Southern Company Case Study

Talent Management

This paper presents an evaluation of the effectiveness of the roles that strategic leaders play in the formation of the performance management strategy with respect to Southern Company as recorded in chapter 13 of the Goldsmith and Carter textbook. It is an electric utility from which more than four million customers benefit in the southeastern parts of the United States.  In many organizations, there is usually a continuous pressure aimed at attaining performance targets, reaching higher levels of performance and ensuring that work that people do supports the objectives of the organization. However, the main question has always been that, “how well do employees utilize their skills at work and, also, to what degree do they achieve the desired outcomes” (Carter & Goldsmith, 2009). Besides, it is essential for an organization to have a stable supply of leaders who have the right skills that can enable them perform their duties the correct way. This is essential for the success and survival of any organization that conducts business operations. For instance, having realized that most leaders were soon going to retire and their contracts were almost coming to an end, Southern Company started embarking on leadership development program to facilitate succession and ensure that there was continuous supply of required leadership skills in order to maintain business success.

During the early 2000, the aging workforce in the United States began attracting attention, which Sothern Company regarded as a potential challenge to business (Carter & Goldsmith, 2009). Following this realization, the company found it necessary to commence development of new generation leaders to ensure that there was adequate supply quality leadership skills that could meet the present and future business needs. Strategic leaders played a great role in ensuring that leadership succession planning was possible. The leadership played a great role by ensuring establishment and communication of vision and guidance so that all employees can gear their efforts towards achieving the goals of the organization. The strategic leaders had a responsibility to see that reports received directly collaborated and provided assistance in regard to trade-off decisions. The strategic leadership in the Southern Company utilized manager as the most appropriate channel of communication to pass essential information to the organization. The strategic leaders were, also, involved in mentoring first level management (Goldsmith & Carter, 2011). By identifying particular performance standards, leaders were able to comprehend the expectations that each level deserved. In doing this, strategic leaders made immense contributions in establishing a joint definition of leadership in the entire company.

In regard to the formation of the performance management strategy, the strategic leaders, through the leadership action council, effectively played a number of roles by developing the following recommendations in the year 2006 (Carter & Goldsmith, 2009):

  • Implementation of an external, impartial evaluation process both for individuals who had high potential and as well as executives;
  • Creation of a competence model that related closely with the performance standards in order to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of leadership candidates;
  • Ensuring that the business unit leadership and the operating company development programs have a common objective;
  • Creation of a multi-event educational experience that can enable high-potential manager to take up the roles of functional manager;
  • Design and implementation of a leadership database for capturing and tracing talent related information in order to develop effective strategies for evaluating talent gaps; and
  • Expansion of the succession process in order to focus on the creation of expected development plans for officers who become ready to take up executive positions.

Besides, having realized that managers were experiencing difficulties in regard to identification of the correct development actions, strategic leaders found it necessary to develop a number of leadership competencies to assist in rectifying such problems (Cheese & Thomas, 2011). These leadership competencies include: adaptation and response to change; decision making and initiation of action; critical thinking; formulation of strategies and concepts; commercial and entrepreneurial thinking; relation and networking; leadership and supervision, planning and organizing, and persuading and influencing.

In evaluating the effectiveness of the talent management strategy, following criteria should be put into consideration.

  1. Clarification of common objectives of talent management

This criterion requires establishment of an appropriate strategy for replacing key leaders to ensure that the progress of the business remains steady (Castellano, 2013). Talent management efforts should be advanced with role creation and role-modeling to facilitate talent development among employees. In regard to this criterion, there is need for continued intra-organizational talent development among employees. The organization should, also, consider recruiting, identifying and absorbing high potential individuals from outside. The organization should, also, take interest in having enough skilled employees in order to sustain the expansion of the business as well as greater competition.

  1. Identification of the nature of task and employee abilities

Talent management strategy cannot be effective without identifying the various types of tasks that the organization needs and the right people to execute them (Castellano, 2013). In this case, therefore, there is need for formulation of competency models to provide description of people’s success in completing certain types of tasks and regular update of job descriptions in order to match their skills with task requirements.

