The Four "I’s" of Talent Management

Intellectual skills, integrity, intensity, and interpersonal savvy are all prized in finance staffers — but not necessarily in that order, according to a panel of CFOs.

Nolop: What are you doing differently in talent development as a result of the economic environment?

Frank Boykin, CFO, Mohawk Industries: People are working harder, and there are certainly those who are concerned about the future. So we’ve put more focus on communicating. The more they hear about what’s going on, whether it’s good or bad, helps the organization. Within the finance group, we’ve started quarterly town-hall conference calls with group members across the world.

Lange: Whenever there’s change, there’s a predictable curve that people fall on. And there are four buckets on that curve. You’re either an innovator, an early adopter, a late adopter, or a resister. I say to my team that no one can tell you which one to be. You actually get to choose. And here are the kind of opportunities available for innovators and early adopters, while late adopters and resisters can end up hurting not only the company but [also] their own career prospects.

People are naturally inclined in tough times to focus on the short-term threat. As leaders, we can instead help them look at the long-term vision and give them something to hope for.

Nolop: To what extent are decisions on your organizational structure influenced by your talent-management objectives?

Khouzami: Everyone talks about succession planning and having one or two people who could come in the next day and potentially replace you or people on your team. But say I have a manager who’s very good and probably ready to be a director. If I just make him a director, I have two directors where I really need a manager and a director. The result of that is you get very top-heavy. And if you start filling in the bottom, before long you have a fat organization again.

To keep key people in the organization and engaged, you have to move them around to the different areas of finance, and even potentially outside of finance, like operations or the front office.

LeClair: A lot of people make the mistake of trying to normalize job descriptions, compensation skills, or titles on a peer-to-peer basis, as opposed to doing more customization for the individual to allow for a certain level of creativity, to allow for a uniqueness as the roles change. Spending a lot of time trying to make neighbors consistent with one another is not always the right strategy.

Boykin: Career progression and succession are a key focal point for our finance organization right now. But it’s not my job to develop an individual career path for any particular person. It is my job to make sure we’ve adequately explained the opportunities, made them available to people, and ensured that they understood where they could go and what they needed to do to succeed.

One of my divisional CFOs, who is very talented, became vice president of sales. You don’t often see that. Another person, who was in charge of financial planning and analysis, moved into operations and is now running two large plants. I think that’s great public relations for finance.

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