One of the crucial aspects of start-ups thriving and scaling businesses is their team. A team that is selected carefully and works in synchronization to deliver results that their leaders set for them. According to a study conducted by McKinsey, 90% of investors believe that the single most non financial influential factor in evaluating the IPO of a firm is the quality of the management team. Large organizations need to pay heed and start planning their people practices such that they can build stronger organizations.

Though some people will have you believe that building a team is now comparatively easier, the reality is far from it. Building a team still remains a leadership topic that is dealt with concern. Capable and ambitious people who come with the drive to excel and grow further are always desired and lauded, but what gets in the way is their niche specialization.

Breaking the mold of jobs responsibilities

Niche specialization or field-expertise is a skill that is still valued, but is proving to be an obstacle when it comes to larger firms. As these executives are promoted, and climb the ladder of hierarchy, their skill is what makes it difficult for them to take up roles that require other skills, especially those that concern team leadership and management advice. According to a report by PwC, 81% of CEOs are looking for a broader range of skills rather than a specialization. More than 70% of organizations, have a diversity and inclusion strategy or plan to have one.

In order to avoid such situations, organizations need to have a performance management program in place that is not, restricted to their appraisals but also evaluates their skills and helps them better their skill sets. Performance management software helps leaders to identify the skills of individuals and help them build on it. This eventually leads to a team composition that is balanced and works as an individual unit, in sync with other similar units, making the collaboration fruitful and bigger picture goals possible.

Asking more than mediocrity

Like Michael Jordan, world renowned basketball player, once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

Team dynamics is as strategic as team compositions, says the McKinsey study. Think of it this way, in a game of hockey, you need a goal keeper, you need a bunch of players making an opportunity to score a goal, and you need a person, who finally will score the goal. The individuals alone cannot score goals.

A team is similar. Though the team may have people with exceptional skills, unless they work together, it will not amount to much. Through using workforce management software, the HR teams and leadership members can identify the skills that individuals possess and map skills that complement each other to build a team that works as a unified whole. So, instead of a team that performs at a mediocre level, you get a team that not just pursues excellence, but also achieves it.

Communication is key

According to a report by Forrester, continuous feedback and coaching are now a standard procedure that facilitate evolution and learning for the organization. Great performance and learning sessions act as enablers for better customer experiences, and also act as providing opportunities for employees to learn and use newer skills.

With 76% of global executives laying emphasis on providing better customer experiences, feedback can be the crucial link that ties the whole process up, and makes it more achievable.  Performance management software are the go-to technology tools that are helping the management team understand and gauge how skills are being deployed through cleverly using analytics generated from the software.

Feedback is taking place on a regular basis, rather than at an annual appraisal process. Organizations are conducting learning sessions that go well beyond compliance training. The depth and breadth of employees knowledge is being expanded regularly, enriching employee experiences and customer experiences. Learning and performance management software are training employees to handle real-life situations. Call center software are being perfectly complemented with workforce management software, and as an organization, analytics and insights are far richer and more accurate.

The leaders’ pact

Building a team is incomplete without the leaders pitching in their fair share. Strengthening HR capabilities and the management team is crucial, says a McKinsey report titled, Beyond Hiring: an integrated approach to talent management. The talent agenda of the agency shall need to be spearheaded by such people. Instead of asking employees to do all the heavy lifting, the HR team along with the management team have to balance it out with the employees to increase productivity and experience effectiveness.

As McKinsey defines employee engagement – the degree to which employees feel involved and connected to their work and the broader context of the organization – is a critical driver of performance and employee satisfaction.

By setting clear and measurable expectations from employees, the management team knows what to expect. Performance management software help document the progress and help map the path forward. Corrective actions can be taken on a timely basis.

Though most companies leverage workforce management software for succession planning on an executive an even a senior management level, they are yet to use it for the most crucial designation of their organization – the CEO.

According to a survey conducted by National Association of Corporate Directors, two-thirds of public and private companies are yet to have a formal mandate on CEO succession planning. CEO succession planning is an integral process that most companies either neglect or have a problem in executing the right way. HP before Meg Whitman, Apple before Steve Job’s second tenure and Yahoo are some of the biggest examples of the lack of planning and/or SEO succession planning gone amiss.

Take your time

In order to understand the root cause of bad succession planning, let’s go back to the initial few steps. More often than not, the HR team works in close confidence with the senior management to understand the requirement and prepares a report that is presented to the stakeholders of the board in an annual meeting. This is the first cause of concern.

According to a Forbes article, instead of the board being presented with an annual report, the HR team should do this in a timely manner. The board should be involved from the word go and the document should be updated every chance possible and be made dynamic rather than a stale compilation, when the actual needs have already evolved. Workforce management allows not just the HR team, but also the stakeholders to take into consideration changes in market strategy and prevalent market conditions, which allow a better selection after all.

If the organization is prudent enough to have a cloud infrastructure, the selection process is further efficient and leads to a better decision. As cloud infrastructure allows for internal and external data integration in a seamless manner.

Choosing a worthwhile heir

A McKinsey report called, Planning for the Next Generation, highlights the second scope of opportunity that most organizations miss out on when looking for their next CEO. In order to select the best candidate for the job, organizations need to look at not people, but the responsibilities that the designation requires to be carried out. More importantly the board seeking the rightful heir should understand the responsibilities, which requires detailed research and is time-consuming. Unless they leverage workforce management tools and then build a job description that clearly defines the responsibilities and the adjoining characteristics necessary to execute them.

Once the necessary responsibilities are defined, the organization need not look far. It is possible then to consider the candidature of internal employees itself and train the top leadership such that they can contest for the position.

Test the waters

Even though interviews and screenings allow stakeholders to get a better sense of the candidates and their capabilities, it is still a leap of faith. So, another scope of improvement that organizations can benefit from is a trial run. Well, don’t get alarmed, instead of selecting a candidate and directly handing them a job and then seeing them not execute the responsibilities, it is better to allow your top considerations to prove their mettle.

By giving them a chance to deal with a crisis or hypothetical situations will not only test their skills, but also help stakeholders make a far better informed choice, or so advises a Harvard Business Review article.

What businesses know and come to realize is that no CEO selection process is risk-free. The results take time to mature and only then become apparent. But using modern day technology and tools such as workforce management software can lessen the risks and enable the board to make a wiser choice.


By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.