Client Challenge Limited Leadership Talent Pipeline
The Finance Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) was facing changes in the external operating environment, and it was clear that their internal culture hadn’t kept pace. As David Blackburn, Chief People Officer, explained “We needed to change the way we operated to be less process-driven, with a more innovative and agile culture. And above all, we needed to build an outside-in customer experience ethos to raise the confidence and trust of the public, to achieve our vision of the FSCS badge being viewed as a quality kite mark within the financial services industry.”
This culture shift generated the need for a different type of leader, with the potential to change and the capability to flex to this new way of working. However, there was a lack of confidence that the right people were available internally.
“We were making big decisions on leadership talent in a subjective way It was clear that we needed to add more rigor to our succession management processes and to take action to reverse this approach” David continues. “Being an organization with a large number of data-rational people, I also knew that a more objective and factual approach would help us gain buy-in for a new approach with an internal talent culture of leadership aspiration and greater accountability.”
Investing in the objective identification of our leadership high-potentials has enabled us to target our investment in the right place at the right time to deliver the best outcomes.
Solution High-Potential Assessments and Development Coach
The FSCS began working with us in 2014, when they started to review the behaviors needed to achieve the required culture change and built their own competency framework around our Universal Competency Framework.
“These tools were already well embedded into the organization, so it was a natural progression to see how we could introduce objective assessment to identify our potential leaders for the future – both at executive and management level. The model of high-potential focusing on ability, aspiration and engagement provided a simple and coherent language that we could use to share and achieve a consistent definition of high-potential within the organization. But most importantly, the High-Potential Solution went beyond identification to look at the skillsets and development areas, and provided ongoing support.”
We ran an initial pilot program for 25 high performing managers, using our objective assessments to identify their levels of potential. To enable this cohort to truly develop the critical competencies for their role and for the culture shift at FSCS, we also provided all program participants with access to Development Coach for 12 months, to support their ongoing on-the-job learning.
Results A Candid Reality Check Driving More Focused Investment
The move from a subjective to an objective leadership talent lens provided confirmation that the succession pipeline was even less healthy than originally thought. “We came out of the process finding that only 1 out of the cohort of 25 was a genuine HIPO with the leadership potential to drive our cultural transformation. When we looked at the reports in more detail, we found that the group were very strong on managerial competencies such as planning, execution and delivery – but had some major gaps around strategic thinking, influencing and communications – confirming exactly why we don’t have an executive level leadership pipeline.”
Armed with this information, the organization is now able to make more targeted decisions about how to invest their leadership development budget. “Previously, we might have sent people on an external leadership course with no visible return on investment; we can now be so much more targeted about the specific leadership competencies we need to develop in each individual, and build this into their day-to-day work. The assessment data has been so valuable to get managers to put personal development and growth at the center of conversations with their people. Previously, one-to-ones were all focused around tasks, now conversations are much richer and individuals are more in control of their own development.”
And the results are slowly starting to pay off. “As a result of the program, we’ve been able to increase internal promotions into management levels with around two thirds of positions filled with internal candidates; we still have some progress to make on the executive level pipeline but I’m confident that we now have the framework in place to start seeing internal hires at this level in the near future.”