Need to know: knowledge is key

Study three key producers in your organisation

Imagine that you are inducting a new group of graduates into the HR department and that this is one of the exercises they need to do. Before you lead the session, it would be well worth testing your own knowledge in this area. This provides the extra advantage of finding out what knowledge you think you have, what knowledge you need, and how you can fill the gaps.

Start by writing down the names of three top producers (if the company doesn’t make products, these could be key relationship managers, or if you operate in the public or not-for-profit sectors they might be key influencers or stakeholders).

Next, write down everything you know about the producer:

  • What is their product?

  • How long have they worked on it?

  • Why are they so good at what they do?

  • How long have they been with the company?

  • What is their history with the company?

  • How did they get to the position they hold?

  • Where are they on the talent grid?

  • What is their next move in the organisation?

  • Who is their successor likely to be?

  • Obviously they will be good at their particular relationship or product, but is there anything that should be improved – what are their development goals?

Thinking through these questions will help you to discover what you don’t know as well as what you do know, and this can lead you to think about how you might be able to find out more. What is your relationship with these people like: is it what it should be? If not, think about how you could get to know these key producers better. Having done this, think about what strategic questions it raises for you, and what actions you might want to take as a result.

When one of your bright young graduates asks why, as a future HR person, they would need to know this information, give some thought to your answer. What advantages can this knowledge give you in your career?

Lastly, consider the insight that knowing about the career history of the company’s key producers might give you into how to develop other people in those roles. Consider how the methods used in developing these key people can be applied to bringing forward other high achievers in your organisation.

by Jan Hills, partner, Orion Partners

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