Calibrating Talent Management

November 26, 2014 Brian Beattie

Performance reviews are a way to look back on how well an individual executed on expectations for their role.  Here at Volaris the talent management process is a three part system that is different than the traditional performance management process, however, we believe it is highly effective. Managers first complete a talent profile for each employee, then those profiles are discussed with the group of leaders who are one level above the manager. They all agree on the profile – this is where calibration takes place - and then the manager gives the feedback to the employee in a one page written memo and in a one on one meeting. One of the key reasons why we’ve implemented this system is because having our managers develop, evaluate, and finally speak about their employee is a great test of their leadership abilities. As well, as the CEO it gives me the ability to see the effectiveness of our leaders three levels down in the organization.

The bulk of the time is spent discussing the talent profile with the group of leaders. What is a talent profile? It’s a four page document that encompasses everything you need to know about the employee for the past year and any next steps going forward. Here’s a breakdown of what is in those four pages and how we evaluate each section.

Part 1: Background

This document is a one page summary of an employee’s background. All the standard info you would expect on a background summary – education, training, career experience (includes jobs at other companies), other notable accomplishments, and how many people report to the employee. This portion is included in the process just so managers/leaders can get a quick refresher on their employees because we’re all human and forget things from time to time.

Part 2: Results

At the beginning of every year, employees and their managers work together to create a scorecard with specific, measurable, individually accountable, and preferably quantitative goals that they want to accomplish during the year. The employee’s goals need to cascade down from the leader’s scorecard. When we conduct talent reviews at the end of the year, the employee’s achievement against their scorecard is evaluated. The successful completion of each goal is rated  for the year’s result – green, yellow, or red. Green if the goal is accomplished, but why might it be yellow or red? Yellow if they were close and red if not! As I’ve said before, talent management is the intersection of people and strategy. If strategies aren’t aligning, then the goals need to be changed.

Part 3: Core Competencies

The core competencies evaluation focuses on the cultural fit of an employee by evaluating their leadership skills as we define them. It is the only qualitative measurement we take and due to its subjective nature, it can be a bit of dance to get everyone to agree on the competency rating. We measure 10 different areas – for example some of them are: integrity, innovation, initiative, strategic thinking, customer-centric, talent development, team building – and give them a green, yellow, or red rating. People who get a green rating are essentially the poster child for that trait. To get red, that person does not embody that trait at all. Most of people get a rating of yellow because they have the trait, but they don’t embody it as much as a person with a green ranking.

With this profile we are looking for outliers – people who have a majority of green or red ratings. If they are mainly green, then they are a good cultural fit and we need to keep them around. If red is the dominant colour, then we need to consider if this is the right place for them to be.

Part 4: Assessment Summary

With all the previous portions complete, the last step is a one page assessment summary. There is a brief overall assessment summary and strengths and weaknesses are also highlighted. We identify if there is a retention risk with the employee, and most importantly describe a high level action plan and a plan for those with potential. There is a final rating of performance. We use the same colour scheme so green for those who are best in class in their role, yellow for those still needing further coaching /developing, and red for those underperforming in their roles. Finally, we identify those who have potential. Though teams make you better, individuals make a company great so it is imperative that the leaders outline the next steps for employees, what they can work on, and what’s next for them going forward.

Things to Remember

There are multiple things to note for this process. Firstly, parts 2 and 3 of the talent profile are equally important! We care just as much about performance as cultural fit. We’re looking for employees who are both top performers and fit seamlessly with our values. True success happens when those two elements combine.

It is imperative to have the discussion meeting with the other leaders. It counteracts any bias that a manager may have, and it helps to calibrate the talent pool. What I mean by that is a leader can determine if an employee is doing their job correctly, regardless if they know them, just by asking questions about the practices the employee is or isn’t doing. Also, though the other leaders are there for the discussion of each employee, it is the manager who ultimately makes the final decisions for any changes that may come out of those meetings.

The memo needs to really focus in on the weaknesses of the employee and what they need to improve. The blunter it is, the better. That way the employee knows exactly what is expected of them.

Finally, we spend about an hour discussing each employee and though that may seem like a lot of time, people are at the core of every business so it’s worth investing the time into them and their development.

Your Turn

Sometimes during this process you come across employees who are excelling at their duties, yet their core competencies profile indicates that they aren’t a cultural fit. How would you handle that situation? Let us know in the comments below or reach us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

About the Author

Brian Beattie

Brian Beattie is the Chief Financial Officer at Volaris Group. Besides overseeing the financial health of the company, he works closely with Volaris’ legal and M&A team on all new acquisitions. Brian is an expert on every stage of the M&A process – from sending out the non-disclosure agreement to executing the sales purchase agreement.

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