Seven steps for developing leadership talent - Career Times

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HR Corner Seven steps for developing leadership talent by Wing Kei Steamlined process grooms executives for top leadership positions The improvement in the job market in Hong Kong and upbeat forecasts for the economy have caused many companies to pay close attention to the strategies needed to hold on to their top performers. In most cases this involves a review of recruitment and hiring procedures, as well as careful examination of what skills will be required as the business continues to expand and evolve. In this respect, Rosa Greenwood, director of human resources for Shure Incorporated, which specialises in producing microphones and audio products, has concentrated on creating a "basket of talent". "The HR department serves as the foundation for the whole talent strategy," she says, adding that this contains seven distinct elements. These cover organisational development, talent acquisition, succession planning, coaching, rewards, leadership skills and associate development. Ms Greenwood explains that each element is important and ties in with the company's overall business vision. The objective is to have streamlined processes which start with recruiting the right talent and lead to the grooming of individuals for key management roles. She notes that Shure is a privately-owned company headquartered in Chicago, and celebrated its 80th anniversary earlier this year. It has manufacturing plants in Mexico, the US and Suzhou, plus a sales and marketing office in Shanghai. The company's Hong Kong office was established in 1999. One of the core corporate values recognises the importance of giving employees the best possible training. "We provide learning opportunities for staff at different levels, which helps create our own employment brand. We want to reinforce our values and company culture," Ms Greenwood says. New hires therefore receive orientation, computer training and detailed instruction about all the main product lines. They are also taught about cultural differences within the work environment, something which is taking on added significance as the company presses ahead with plans to expand in the mainland market. We now have many associates actively referring candidates for our consideration Fitting in "We are creating a buddy system and plan on inviting all new recruits to meet the vice president, as this will make them feel part of the company," Ms Greenwood says. The HR department is responsible for coordinating training programmes and makes use of the active involvement of other managers and associates, who can be guaranteed to know the business inside out. Creating team spirit is seen as a priority and, with this in mind, employees based in the company's US offices are now being given the chance to study Chinese during their lunch hours to bring them closer to their colleagues working in Asia. Ms Greenwood recognises that cultural differences will always exist within an international company, but suggests they can be turned to advantage and used to strengthen the business. "In general, I think Asians work at a faster pace, plan ahead and are more inclined to take risks," she says. Shure has hired about 160 frontline staff for the operations in Suzhou in less than a year because production lines were moved there from Mexico and the US. "We are going to have a much bigger Asian presence in future, " Ms Greenwood adds. "It is not easy to find top talent since our industry is very technical, but we have been lucky to find good frontline workers in Suzhou." Competitive packages A special focus on retention issues has helped to keep staff turnover to a minimum. The key to this has been giving due recognition for good performance and offering very fair remuneration packages. Benefits are designed to be competitive with those offered by similar companies in the industry, and salary levels are benchmarked on a regular basis. "Increases are usually above the market average but are also performance-related," Ms Greenwood says. When filling vacancies, the company encourages staff to refer family members or friends who are suitably qualified to apply online via a web link. If someone is subsequently hired, the person who gave the referral receives a reward and is also entered in a lucky draw with the chance of winning a substantial cash prize. "We now have many associates actively referring candidates for our consideration," says Ms Greenwood, who has been with Shure for seven years. One of the company's short-term targets is to increase market share for its earphone products. "Unlike our core products such as microphones which only reach a more specialist group of clients, we want to sell our earphones to the general public and build a broader customer base," Ms Greenwood explains. "We want to create a new benchmark and have more customers recognise our products." Salient points Comprehensive strategy in place to recruit and develop the talent needed for future business growth Training programme is closely linked to the company's overall corporate vision In-depth product training and a buddy system help new recruits to settle in more quickly Staff turnover is kept to a minimum by rewarding good performance and giving due recognition Expansion in Asia has included the transfer of production lines from Mexico and the US to Suzhou Employees are encouraged to refer family and friends for any vacancies Taken from Career Times 23 December 2005, p. A12 Your comments are welcome at [email protected]
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