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Monday, August 18, 2008

Dinner with the Stars

TCL has grown from very humble beginnings to a size now where not all the pieces join up as easily as they used to. A big part of this is how well we know each other, and can subsequently develop the futures of the people in the company as well as the company itself. These two, of course, being intrinsically linked.

At TCL we have a strategy for the development of our people which is rooted in gaining an understanding for their capability and future potential within the organisation.

Through their line management reviews and the interactions we have with each member of staff we pull together a measurement of these two areas, and using a boston matrix we plot out where people are.

The results provide us with four quadrants:
  1. High Potential and High Capability - the Stars - the future of our company. The people who will work harder, achieve the most and ultimately be key to the future success of the company. For these people we seek to find regular rewards and opportunities that stretch them and develop their potential.
  2. High Potential and Low Capability - the Rising Stars - people who could be key to the future, but for now we must focus on training them so that their capability aligns with their potential.
  3. High Capability and Low Potential - Experts - for these people they have reached a role in the company where they are likely to remain, perhaps with some sideways changes in the future. They are normally experts in what they do, and happy with it. For these people we seek to find opportunities for them to train others, share their knowledge and employ their skills in the most challenging environments
  4. Low capability and low potential - the question marks - for these people we have a question mark. We seek to understand them better, to be sure that we have assessed them correctly. Then we seek to either change them - through training, coaching and mentoring or lose them from the company. When someone becomes a question mark we have a target to have resolved the situation within 3 months.
This strategic view on people is starting to show some real success, and its overall effectiveness is key to us mitigating a principle risk to company growth & long term sustainability.

Recently, I have introduced a dinner with the stars event, where the senior team sits down to 'break bread' with these stars. Its a relatively informal time, where conversation ranges from 'when are we getting our new business cards' through to 'I'm really interested in working in America' and along the way includes things such as ' I really don't like my current assignment - when can I go somewhere else / do something different'.

We do it partly as a reward - the evenings are very enjoyable - and partly as an opportunity. The opportunity is that the senior team are all in one place, and can be engaged with on a one to one basis, or as a group. Everyone then gets to know each other a little better, and we can exchange information of various types that perhaps may have been otherwise inhibited.

We've held two of these events so far, and they have been pretty successful in engaging people and getting dialogue going. I am very happy about that as dialogue is the foundation stone of effective team working and that is my #1 objective within the company.

On a personal note, I find the events very enjoyable and valuable. It seems strange, but for the first few years of the company I recruited each person, or was intimately involved with the recruitment and induction of each person and got to know them all quite well. As the company has grown and responsibilities have changed there are fewer opportunities for me to get to know people, their values and their heritage despite such things as company parties etc.. These dinner events help to transcend a bit of the gap - which I guess can be a two way perception and potential problem.

The vision for TCL is clear. We strive to become a world wide, world class centre of testing excellence by 2020. To make this happen we need to recruit, train and retain some amazing people and with them to create an amazing team.

The next event will be taking place in October / November. I'm already looking forward to it :)

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