Following the launch of BoF Careers’ white paper, Crafting an Emerging Talent Strategy, contributing experts Jennifer Jordan, professor of leadership and organisational behaviour at IMD, and Lance LaVergne, chief diversity officer and senior VP of global talent acquisition at PVH, shared their insights with the BoF Careers community in a #BoFLIVE event.
The conversation included tips on how organisations can create reverse mentorship programmes and develop participation criteria to drive the success of shadow boards, as well as learnings for managers on how to support and platform their junior employees. Below, BoF Careers shares key insights from the event.
Embed Shadow Boards into D&I Strategies
LL: [Shadow boards are] a way to accelerate [junior talent’s] integration into the organisation, give them visibility and interaction that can then accelerate their development and advancement. [It’s] the ability to bring in different voices particularly when they are not represented in the workforce demographic of the teams or groups that are making decisions about things. Trying to get to as objective an approach as possible is critical because then you do eliminate a lot of the bias that shows up in our decision-making and our processes.
JJ: I would strongly recommend not just picking your identified top talent to be members of a shadow board or any advisory group. [One company I surveyed found] the people that were not on a talent pool list actually outperformed those who were in the assessment centre. Talent tend to be people that look and act like us and come from the same background. When you give that opportunity to people that might not be classically seen as talent, you might even get a better and more rich shadow board to work with the executive team.
Prioritise Reverse Mentorship at Leadership Level
JJ: One of the most important factors we found for sustaining good reverse mentor relationships was the priority that the executives put on these relationships. We found, if the more senior member [was being] mentored, if they cancelled more than two appointments consecutively, the relationships just fell apart. Within six months, there was no mentorship going on anymore. So, the tone from the top is that the executives are invested in it, but also to create a community for the mentors lower down the hierarchy.
LL: When you’re a senior person, you sometimes operate under this notion that you don’t want to be vulnerable or show any weakness. If I can pair you up with somebody where you can ask those questions and make the missteps and educate yourself on a different perspective that you don’t normally get [like diversity, digitisation or sustainability], the benefit is tremendous. Reverse mentoring programmes, when done effectively, can add a lot of value to an organisation.
Nurture Juniors Objectively and Transparently
LL: You have to be clear on what are the objectives or the outcomes that you’re hoping to see [in the managerial relationship]. That’s the ‘what’ of the work, but it’s the ‘how’ that becomes the issue and that’s negotiable. As long as you’re both clear on the deliverables, you can negotiate how we get there, but it’s the ability to have that dialogue in that conversation with your manager that is important. Organisations have to understand that and be willing to accommodate that [...] if the organisations are truly interested in acquiring, developing, nurturing and retaining talent.
JJ: Communication is not just what you say — what comes out of your mouth or even non-verbal — but just listening. [...] When you can listen or ask questions [...] to understand what is really the root of that anxiety or the root of the resistance, you can start to work with that and say, “Okay, you’re afraid or worried that, if I work from home or work at different hours, I’m not gonna be able to collaborate with the team at the same level.”