Learning goals for this aptitude

– Understand why design is important to talent optimization. – Be able to list and describe the five activities associated with the design aptitude. Design is part one of the four-part talent optimization discipline. This is where you’ll create and continuously evolve your people strategy.

Why design is important to talent optimization

Many companies cobble together employees without considering team dynamics, and they appoint leaders who might be excellent individual contributors but who lack the self-awareness and/or motivation needed to effectively inspire employees. When teams and leaders are designed ad hoc like this, results suffer. But when the design of the organization, its leadership, its culture, and its team dynamics are approached intentionally and strategically—supported by people data—companies have a much better chance of achieving their desired business objectives.

The design aptitude is composed of five activities

  • Recognize each team member’s strengths
  • Understand team dynamics
  • View the team’s strategic intent through a talent lens
  • Compare team capabilities and the work to be done
  • Establish your culture

Design in Action | Envision Bank

2016 marked a year of seismic changes at Envision Bank–a community bank in New England. With over 200 employees and $652M in total assets, Envision provides a variety of services, including checking, savings, mortgages, investing, credit cards, and loans for residential and commercial entities.

Not only did the 150-year-old bank merge with a similarly sized organization, First Eastern Mortgage, but the owners also went public. Unfortunately, not everyone benefited from the changes and the clash of cultures led to tension and incompatibility throughout the organization. Additionally, the leadership team struggled to collaborate, which handcuffed their ability to align on and work toward a common business objective.

The misaligned leadership quickly took a toll on the bank’s bottom line. As numbers fell short and growth expectations went unmet, departments became increasingly siloed. Leaders focused on competing for results instead of collaborating and maximizing relationships. To achieve their goals of profitability and supporting residential lending activities with increased deposit growth, the leadership team needed to define and align on a strategy. 

To do that, they leaned on the practices laid out in the Design aptitude of talent optimization and had a candid off-site discussion to evaluate:

  • Where there was agreement and disagreement on the business strategy
  • Which business strategies had the strongest emphasis among the leaders
  • How well each strategy fit with the leadership team’s skills, based on the collective team’s behavioral drives and needs 
  • The differences to work out before the team could put a plan into action. 

The team’s candid discussion clarified the leaders’ areas of expertise and work styles, as well as the optimal communication tactics and processes to move forward. More open communication and adjusting to have the right people in the right roles allowed them to break down silos, align on a strategy, and execute it successfully. Envision Bank is back in the black.