Canada experiences a global phenomenon: Aging workforce creates talent gaps

by Profiles Global 2. February 2011 17:38

Global Survey of 4,741 Executives in 83 Countries, Conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations, Identifies HR Priorities of Today and the Future

(TORONTO, ON - May 28, 2008) Managing talent is the most critical human resources (HR) challenge worldwide and will remain at or near the top of executive agendas in every region and industry for the foreseeable future, according to a new global study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations (WFPMA)/Canadian Council of Human Resources Associations (CCHRA). Key findings of the report, Creating People Advantage: How to Address HR Challenges Worldwide Through 2015, are being released in Canada today.

The study, which is based on a global survey of 4,741 executives in 83 countries, found that managers also rated improving leadership development and managing work-life balance as urgent priorities. The report provides rankings and analyses of 17 HR challenges in seven major regions of the world and suggests specific actions to address those issues.

"Our workforce is aging, and demand for talent is increasing. Finding talented, future leaders has become more difficult than raising financing," said Kilian Berz, Canadian Organization Practice Leader and managing director of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). "Many Canadian companies serve global clients, but their leaders have limited global experience. It is critical to re-evaluate how to recruit." He adds, "This is also a big challenge for our own business." This will place exceptional pressure on the financial services, consumer goods and energy sectors.




HR | human resources | talent management

Managing Talent Gaps: How to Create a Succession Plan That Works

by Regan McPhee 2. February 2011 17:32

Age. We all do it. First we’re young and then, sometimes without realizing it, we get old. And if our businesses have an employee population that gets old without our realizing it, we’re going to be left with talent gaps that could, potentially, ruin us.


While I realize that sounds rather alarmist in nature, it is actually true. Failing to have a workable succession plan for senior positions within our organizations can, according to, “undermine an organization’s effectiveness and sustainability.”


And the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations (WFPMA) conducted a 2007 study that determined that by 2015, or earlier, over 78 per cent of Canadian companies “will be offering flexible employment options to attract or retain semi-retired or retired employees.”


Yet creating a succession plan to ensure the senior positions vacated by these retiring employees are filled by qualified candidates is not that difficult. Time consuming, yes. Requiring a commitment from senior management, yes. But not that difficult.


The Tata Group, the largest conglomerate in India with 114 companies and subsidiaries and 280,000 employees as of July 2007, develops their potential succession candidates using the following formula:


10% training courses + 20% interaction with people + 70% challenging jobs


This obviously successful formula echoes the four succession strategy groups listed in 2005 by the US Office of Personnel Management at, which are:




  1. Development and Learning Strategies


Once you have determined which employees are potential candidates for succession, it is important to increase the scope of their current position. It’s also important to include these individuals in projects that require them to learn new skills.


Another key to developing succession candidates is to involve them in formal educational and leadership training courses, as well as giving them opportunities to observe senior leaders during strategic meetings and significant organizational actions.


  1. Feedback Strategies


The use of assessments during succession planning can be extremely helpful. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, DISC and 360 are just some of the tools that can be used to help candidates, and the organization, better understand the core competencies of each individual candidate.


Coaches and mentors are vital to guaranteeing a succession plan, and the candidates chosen to be a part of it, is successful. They enable a candidate to learn, firsthand and through continuous appraisal, where and how they need to improve in order to move up in the company and be effective when they get there.


  1. Retention Strategies

        Choosing potential succession candidates tends to be easy when you compare it to actually retaining the candidates after they have been

        chosen. In order to keep top-performers, it is absolutely necessary to have retention bonuses and incentives, as well as recognition systems

        (appropriate to the needs and motivators of each employee) in place.


Another way to ensure you retain your top-performers is to develop work-life balance programs, such as telecommuting, childcare, fitness programs and shared or alternative work schedules.


  1. Recruitment Strategies

Recruitment strategies are also an important part of successful succession planning, as many times appropriate succession candidates can’t be found within the organization.


