AM

The demand for big data talent is growing rapidly. Many organizations are planning to increase their staff in big data and analytics in the upcoming year and estimated that big data staffing would increase significantly in the next few years.

 HelpWanted.jpgA recent McKinsey study supports these findings. The authors predict that there will be a severe shortage of those who can analyze and interpret big data, predicting that by 2018, the United States could face a shortage of up to 190,000 workers with deep analytical skills and 1.5 million managers and analysts with the ability to use the big data analytics to make effective decisions. (Manyika et al, 2011.) This includes the ability to integrate findings from big data with knowledge derived from other techniques which offer different strengths and biases, such as focus groups and targeted surveys.

The increasing demand for big data analysts who can crunch and communicate the numbers and the lack of managers and business leaders who can interpret the data means there is a growing talent shortage in the field. A survey conducted by The Big Data London group (in Raywood, 2012) found that 78 percent of respondents said there was a big data talent shortage, and 70 percent believed there was a knowledge gap between big data workers and those commissioning the projects (e.g., managers and CIOs). Another survey by NewVantage Partners (2012) found that 60 percent of respondents reported finding it very difficult to find and hire big data professionals, and 50 percent of respondents said it was very difficult to find and hire business leaders and managers who could identify and optimize business applications in big data.

This impending talent shortage will create a significant challenge for HR and talent management professionals responsible for recruiting, developing, and retaining a critical skill set that will soon be in high-demand. To help their organizations realize the full potential of big data, HR and talent management professionals must understand the fundamentals of big data, why it matters, and what skills their organizations will need to analyze and interpret the large amounts of data they collect.

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Topics: leadership, talent management, talent development, data

Should High-Potential Employees be Informed That They are High Potentials?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 16, 2016 11:41:19 AM

To answer this question we looked to Marc Effron. Marc is president of The Talent Strategy Group and co-author of One Page Talent Management (2010: Harvard Business Review).  He also teaches in UNC’s Talent Management Institute.  He expressed his insights on the topic in "The Case for Transparency".

The most compelling reason to tell employees of their high-potential status is that studies have shown a strong correlation between companies that have open performance conversations with employees and better financial performance. According to recent studies, companies in the upper quartile of total shareholder return are nearly three times more likely to tell high performers of their status than companies in the lowest quartile.HIPOS.png

In addition, telling employees that they are "high potential" is a powerful signal that the organization values their contributions and believes in them enough to invest in their future. In today's competitive marketplace for leadership talent, consistent and meaningful messages like these go a long way toward encouraging key talent to stay with the organization.

Not telling employees of their high-potential status creates an increased risk that they will go to an organization that will recognize and develop their talent. High-potential employees tend to know that they have high potential, whether they're officially told or not. And they're not alone. Headhunters know it, their peers know it, and industry colleagues know it. If their employer doesn't tell them, there's a good chance someone else will.

Finally, telling employees of their high-potential status can give employers an edge in the ongoing challenge to attract and retain key talent. By developing a formalized high-potential program and maintaining it over time, companies can build a reputation as a place where people can grow as leaders, prove themselves through a variety of opportunities, and build rewarding careers. As a result, companies can gain greater access to the best talent at a lower overall recruiting cost to drive competitive advantage.  

To learn more on this topic download a copy of the UNC white paper below titled, Identifying High-Potential Talent in the Workplace.  Also, consider attending the upcoming Talent Management Institute and learn more from Mark Effron and Jim Shanley on the topic of high-potential talent in your organization.

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Topics: talent development

Developing Leaders in a Competitive World

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Jun 14, 2016 12:19:41 PM

Businesses today face a number of challenges to operate efficiently and maintain competitive advantage and it is often incumbent upon company leadership to provide the proper direction to help their teams navigate these challenges and adapt appropriately. Without a steady pipeline of talented individuals with the knowledge, skills and experience to step into leadership roles, or an effective process to identify high-potential employees and give them the necessary training to be effective leaders, the company will be unprepared to handle the changes and challenges of the future.

For over 60 years, UNC Executive Development has partnered with organizations to create customized executive development programs to answer their business challenges. As a part of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, UNC Executive Development brings the School's experience, reputation and noted faculty to these challenging and impactful programs. Download this brochure for a brief summary of UNC Executive Development's custom and open-enrollment executive education capabilities. 

We're always updating and adding new programs to our calendar. Click here to see what's currently scheduled.

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Topics: leadership, talent development, change

Why Organizations Don't Learn - Webcast June 9th

Posted by UNC Executive Development on May 12, 2016 10:46:33 AM

While all organizations understand that continuous learning is instrumental to success, most would also agree that it is an ideal that is very difficult to achieve.  After ten years of research, Brad Staats of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, have concluded that there are four biases that stand in the way of continuous organizational learning.  In their HBR article “Why Organizations Don’t Learn,” Staats and Gino explain that organizations often don’t learn because people focus too heavily on success, are too quick to act, try too hard to fit in, and rely too much on experts.  In this webcast, Brad Staats will elaborate on these four biases as well as suggest tactics for overcoming each.

