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Talent Management Clean House – Greg Brenneman Houston Growth Summit

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Tue, May 10, 2011

Here’s a quick list of speakers today at the Fortune Leadership Growth Summit in Houston:

I’ll get to all of them and their messages in the weeks ahead.   Greg Brenneman’s message tied closely to my last blog Run, Improve or Create Systems. Selecting the Right People.  Greg provided five lessons for managing in a slow growth uncertain environment. 

  1. Build a Fortress Balance Sheet.
  2. Have a plan.
  3. Think Money In, Not Money Out.
  4. Clean House.
  5. Let the Inmates Run the Asylum.

More details on all of these in another blog.  For this short blog I’ll focus on #4.  Greg recommends investing half your time as CEO on talent management, with at least 33% of your time coaching your “A” team.  Brenneman pulled Continental Airlines out of a deep abyss. In 1994 Continental lost $613M.  It had been in and out of bankruptcy twice.  The following year under continental climbingBrenneman’s leadership Continental profited $224M. [See Figures]

He discovered that you need to recognize the team that put you in crisis is rarely capable of pulling you out.   Talent management begins with recognizing whether you have the right people on the bus.  He feels this is the single most lacking element in business today.  Leaders fail to review their talent pool and classify who are their “A” players.  B players  need to be warned and/or coached up, while C players need to be redeployed or released.  It’s an exercise we take our Gazelles clients through called Topgrading Exercise – Grade Your Team.  It should be completed every six months. 

One short example of how he accomplished the turnaround was to provide incentives for his employees.  Continental was 10th [or last among major airlines] in on time flights, 10th in delivered baggage and 10th in customer service when Brenneman took over.  He offered employees a $100 bonus each month the company finished first and $65 for second or third.  It took three months for them to get to 3rd and another month after to reach 1st.   Employees were excited.  No one before had ever given them anything in the form of recognition.  An additional bonus for his people was getting things right also meant they got to go home early.   He noted that while it was difficult to give away $3 million to employees with a struggling airline, the cost of not getting bags on time to customers was costing them $9 M every month. 

Speakers up tomorrow include: Josh Bernoff, Forrester Research author of Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers and Transform Your Business.  Darren Hardy, Publisher of Success Magazine and author of The Compound Effect.  Graham Weston, chairman and found of Rackspace, the world’s leading specialist in hosting and cloud computing.  Verne Harnish, Gazelles Coach founder and author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.  Plus Mark Yaphe, co founder and CEO of Execu Think. 

Mark’s message might be the most interesting.  Did you know we achieve peak brain performance in our late 20’s to early 30’s and then slowly decline a few percentage points each year from there?   Mark programs help reverse the effects of normal age-related cognitive decline.   As an old man, I’m anxious to hear more.  How about you?

Topics: leadership, A Players, Topgrading

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