To guarantee your company hires the most talented individuals available establish recruitment bonuses and incentives. Another way of guaranteeing you bring in the top talent is to offer relocation bonuses and accurate branding of your company.


So while the media may have us believing we can stop the aging process, the sad fact is we’re all going to age no matter how hard we try to stop it. And that means our senior employees are, some day, going to retire whether we’re ready for it or not.


Therefore save yourselves, and your company, a lot of headaches and create a workable succession plan now. Not only will your organization be more effective, you may also slow your own aging-process down by avoiding the stress of trying to find quick replacements for senior managers who retire ‘out of the blue’.



HR | human resources | talent management

Three Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

by Regan McPhee 27. November 2010 00:17

Hiring a new employee is expensive. It’s not just the newbie’s salary that will deplete the company’s coffers; it’s also the recruitment and training costs, employee benefits and taxes, and equipment, administration and space. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars just to get someone into that one empty seat.


But we know all that. The cost of a new hire is old news. So why do we keep making the same, all too common mistakes when looking for that new employee? And how can we avoid making them in the future?


The first mistake many of us make, hiring based on perceived background, is an easy habit to fall into, but thankfully it is an even easier fix. According to a 2004 study by Higgins and Judge, in the Journal of Applied Psychology, potential employees often use two particular tactics to advance their cause during an interview: ingratiation and self-promotion.


While employers are usually prepared for – and regularly bring into play – a prospective worker’s self-promotion (highlighting positive attributes while minimizing flaws), attempts at ingratiation (agreeing with the recruiter’s opinions, offering to do favours, etc.) frequently go undetected.


And the reason we tend to fail to notice a future employee’s efforts to ingratiate themselves with us is because of the similarity-attraction theory put forth by D. Byrne in 1969. Basically, we tend to be more attracted to people with whom we have something in common.


Therefore, when we are talking to a candidate and they say that they also like working for a small company or that they dislike the way a certain organization is run, just like we do, then we often perceive that candidate as having a similar background to our own, with many parallel values and viewpoints. We can then become so attracted to that particular candidate that we overlook other, more suitable applicants.


So take the blinders off. During the hiring process, always keep in mind a potential employee’s likely use of ingratiation and self-promotion techniques.


Which leads us to our second mistake when hiring: using the interview as the sole evaluation of a candidate.


How many of us have done this?! We sometimes think the interview process is the be all and end all of recruiting. It’s fairly quick, easy and, most importantly, cheap. We don’t have to spend time or money calling references, running background checks and buying psychometric tools.


But in the long run, relying solely on the interview to determine a candidate’s suitability for a specific role within our organization will cost us big, BIG bucks – once we realize we hired the wrong person and we have to start the process all over again.


In fact, according to a study conducted by Hunter and Hunter, at the University of Michigan, the ordinary interview boosts our chances of choosing the best applicant by less than two per cent. And, no, you didn’t read that wrong. Flipping a coin is almost as effective at picking a successful employee as the basic interview process.


To increase your odds of hiring the right person for the job the first time around make sure you do the following.



Structure the interview. Have the questions prepared beforehand and decide what the ideal answers to those questions would be. You may even want to develop a sliding scale of scores for potential answers.

Have the hiring manager check the candidates’ references. And pay attention to more than just the words of the candidates’ past employers. If there is a pause (or, for that matter, a notable lack of enthusiasm) before an ex-manager answers the question, “Would you rehire Bob if given the chance,” you may want to think twice before printing out an employment contract.

Check the applicants’ backgrounds (this speaks to mistake one and two). Lots of people fudge their resumes to give themselves a leg up when job-hunting, so it’s our responsibility to make sure the information they’ve given us is accurate. ( is one good resource. 

Consider using a psychometric tool(s) to help learn more about potential employees. In a 1989 study in Personnel Psychology, Day and Silverman said that, “…even with the effects of cognitive ability taken into account, three personality scales (orientation towards work; degree of ascendancy; and degree and quality of interpersonal orientation) are significantly related to important aspects of job performance.” MBTI, EQI and DISC are just three of the tools that can help you make the best hiring decision possible.