Join UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Bradley Staats for a live webcast discussing his research on:
“Why Organizations Don’t Learn” 

Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:00am (EDT)

Bradley Staats

Associate Professor of Operations, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business Schoolbrad.unc executive development.jpg

Brad Staats examines how organizations can improve their operational performance in order to build a generative competitive advantage. Dr. Staats integrates work in operations management and organizational behavior in order to understand how and under what conditions individuals, teams, and organizations can perform their best. His field-based research in such settings as healthcare and software services, consulting, call centers, and retail, uses archival data and field experiments to provide an interdisciplinary perspective. Prior to his academic career, he worked at a leading venture capital firm in the southeastern United States. He also worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and strategic planning at Dell Corporation. Dr. Staats received his DBA in technology and operations management and MBA from Harvard Business School. He received his BS with honors in electrical engineering and his BA with high honors in Plan II and Spanish from The University of Texas at Austin.

UNC Executive Development will be partnering with IEDP to deliver this webcast as part of their "Ideas for Leaders" series.


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Topics: talent development, leadership development, learning and development

Who's Afraid of Workforce Strategy?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Mar 1, 2016 12:07:02 PM

Who's Afraid of Workforce Strategy? UNC white paperMany large organizations built workforces of thousands of employees only to discover, after some form of disruptive change, that many of the skills and mindsets of their workforces were incompatible with the demands of evolving markets. These organizations may have masterful business strategies, but they are stuck with workforces that cannot execute. The gap between the quality of business strategy and the capability of the workforce is an important predictor for successful execution of strategy and achievement of financial targets. Today, more than ever, disruptive forces affect labor, quickly render workforce skills obsolete, and diminish the value of your most important asset. CEOs ask, “Why are we struggling to execute on the business plan year after year, and why didn’t we see this coming?” If your company’s approach to managing the workforce in the world of fast-changing labor and market realities increasingly feels like walking a high-wire without a net, it’s time to take a serious look at a more impactful and decisive workforce management method.

The beauty of workforce strategy is its focus on developing the capability and culture required to quickly adapt the workforce. This agility is based on the needs of a business strategy that anticipates shifts in the market. This adaptability includes the workforce size, cost, skills, and qualities needed to execute the strategy, often under multiple future scenarios. In contrast, workforce planning focuses more on shorter-term labor forecasting and availability projections and, generally, does not take into account the various scenarios that could disrupt the workforce’s ability to execute the long-term business strategy.

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Topics: HR, talent management, talent development, strategy

Accelerating Diversity for a Better Bottom Line

Posted by Kip Kelly on Dec 9, 2014 10:43:00 AM

Below is an excerpt from a recent white paper written by Horace McCormick, a program director here at UNC Executive Development.  The paper explores the value of diversity and offers tips to help organizations leverage diversity to boost the bottom line.


Organizations rich in ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation diversity are more innovative, creative, and demonstrate better decision making and problem solving, all of which leads to an improved bottom line (Philips, 2014). Josh Greenberg from The Multicultural Advantage website also notes that diversity boosts an organization’s adaptability because it helps employees generate a better variety of solutions to problems and allocation of resources than more homogeneous workforces. Diversity also helps employers more effectively offer a broader range of services because they retain employees with a deeper set of skills and experiences (like language and cultural understanding) that can give their organizations a competitive advantage by providing more effective services on a global basis (Greenberg, n.d.). Diverse organizations also foster a variety of viewpoints, and when CEOs and leaders really take heed, can generate better ideas that lead to improved creativity and innovation (Blanchard, 2014).

There have been a number of studies that demonstrate the benefits of workforce diversity. A 2012 study by business professors Cristian Deszo from the University of Maryland and David Ross from Columbia University found that having women at the top management levels led to an increase of $42 million in firm value. The study also examined “innovation intensity” and found that organizations which promoted innovation intensity experienced more financial gains when women were part of the top leadership team (Philips, 2014).

Diversity white paper from UNC Executive Development

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Topics: leadership, Gen Y, UNC, talent management, talent development, high-potential talent, leadership development, multigenerational workforces, learning and development, diversity

Beyond Smiley Sheets: Measuring the ROI of Learning and Development

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Nov 13, 2014 9:55:37 AM

Here's a summary of one of our white papers by Keri Bennington and Tony Laffoley:

Measure the ROI of Learning and Development

A recent report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development found that evaluation of learning and development (L&D) programs was a top priority in organizations. Despite this finding, calculating return on investment (ROI) on L&D programs is seldom done, and too often, it rarely involves going beyond asking for feedback (e.g., “smiley sheets”) from participants immediately after the event.

Beyond Smiley Sheets 

Calculating the effectiveness of L&D programs can be a challenge, particularly when the programs involve the development of softer skills such as improved collaboration, decision making, innovativeness and the ability to think strategically—common learning objectives in many leadership development programs and a critical development area in many organizations. It can be difficult to assign a hard-dollar value to such skills, or to show a correlation between the learning initiative and acquisition of the targeted skills.

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Topics: talent management, talent development, learning and development