Podcast: Leadership Amplitude Episode 5

Take a deep dive into leadership development and team optimization.

Talent Management: The Hurdles Leaders Face

Chuck Gaskin, Chief Associate Engagement Officer for BB&T, discusses how leaders can get over common Talent Management hurdles to really speak to the heart of their employees.


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Anna Slaydon: Welcome to Leadership Amplitude. I'm your host, Anna Slaydon. Over the next four episodes, we'll be listening in on a conversation I had with Chuck Gaskin, Chief Associate Engagement Officer with BB&T. Chuck has had a long career in which he's worked with leaders not only at BB&T but also with organizations throughout the United States. I was curious to find out what he feels are the biggest hurdles leaders face in talent management. We join the conversation already in progress.

Chuck Gaskin: The challenge, Anna, is from time to time, just slowing down enough—and leaders find this hard to do—slowing down enough to say, “Okay, who are my people? And let me look at them from a fresh perspective. Let me look at them not from where they were five years ago or ten years ago. Let me look at where they are today and let me look at the future and where might I better leverage their talent and abilities? What am I missing as a leader?” And then it gets back to this. They got energy, enthusiasm, skills and abilities, knowledge that they want to share but until we slow down enough to say, “Wait a minute, let me take a look at them. Where are there real strengths?”

Now, Anna, there’s a tool I use—and this isn’t going to be about tools. I’ll quickly say that I use the metaphor when I’m with leaders, I say, “I am like a carpenter in a sense. I’ve got a hammer and the hammer I have might be the tools I use to assess talent but there are a lot of different hammers out there. You don’t hire a carpenter because of her or his hammer. You hire the carpenter because you want that individual to build you something.” With me, I’m a talent consulting professional and I have my tool belt but I don’t sell tools. What I want to talk about is what do the tools try to get at. And what I find Anna, is that often times, leaders don’t have a good feel for really four areas of talent.

Think about someone on your team. Maybe think about yourself if you’d like in these four areas. The first is leadership. What are the core leadership strengths behaviorally? Now, the key here is core behaviors that people have to be good leaders, for example, or to be effective leaders. Where is your talent in regard to having those core skills? Now, some of those, you can clearly train. Some are a little more difficult to train. For example, taking initiative, being persuasive and influential, being tough-minded when you have to be tough-minded. These are examples of leadership competencies and there’s a way to measure those. There’s a way to better understand where your folks are in that category or in that area.

Another is interpersonal. Boy, I hear that one a lot. My team works with people. They interact with one another. The interpersonal dynamics on teams can often times be a real advantage or honestly, it can be a struggle sometimes. People might not get along, for example, or they struggle in communicating with one another. These are very, very common challenges that talent—that teams have with the talent that’s on them. So how can you better assess where those natural strengths are? And the beauty here, Anna, is if you get a good understanding of that, you might see where the potential flash points are or stress points are and you can create methods to overcome those or certainly compensate for those. So the interpersonal.

We talked about leadership, we talked about interpersonal. Another one is problem solving and decision making. How our staff, our employees, our talent constantly having to make decisions, solve problems. And it’s just a day in day out kind of challenge for everyone in business. Particularly, the higher up one is in business. The lure, that’s an important part of their day to day work. Solving problems, making decisions. And there’s a way we can help companies understand that and companies can target that in terms of just the way they interact with people. Better understanding how they make decisions, how they take initiative, how they solve problems.

There are a lot of things around that that get out of the way a person thinks.  It can be abstract reasoning, linear thinking. It can be is someone a big idea generator or are they more pragmatic? They’re more practical. How thorough are they? Do they have a tendency to want to cross all the ‘T’s, dot all the ‘I’s or are they more open and flexible and fluid in the way they go about business. So we can get a feel for that. Now, the fourth. The fourth area that I would look at is personal organization and time management. And on that one, it’s sort of that big category, how do people organize their day?

Now, I’ll tell on myself here Anna [laughs], this is one where my manager would tell you, “Gosh, Chuck has to really turn up the volume to make sure he stays organized because I’m a pretty excitable kinda guy. I’m very creative. I love interacting with people. That is just a joy to me.” But boy, if you sit me down and say, “Chuck. You gotta get this documented. You gotta get your expense report in. Hey, I asked you a week ago to get me that report. Where are you on that, Chuck?” that’s a challenge for me. Hey, and for the leaders on this call, you’ve got yours as well. Right? Think about those for a minute.

Of those four categories I talked about, where would you see yourself as maybe the strongest and what might be an area where you’re not as strong. And when you know where you need to compensate, and that’s what the psychologists call it. They call it compensation. It’s where when I have a natural behavior deficiency, let’s call it that for a moment. I need to consciously compensate for it. I need to—with me, getting practical, being real with you as I promised I would, with me, it’s making sure that I set aside an hour a day where I say, “This is focus time,” and I shut my door, don’t take calls, don’t look up every time I hear the ding on the emails coming in, and I focus on one thing. It might be getting an expense report done. It might be getting a report to my manager that I committed to that I’m not late on yet but boy, I haven’t gotten started on it and it’s due in two days. That kinda thing.

So the personal organization and time management. Very easy ways to get a feel for that and to help managers and leaders in all four of those areas come up with targeted plans to develop and grow their employees in those areas. The importance is that it’s—when you think of talent, when I started in HR, I really focused on the word resources because my background is in both HR management and cost accounting. And when you think of cost accounting, you think of resource allocation. You think of cost of goods sold, of inventory, those kinds of things. So when I first went into business, I thought of people as, “Wow. They’re a resource.

Now, talent is a resource. There is no doubt about it. But I’m going to tell you, people are far greater than any other tangible asset we might have on our balance sheet as a business. The people are full of potential. If you think about people, talent, as a resource, what they really are is a resource that in many ways and follow me on this, listeners, in many ways, they are—they have boundless potential. Your challenge as a leader is to understand where that potential might be. For example, if you have someone who has really solid leadership competencies but you’re not really leveraging that, then think of it as you’ve just bought a car with a really high horsepower engine and you’re driving it in stop and go traffic.

What you want to do is get that car out on the race track or get it on the autobahn or something but get it out there to where you’re going to really be able to realize its potential, what it is really gifted at, where its true competencies are. And there is a way to do that and is not a perfect science. Remember that the social science, that human resource, talent management is not a perfect science. And that is a critical thing to understand. Because of that, leaders are not making six sigma talent decisions. What they are doing is they’re making the best informed decisions they can everyday of every business week and they are deploying their talent as effectively as they can, realizing that it will always be less than six sigma. And because of that, you want to be adaptable. You want to stay plugged into your folks. You want to communicate. You want to talk and you want to create that environment day in day out where they understand what’s expected of them and you’re able to tap into this enormous potential they have that you may not currently be realizing.

Anna Slaydon: Thanks for listening in on our conversation. We’ll pick back up on the next episode. In the meantime, I have some great news! We have been steadily growing. Not only in new content with thought provoking, new episodes lined up but also in audio quality. Help us continue to grow in 2019 by rating and reviewing our podcast, as well as sharing us with a friend or colleague. Episodes are available anywhere you get your podcast including iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify. For show notes or for additional information, find us at BBTLeadershipInstitute.com. Leadership Amplitude is a podcast production of The BB&T Leadership Institute. All rights reserved.

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