Which brings us to hiring mistake number three: assuming everyone defines the needs of the position to be filled in the same way. And what happens when we assume? It may be trite, but that doesn’t make it any less true: we make an ass out of u and me. Plus, we could end up losing a lot of money when the individual we hired based on our assessment of the role’s needs is unable to fulfill the actual needs of the position.


While the 2010 IBM Global Chief Human Resource Officer Study (Working Beyond Borders) may not have been speaking directly to the hiring process when they mentioned “capitalizing on collective intelligence” as one of the three capabilities needed to advance an organization, it actually explains perfectly how to fix this particular hiring mistake. We need to begin “fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing” in order to be more effective recruiters.


But how does knowledge sharing and collaboration make for a better hiring choice?


Collaboration enables us to determine the needs of a particular position objectively. By gathering information about the role’s demands from a variety of individuals who will be working closely with the new employee, rather than just taking it on faith from the hiring manager or the HR manager about the needs of the position, we get a more detailed and accurate view of what the job looks like.


Creating a behavioural benchmark for the position is one key way to gather this information successfully. By asking the new employee’s manager, colleagues and clients to complete a brief questionnaire about the behavioural needs of the job we can get a clearer picture of the functions and responsibilities of the role – some we may never have thought of on our own.


And when the group comes together to discuss their responses to the questionnaire, the lines of communication open up and a true dialogue about the requirements of the role can begin. What we end up with is a yardstick with which to measure our applicants, making it easier to create a shortlist of the best candidates.


Can we make perfect hiring choices every time? Nope. But by being aware of these three particular pratfalls and heeding the advice within, we may just be able to keep our hiring mistakes to a minimum.

Nothing to Fear: Tests and Assessments That Help Rather Than Hurt

by Regan McPhee 27. November 2010 00:14

Tests scare people. They imply that there is a right answer and a wrong answer. But some tests, or should I say assessments, have no right or wrong answers. They are merely explanations and clarifications that should enlighten us. They are nothing to fear.


However, in the past, many employers used these assessments to gather information they then used against their employees, rather than using it to support their employees’ growth, unfairly giving psychometric tools their frightful reputation.


But in fact, the most commonly used assessments worldwide (DISC; Myers Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI; Emotional Quotient Inventory – EQI; and Predictive Index – PI) were created as self-development tools and when they are used correctly, they can enhance our business’ ability to function.


Furthermore, according to research begun in 2008 by Hewitt Associates, a human resource consulting and outsourcing company, employee morale and connectedness is down for most companies due to anxiety, insecurity and turmoil brought on by the recent economic downturn.


 But as Ted Marusarz, the leader of Global Engagement and Culture at Hewitt, says in a July 29th, 2010 Business Wire article, insight into the motivation of employee behaviour is essential for achieving organizational success during good times and bad.


To appreciate the benefits of these tools, we must first understand what they measure and what they don’t. We need to understand what they can and cannot do. And, finally, we need to understand how they should be used and how they can be abused.


Take, as an example, the DISC assessment. It measures behavioural patterns. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.


DISC doesn’t measure intelligence or ‘abnormal’ behaviour or past experiences. It can’t tell us what a person’s ideals are or about their educational background. What DISC can tell us are the behaviours a person prefers to use while they are at work.


And because DISC enables us to learn the behavioural preferences of our employees, and therefore their preferred style of interaction (soft-sell versus hard-sell; detailed versus an overview), it is an excellent tool to improve communication within our organizations.


It allows us to communicate more clearly and concisely and in a way that lessens misunderstandings and potentially hurt feelings.


Yet in addition to aiding clear communication, DISC can help determine what behaviours are necessary for the successful completion of a specific task and hiring the right person for the job.


But DISC should never be used as the sole reason for hiring someone.


