Andy Lothian: The power of community

Disruptive technologies are changing the way organisations operate. But what role should HR have when it comes to talent management in this context of constant change? In this interview Andy Lothian, CEO of the Insights Group, shares the latest insights in talent management programmes, ‘HiPos’ and the inescapable power of community.

What is your vision on talent management?

In a world where we’re experiencing unprecedented levels of social, political and technological disruption, the importance we place on humanity is paramount.

What is wrong with the way a lot of companies nowadays still practise talent management in their companies?

The most common mistakes I observe in professional development practices are:

• Considering professional development as a ‘nice to have’ or a ‘one-time thing’
• Upskilling for role-based competencies, rather than building overall competencies like resilience, adaptability and flexibility.

What is the best way for HR to approach talent management?

Soft skills are as important as qualifications and experience. Recruit, develop and promote for human skills, such as resilience, creativity, compassion and communication. Create an environment that will allow individuals to bring the best of themselves without fear. For example, in one global organisation, a culture of fear stood in the way of the necessary considered risk-taking that would navigate the transition. The CEO was clear that: ‘If we are supported to take risks, where’s the risk?’, but also that embedding a clear focus on purpose, collaboration and support for thoughtful experimentation and active leadership in a dynamic learning environment would lead to a new, positive culture post-merger.

How would you advise HR Directors who want to improve their talent management programmes?

If you find someone with those great human skills of curiosity, empathy, speaking truth to power, and who has a desire to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, don’t get distracted by their CV or experience – hire them!

What is the relationship between individual talent on one side, and teamwork on the other?

You can recruit someone of immense talent and broad experience, but if they have no self-awareness or their human skills are lacking, they won’t be able to connect with colleagues and have the impact they would have wished for.

How can HR recognise the talents of so called HiPos in their organisation?

Define the criteria that represent the needed human skills in your organisational context – the leadership style, resilience, creativity, team ethos, kindness, collaboration and communication. Engage and communicate these with the leaders and managers in your organisation and help them find those who have either the current capability or capacity to develop them. Build your HiPo programme by building the culture that values and appreciates those attributes.

How can HR create teams that truly collaborate and work together?

Teams comprised of people with high levels of self-awareness and human skills, including the ability to adapt, connect and communicate, will be able to navigate any challenges.

When a team obviously doesn’t work together in a good and profitable way, how can HR find the cause and fix the problem?

Once people understand themselves and understand others, almost every ‘challenge’ can be resolved. That’s why every single Insights journey begins with self-awareness, then leads on to building awareness of those around you.

With which new insights will the HR Live Mainstage visitors leave your presentation? That change is constant, and greater change is coming. To successfully navigate our way through this change, we must remember what makes us human.

Andy Lothian is CEO of the Insights Group and co-founder of Insights Learning and Development. One of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs and businessmen, he was awarded Scottish Entrepreneur of the Year (EY, 2016) and has been recognised for his Outstanding Contribution to Scottish HR (HR Network, 2017).

Insights is a global people development company and partner of HR Live 2019. Check the complete programme of Mainstage HR here