  1. Identifying the extents of the current performance

Every talent management strategy requires performance management as an integral element (Castellano, 2013). For talent management programs to be successful there is need to consider the results shown by key performance indicators as well as the patterns of behavior that relate closely to job success.

  1. Formulation of future talent requirements

In any dynamic business environment, it is significant to note that talent needs or requirements, also, become dynamic. The changes among these talent requirements are usually influenced by the company’s pursuit to attain its strategic goals (Castellano, 2013). An effective talent management strategy should enable people get promotions in accordance with both the current and future company requirements.

 

  1. Assessing outcomes of efforts of talent management   

Even though this is an issue of concern during the last phase of talent management program, effectiveness of talent management strategy can be established based on the available metrics at the time of setting initial objectives (Castellano, 2013). Assessment of talent management strategy can be performed depending on the number of individuals that have the capacity to attain the initial objectives. The data for evaluating the effectiveness of the talent management strategy can be collected through questionnaire. These questionnaires should be distributed within the organization to seek findings on recruitment strategy, training strategy, business planning, and leadership management to talent management.

There are a number of weaknesses displayed in the components of talent management strategy. The first weakness has been lack of a plan that comprises the three critical growth modes: the cutting cost and retrenchment mode, innovation/rapid growth mode, and no-growth/slow mode (Morgan, 2014). The components also lack a plan necessary for changing direction whenever necessary. For instance, the components fail to allow reversal of direction and skip the phase of growth in order to achieve a cost-cutting phase. The components, also, lack plans for periods when there is no much work to be completed in a particular area. During these slack periods, these components should have the capacity to cross-train employees to facilitate their movement to alternative job positions. It is, also, worth noting that the components lack desirable capacities to quantify and upgrade decision making speed. In the view of Cheese and Thomas (2011), this should be a necessary consideration because slow decision-making in a fast-changing and highly competitive business environment can easily result into a lot of inefficiencies.

There are; however, a number of alternative ways that can facilitate achievement of effective results. The first way is prioritization of business units and services even when there are adequate financial resources. Limitations relating to both leadership and staff require priority in order to concentrate on areas of the business where the highest impact could be felt (Morgan, 2014). The second way entails having an arrangement for overflow ability. This is necessary for responding to unexpected surge in the workload that may occur on a short-term basis. There should be designated outsourcing, contingent worker, or/and employees to handle excess workloads.

The functional expertise component of performance management strategy is critical talent consideration during planning for talent needs, attracting critical talent, recruitment of critical talent, evaluation, development and retention of critical talent (Castellano, 2013). This boosts the ability of the company to identify high potential individuals through a number of ways. For instance, with respect to planning for critical talent needs, strategic planning will assist in the analysis of short, medium and long-term business plans in order to increase comprehension of critical talent needs. Contingency planning with utilization of various scenarios can enable the company to identify high potential individuals. In regard to attracting critical talent, the company can become a talent magnet through leveraging branding. The company should leverage its brand through creating an ideal image in which high potential individuals can see great support in regard to challenging tasks, opportunities, happy employees and customers, and great pay rewards and benefits. In regard to recruitment of critical talent, the company should look inside first before looking outside (Morgan, 2014). It is essential to have extensive internal databases for identification of internal candidates with the right talent. Referral programs can, also, be utilized in order to save money and time during identification of critical talent. The company should, also, leverage employees where high-profile employees are utilized as talent magnets for contacting high-potential candidates. Besides, the human resource department should have the capacity to screen and select people with the right talents that company need.

In conclusion, many organizations usually a continuous pressure aimed at attaining performance targets, reaching higher levels of performance and ensuring that work that people do supports the objectives of the organization. The strategic leaders played a great role by ensuring establishment and communication of vision and guidance so that all employees can gear their efforts towards achieving the goals of the organization. The strategic leaders played a great role in establishing leadership competencies that include: adaptation and response to change; decision making and initiation of action; critical thinking; formulation of strategies and concepts; commercial and entrepreneurial thinking; relation and networking; leadership and supervision, planning and organizing, and persuading and influencing. The functional expertise component of performance management strategy is critical talent consideration during planning for talent needs, attracting critical talent, recruitment of critical talent, evaluation, development and retention of critical talent.


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