Ram Charan

McGraw Hill, 2009

Purchase here (http://www.amazon.ca/Leadership-Era-Economic-Uncertainty-Managing/dp/0071626166)


Ram Charan’s hard punching guide to survival focuses on one word and that is “cash, cash and cash”. He rightly points out that this global economic crisis is the biggest management challenge in decades and that most people don’t know how to deal with it.

Each chapter suggests practical guidance and includes such tips as pursuing every source of cash possible, being prepared to make the tough decisions and to aggressively practice the new mantra of “head in-hands on”. The book is well written, examples are very current and the advice very practical. Charan’s book is not just for the CEO, but is a must read for managers at all levels of the organization.


By: Barbara Bowes


What do you do when your organizational career ladder is no longer pointed upward? What can you do when you have downsized, right-sized and restructured to such an extent employees are confused about possible opportunities? What can you do when employees tend to flee from your organization first and ask questions later?

Today, organizational and human-resource leaders need to take on a new view of career management. They need to develop a partnership with their employees, working jointly toward building skills that can benefit the organization as well as the employee in the long term, no matter whether the employee remains with the organization.

Leaders need to know that employee training is an investment rather than a flight risk.

Finally, a new reinvigorated view of career management will give leaders an opportunity to take a holistic view of all their organizational roles, the skills required within the larger workflow and to identify unexpected career opportunities.

At the same time, a holistic approach to career management gives leaders an opportunity to identify the multitude of skills that exist among their employees.

And believe me, leaders are often surprised at the level of employee talent the organization was not aware of and therefore was not being fully utilized.

The following ideas will assist you to take a career management point of view within your organization.


  • Conduct a job-analysis process: While job descriptions have long been a standard HR tool, most do not describe the skills and talents required for each job. Take time now to review the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies required for each job structure in your organization. Use this data to determine both current gaps, future risks in the various skill areas and opportunities for development.
  • Develop a master chart of job families: List the job skills in chart form, look for common skills and competencies that could be transferred to various jobs within your organization and highlight them. Group similar skills into job families and determine what additional skills would enable more employees to cross-train in other jobs within the families. Create a total organizational framework that outlines the functions, the job families and the different levels in each.
  • Publish a competency dictionary: Each job has a set of core competencies as well as technical competencies at different levels of expertise. Create a competency dictionary and make it public. This helps employees to see the progression of skills and where they can be applied. This can also provide an awareness of what training might be required to progress toward a particular goal.
  • Map out career opportunities: Develop a strategic map of opportunities and demonstrate how one job can lead to another. This is helpful for employees as they try to envision a career path. Colour-code skill similarities so employees can clearly see opportunities that might exist upward, downward and sideways.
  • Conduct an employee-skills assessment: Organizations rarely conduct a complete survey of all the skills and talent found within the employee complement. Now is the time. At the very simple level, employees could complete a skills-inventory checklist or one could be acquired through interviews or a review of performance appraisal forms. Be sure to inquire about skills used outside work in hobbies or community work. These skills can often lead to new careers.
  • Develop a career-management philosophy: Work with all of your managers to ensure they understand and adopt the philosophy that career management is an investment in employees. Help to overcome the old fear philosophy of “train them and they will leave.” Focus on developing a partnership between employee and employer and create ideas on how this can be applied in your organization.
  • Provide career-management training for employees: Develop a training program that helps employees understand personal success isn’t always an upward progression. Help them to gain a sense of personal control by becoming more aware of workplace trends and the need for continuous learning. Help employees identify their passion, talents and motivators and discover how best to align their personal traits and career goals with the vision and objectives of the organization.
  • Offer career resources: While not all organizations are of the size to offer a career resource centre, leaders can provide resource lists, a library of books and/or refer employees to private coaching with a career consultant. This is especially effective for individuals who are struggling to identify skills and motivators because most people take themselves for granted.
  • Apply innovative strategies: No matter how small, an organization can offer some strategies to help their employees explore careers. Assign a personal career mentor, create brief job-shadowing opportunities by pairing employees with colleagues or managers for various periods of time so employees can get a feel for other jobs they may be interested in. Finally, the simple tactic of supporting time for informational interviews works well.
  • Incorporate careers into performance management: It’s well-known individual employees rarely set aside time for their own career development, so it is important both for individuals as well as for organizational planning to include this in the annual performance review.

Work with the employee to determine training and career goals and set a plan in place. Keep in mind your organizational needs.

Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly Bowes Knows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at barb@legacybowes.com. Learn more at www.barbarabowes.com.


The mass exodus of baby boomers has been on the minds of business leaders for quite some time. While the exodus hasn’t happened as quickly as first thought, the transition is indeed beginning to make its mark. The situation as it’s now developing will create a significant dilemma for all types of corporations and organizations in general.


The dilemma is twofold: first, it is well known that the incoming new generation of leaders (typically aged 35-49) does not have the skills or experience of more senior leaders. While this to be expected, recent research conducted by i4cp, a Florida based research firm, identified these younger generation leaders were lacking skills in five critical leadership areas. This included critical thinking, the ability to create a vision and engage others, the ability to collaborate with other areas of a business and manage change, overall leadership and understanding how the different business sectors needed to work together.

Secondly, my own professional experience suggests younger leaders have higher expectations with respect to salary and compensation. They are also more demanding with respect to perks and other benefits such as vacation, vehicles, flexibility and executive education. As well, many young people are impatient, relying too much on their graduate education instead of being willing to engage in a longer apprenticeship type of career model. In other words, they want to leapfrog up the career ladder and, if opportunities are not found in their current employment, they won’t think twice about moving to another firm.


Where does this situation leave our current business leaders, especially since it’s well known that a large percentage have no succession planning strategies in place? What solutions would help to rectify this situation? I believe that working with an external expert and undertaking the following strategies would provide significant benefit to your organization.


1. Demographic survey – conduct a survey of all your employees with respect to their age demographics as well as the skills required for each job.


2. Map your situation – develop a risk management chart for each and every job in your organization and identify at least two individuals who could move into each job along with their potential timeframe. Confirm gaps and risks.

3. Identify training needs – prioritize those jobs which are crucial to the ongoing success of your organization, identify the competencies and training required for a successor and create a career development plan.


4. Identify potential internal talent – while good job performance may be evident, undertake a series of psychometric assessments to identify individuals who have the skills in the five critical areas mentioned above. Being a strategic and visionary thinker is a unique skill and, if you don’t have this skill within your organization, you will have to bring in an external candidate.


5. Map your candidate pool – once you have completed your assessments, create a map of your talent pool. This will enable you to determine short and long-term gaps and create a development plan for each individual. Invest in your people.


6. Link competencies to a strategic business plan – after the competencies have been developed for each job role, compare and contrast them to each of the strategic business goals. Determine which of the competencies will be the drivers to move you forward and then assess your strengths and weaknesses for each.


7. Confirm organizational values – while the younger generation might want higher compensation, most in my experience seek better life/work balance than their parents. Take time to examine your organizational values and workplace philosophy. Determine what would attract new employees, what would set you aside from your competitors and utilize these elements in your recruitment strategies.


8. Develop a recruitment strategy – finding the right candidate with the right skills at the right time and getting the cultural fit just right is not as easy as it looks. Most high caliber candidates are happy in their current work and are not on the job hunt. They need to be tapped on the shoulder and invited to look at your opportunity. Many times this must be done on a highly confidential basis.


As a seasoned executive search professional, I am now seeing many organizations moving into panic mode as their employees begin sharing their retirement plans, sometimes three at a time.


Effective planning and a view to the future will prevent this type of organizational risk.