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FCCMA Conference Survey on Leadership



We conducted a Talent Management survey of FCCMA Conference participants in the topics of leadership, headcount projections, engagement and retirement alternatives. The responses to this brief survey, while not conclusive on their own, help to validate some of your impressions and third party survey reports you may have read.

The survey was sent to 144 Conference participants with a response rate of around 24%. This “very high” response rate gives strength to these results and denotes a strong interest in the conference group on the topics of talent management and leadership.


Question 1: Headcount Projections over the Next 12 Months

While other survey elements were not as encouraging, headcount projections for most respondents were a very positive note, given the attrition during recent years in the public sector.

Nearly 70% of respondents plan to just replace turnover. That correlates well with media reports where we hear that many organizations are maintaining their headcounts.

A breath of fresh air was seeing that over 18% of respondents are looking to grow their headcounts, while only an aggregate of 12% were either planning on attrition or layoffs.

Question 2: Investment in Leadership Development

Respondents showed that too many organizations do not have a systematic approach to developing leadership. This is worrisome, since numerous studies such as the one by Bersin & Associates show that organizations which engage in leadership development activities tend to significantly outperform their peers. This tends to impact costs of operations and employee satisfaction.

When given four key strategic initiatives for Leadership Development, nearly 40% of respondents expressed they were not using them. While there are many alternatives to developing leaders, the ones presented in this survey are some of the most fundamental ones.

The most popular response was having a leadership succession plan, but often times this means only identifying the successor(s), and not necessarily conducting leadership assessments or developmental activities for the successors.

Less than 31% used leadership assessments. This is also troublesome as most organizations that invest in leader development use top-notch assessment tools to ID high-potentials and to craft development activities for leaders.

While around 24% of respondents use external executive coaches, only a small group (around 12%) assigns mentors to high-potentials. This shows a stark under-utilization of internal executive talent to develop the skillset of future leaders.

Question 3: Building an Executive Coaching Skillset

The use of coaching is not leveraged much in this group. While some organizations look at the cost of coaching, many are unaware of the vast returns of this investment. One important element that leading through coaching brings to the organization is the systemic enhancement of emotional engagement, which according to a study by the Corporate Leadership Board, is four times more valuable at driving employee effort than rational engagement.

The results of question #3 were by far the most interesting. While over 54% of respondents believe that their senior management exhibit coaching behaviors when leading, more than 27% have no plans to implement coaching in their organizations.

This denotes that coaching behavior as a leadership skill can be something rather accidental, lacking strategic organizational intent for many respondents.

However, it was encouraging to see that over 27% of respondents have worked at developing coaching skills for managers and supervisors and the same percentage feel that coaching is an organizational value.

Question 4: Employee Engagement

There seems to be further room for improvement in addressing employee engagement. If one is to correlate the study performed by People Metrics, which showed the lowest profitable Fortune 500 organizations had 50% fewer engaged employees than those in the top quartile, it is easy to see why addressing employee engagement is such an important factor to drive performance as it relates to issues of productivity, quality and customer satisfaction.

Nearly 58% of respondents feel that limited career opportunities and/or lack of inspirational leadership are the main culprits of dis-engagement in the workforce, or as we call it – “presentism”.

Organizational dysfunction came at a distant third with over 39%, while poor compensation and job clarity were both at around 33%.
As one can see, one of the biggest issues of employee engagement is proactive career management in the workplace. Many organizations do not address this, leaving to chance whether an employee understands career-pathing opportunities within the organization. Yet, the survey shows that, in addition to leadership issues, the “feeling” of limited career opportunities share the same weight as the main culprits for weaker employee engagement.

Notice the correlation between lack of programs that invest in leadership and the resulting perception that inspirational leadership is lacking in the survey.

Question 5: Retiring Employees

Another surprising fact was the amount of participants in this cohort group that did not address retiring employee transition from career management standpoint. This brings a very serious issue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people in the workforce age 65 and above will have grown by 84% between 2006 and 2016; meaning that retiring often means finding a new job to supplement today’s high cost of living.

However, helping retiring employees with new career opportunities is important not just from a social standpoint. In addition, organizations will find themselves employing an aging workforce and how one parts way with retiring employees is critical to attracting the best talent into one’s organization.

Almost 94% or respondents expressed they don’t offer a retirement transition program that explores work-life balance, including the exploration of new career opportunities and the emotional challenges of not working for your former employer.

The Bright Side

There are clear and critical observations in this survey, which we feel respondents should address proactively. However, we see the glass half-full and not half-empty, since many of the findings that need attention can be tackled effectively.

Some of the elements such as career management for employees and dealing with retiring employees’ career transition can be dealt with in pretty immediate fashion, with expectations of productivity improvements in the near future.

Dealing with leadership development takes longer. Sound programs are not done by sending people off to a one-day seminar or reading a book. Effective leadership has fundamental components in self-awareness, change in leader behaviors, the ability to provide appropriate feedback to colleagues, and building an organization-wide culture of leading right.

This is not a destination, but rather, an ongoing process. Like raising your children the right way, it takes time and consistency, but you see the results of your labor when they grow up to be responsible and productive members of our society.

Those organizations who develop their leaders and people, soon realize that this is not a simple cost issue…it is truly an investment discussion.

Famous quote:

CFO asks his CEO,

“What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave the company?”

CEO answers,

‘What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”


Prepared by:

Robert Newland, Career Partner International (CPI)

President & CEO CPI Florida/Caribbean Region
Chair CPI Global Research Institute
(888) 739-8504 X 240