The Unwritten Rules


Management Talent Shortfall Will Become Acute as Economy Strengthens; HR Needs to Provide Targeted Tools and Expertise, According to John Beeson, Talent Management Expert and Author of The Unwritten Rules

NEW YORK CITY (February 9, 2011) – Frustration about the lack of leadership talent is mounting on all sides. Most senior HR leaders believe their core role is to help the organization develop the next generation of senior leaders, yet the great majority of organizations bemoan a dearth of emerging management talent. HR people tend to blame senior management for this, saying commitment to talent development is too weak to support HR's best efforts, observes John Beeson, succession planning and organizational development expert and Principal of Beeson Consulting.

"In reality, there's more than enough blame to go around. Rather than curse the darkness, HR leaders should examine their own practices to ensure they're doing their part in providing the expertise and tools required for talent development to meet the impending need," said Mr. Beeson, author of The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level (Jossey-Bass, October 2010).

There are steps HR leaders can take and approaches they can adopt to move the bar in terms of top-level talent development. According to Mr. Beeson, they can . . .

Integrate talent acquisition and the internal development of talent.

Most companies view recruiting as a separate activity from succession planning and the internal development of talent. In those companies, talent development is about identifying and developing future leaders while recruiting focuses on filling jobs. "The top talent management companies recognize that these two activities are interrelated and must work together to achieve the same goal: developing current and future leadership talent. As a result they view every outside search as a chance to add to the organization's leadership ‘gene pool,'" said Mr. Beeson.

Clarify the core selection factors that are really used to make executive-level promotion and placement decisions.

Too often, HR's leadership competency models are fuzzy and all-encompassing. These models lose credibility when managers see people promoted to the executive level with noticeable gaps. This lack of clarity about the core selection factors used for executive promotion decisions impedes managers' ability to take control of their own career development.

Ensure that aspiring executives receive "the feedback that really counts."

Upwardly-aspiring managers are often in the dark about how they are viewed by key decision-makers and how they stack up against their company's core selection factors. In the absence of this feedback, it's difficult for them to know where to devote time and effort to their development. "Many companies espouse the belief that the individual should take ownership of his or her career development—and rightly so," said Mr. Beeson. "However, without receiving candid and constructive feedback, a manager is ill-equipped to do so."

Introduce processes to move potential future leaders into new "stretch" assignments.

Critical senior-level skills, like strategic thinking and working with others to get things done across organizational boundaries, require a breadth of perspective—about the industry, the business and the organization. Many HR leaders criticize "silo"-based development where a manager moves up a functional ladder or stays within the same business unit. The result most often is a manager who lacks the range of skills required to succeed at the executive level. HR can help address this by designing the mechanisms required to foster cross-functional and cross-business moves that help future leaders develop the necessary breadth of perspective.

To schedule a conversation with John Beeson or for more information, please contact Frank Lentini of Sommerfield Communications at 212-255-8386 or

About Beeson Consulting, Inc.

Founded in 1998, Beeson Consulting provides management consulting services to some of the largest, most respected companies in the world. Services include succession planning, top-talent development, executive assessment, organization design and executive coaching. For each client, the firm brings to bear best-practice expertise; practical, action-oriented solutions; and a consultative, customized approach. All Beeson consultants have a combination of corporate and consulting experience.

Learn more about Beeson Consulting, Inc.

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