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This high growth startup with 80 employees had rapidly expanded over the course of the second year to reach 140. While the ramp up was steep, the organization was on its course for steeper climbs over the coming fiscals. Inevitably, with the rapid growth, the sustainability of growth could only be ensured, if there was a healthy organic talent pipeline of leadership talent, pivoting individual contributors to people management & leadership roles.
For any high growth organization, the key to scalability is a healthy talent pipeline (Also see, The top 3 risks of high growth scale-ups, Forbes) & developing an organic one, not only helps reinforce strong performance ethos (of rewarding the contribution & capabilities with up-shifts), but also retains the culture – an essential to building a high performance organization.
In the process of developing people management & leadership competencies & behaviors, there was a specific ask to focus on the development of team efficiency, collaboration & trust.
Given the context, an explicit need was felt to expand managerial competencies depth, ensure strong team efficiency, and focus on the strategic objectives. The objectives:
– Build the future leadership team and healthy leadership talent pipeline to ensure growth sustainability & strong performance driven, capability focused culture
– Manage the organization’s growth with efficient teams
In collaboration with leadership, we developed a competency framework suited to critical success factors to thrive at a referenced workplace. This framework was augmented from talent acquisition framework (also developed by The Brew), with an addition to people centric & leadership behaviors impacting the highest in the given context. Post determining the yardstick, to institute talent pipeline, we developed a rigorous 9 – 12 months program (comprising blended learning mix, detailed below – from workshops, on job opportunities etc) to work with team to help the company’s talent pool improve and develop skills that will lead them to be more prepared for promotion and enhance their people & team management competencies. The program covers leadership abilities as well as self-leadership skills and team development.
This program was designed to enable participants to:
- Build self-development and self-management capabilities essential to successful leadership
- Engage in hands-on stretch assignments to build personal leadership and teamwork skills
- Broaden business acumen & deeper culmination of organizational values & culture
- Expand personal/professional networks within the organization
Being structured as a 9 – 12 month program, the following were the deliberate mix of modalities for development and engagement:
- Pre-work: Coming to the table ready for self-development : Prior to kick-off, delegates complete self-assessments that help them shape their own professional development by understanding their core values, strengths and communication/leadership styles.
- (Assessment comprised of Behavioral and Cognitive Assessments, 360 Feedback and Talent review assessments were leveraged to navigate through the development paths)
- Network/Knowledge Sharing/Team-building : Management involvement: The program is sponsored & led by executive champions who participate in sessions, mentor delegates and coach action-learning teams.
- In addition to this, there are fortnightly virtual sessions by leaders across diverse industries who have been in the thick of scaling high growth organizations. These anecdotal talks helped participants with multiple contexts & situational nuances broadening their thought & action horizon
- Kinesthetic Learning : Leadership/teamwork cannot be taught theoretically or in a case study based classroom environs; as per adult learning theories, the most impactful learning is experiential. To this end, participants must apply their evolving business acumen and self-development to action oriented cross-functional projects (key requirement), directly aligned to business needs, that serves as an incubator for skill-building
- Executives identify business needs & challenges, i.e., “How do we innovate in xyz segment” to “Identify how can certain key themes that organizations is focused on, be pivoted to most critical element in customer value proposition”
- Assigned teams collaborate to research and recommend. As needs being studied are not hypotheticals, participants are encouraged to meet with anybody & everybody to understand the challenges/opportunities, budget constraints, and complexities. Individually and as a team, participants assess opportunities/vulnerabilities, forge recommendations and explain decisions.
The Impact of Talent Pipeline
In a high growth setup, critical roles, high potentials & high performers are absolutely critical. So much so that disengagement or attrition can lead to stalling of an entire product, much worse, in highly competitive industries, it can jeopardize the entire organizational reputation & credibility. Hence, having a talent pipeline becomes an absolute ‘must haves’. Through deployment of development program, not only were we able to mitigate these risks, but equally get the better off, on following parameters:
- High Engagement & Organizational Confidence: A key objective along with building a talent pipeline was to ensure significant lift-ups in engagement levels of high-performing employees. Overall, 93% were highly engaged with the organization, reflecting confidence & conviction in the organizational mission.
- Progression Readiness: Another of key goal to develop talent pipeline was to have visibility to a definite career path (specific to people management roles). Post completion of the program, 78% of participants are ready to move to the next level; 42% are already working in people management roles, getting the platform to hone their skills & impact.
- Feedback: Pre- and post-program participant feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Particularly, participant responses to career planning measures (“I have a high-impact career development plan”) grew from 14% to 83% in the most recent engagement check; & professional network measures (“I have a strong network of contacts”) grew from 28% to 92%.
Continued business growth, engaged talents, healthy talent pipeline and enhanced management practice are some proofs of the benefits of the program. Feedback given by talents and management team reported that the teams has developed a stronger alignment to organizational objectives reinforcing cohesion, collaboration and synergy.