When using DISC, or any psychometric tool, to aid in a hiring decision, the results of the assessment should not make up more than 10 per cent of the decision making process. We must also consider the interview, the resume, the references and even our intuition when hiring a new employee.


And if we use DISC to justify firing an employee we are misusing the tool. It should never be used to phase out an individual. If anything, DISC is an ideal tool to help adapt the position so it better suits the person performing the job.


Finally, DISC findings should never be used against someone. It is meant to celebrate the unique behavioural style of each employee and what those behavioural strengths bring to our organizations.


So take the next step. Ease the minds of your staff and learn for yourself the advantages of DISC and how to incorporate it into your organization’s daily functions. Re-engage your employees. Show them they are an integral part of your business and give them the education and support they need to grow right along with the organization.


Because tests don’t have to be scary and DISC, when used properly, can help ensure that you have the diversity - and the knowledge to manage that diversity - to succeed.

Using DISC to Create a More Effective Team

by Profiles Global 22. November 2010 07:14

Very few of us work alone. At some time or another we are asked to work with others, as part of a cohesive team. And usually these teams are thrown together, with very little thought given to the dynamics of the group.


But putting people to work together on a task, based on no more than “Stephen is the best with clients” and “Tricia is the best speaking in front of a crowd” isn’t going to garner the best results. That’s like tapping all the best Canadian hockey players to represent us in the Olympics. More often than not it just doesn’t work. We end up with too many stars on the ice fighting for the puck and not enough players taking the time to set up the plays.


There needs to be a balance of talents in order for any team to get the job done well. That means a balance between leaders and followers; big picture thinkers and detail oriented workers; people-focused and task-focused team players; and innovators and standard bearers. In other words, we usually need a bit of everything. More importantly, we need to understand and appreciate the varying strengths of our teammates in order for our team to be truly successful.


Of course it’s easier to work with people who share our behavioural preferences. Few things are as frustrating as, say, working with a colleague who likes to ‘bend’ the rules, when we adhere to them like glue. Yet, there are times when rules should be broken, when the old way of doing things is no longer getting the job done. In those instances, we need the rule breakers to open our eyes to new possibilities. Just like we need people to tell us when we’re ‘fixing’ something that isn’t broken.


And that is where a behavioural assessment like DISC could, and maybe even should, come into play. By determining the objective and the behavioural needs of the project first (by completing a behavioural benchmark), and assigning people to the team second (based on the results of their individual behavioural assessments and comparing it to the needs identified through the benchmark), we’re much more likely to reach our goal successfully and with fewer set-backs.


Again, to ensure our team is a success, it is also important that the people chosen to be a part of the project team understand and appreciate the different strengths of the other team members. By sharing the behavioural needs of the project with the team, and explaining where each team member fits into the equation (which behavioural needs each person is fulfilling), we are helping to guarantee the success of the project.


So here is the process for creating a project behavioural benchmark and selecting appropriate members for the project team:


Step 1 –

The project manager completes The Position Analysis form, keeping in mind the purpose of the project, to create a behavioural benchmark. It is important to have at least two other individuals who are cognizant of the project complete the Position Analysis as well. The key consideration to keep in mind when answering each question is: "How critical is this statement in the day-to-day performance of the team who will fill the position?"

Sample questions from the questionnaire:

·  The Ability to Deal with New and Varied People (Influence)

Having the ease to meet and interact confidently with new and often varied people in an outgoing and active manner.  The "stranger's" could be within one's own company e.g. employees from another division and at a different location.

Very Low




Very High


Step 2 –

The individuals who completed the Position Analysis then discuss their results to achieve a consensus. (It is important that each person filling out The Position Analysis does so independently and then gathers for the consensus meeting). As a result of this meeting, a project benchmark is established, which can then be used to determine which workers would be best suited to fulfil the project’s objectives.


Step 3 –

The project manager then compares Graph III from the Person Analyses (How you see yourself) of the potential team members to the established benchmark, determining which workers are best suited to fulfil the project’s objectives.


DISC | human resources | talent management