From the Desk of Brad Smart:
HR Critical of Executive Leadership: 2 Keys to Improving Your Leadership Team

This year’s Global Leadership Forecast, in which DDI surveyed 18,000 executives, including 2,000 HR executives, shows an interesting trend: HR executives are increasingly critical of their peers in the C suite.

Almost half of the non-HR executives polled say their company has “high quality leaders.” In contrast, only 28% of HR leaders say their company has “high quality leaders.” Are HR executives overly critical, or are non-HR executives overestimating their team’s talent?

There are two key ways you can ensure your leadership team is truly “high quality.”

1. Play to Your Team’s Strengths, But Also Coach To Overcome Weaknesses.

One interesting survey result was: 42% of all the leaders favor more “assessment to diagnose leader strengths,” including their wanting “outside coaching…to help them grow their skills outside of day-to-day work.”

Diagnosing and coaching only your team’s strengths, however, is problematic. It leaves their weaknesses undiagnosed and uncoached. Our experience at Topgrading coaching senior managers is that identifying their weaker points and implementing development plans to overcome them is even more important for career success, and success of the team, than trying to find ways they can better use their strengths – something they do every day. We’ve participated in a great many meetings in which the career potentials and promotability of managers are discussed and:

  • Rarely is a manager not promoted because of an underutilized strength.
  • Most of the time a manager is not promoted because of a weaker point when it appears that they have not been working to overcome it.

2. Improve Quality of Hire

While coaching is a great way to help A Players maintain their abilities, and help Potential A Players reach their potential, our experience shows that coaching low performers is often a waste of time and resources. The best way to ensure the quality of your leadership team is by implementing a hiring and promoting process that will significantly improve your ability to place the right people in every role.

A Conference Board survey of executive teams, conducted just before the pandemic hit, showed the #1 concern: Talent deficiencies – too many hiring mistakes. Companies rarely measure their Quality of Hire, but we’ve surveyed hundreds of CEOs and heads of HR who, on the average, report that half of the people hired turn out to be disappointments. Why?  Because they report their hiring method does not produce candidate transparency, competency interviews don’t address enough crucial competencies, and reference checks too often are worthless – with friends of candidates.

Human Resources Could Be the Solution

When HR stands out as the function most critical of leaders, someone might suggest, “Hey, it was your HR methods that produced deficient leaders!  Please create better coaching and hiring methods,”

In our 2021 eGuide, you can learn how to build high performing teams with just a few small, but impactful, changes to your hiring process. Download your copy of the Topgrading Ebook.

Learn more about how Topgrading can help you build and maintain teams of top talent at

Improve your hiring success with Topgrading. Our proven hiring process will transform your selection methodology so that you get better hiring results across all industries, including hiring HR professionals.  Our leadership and candidate assessment, tools including candidate arranged reference call will help you assess, hire, retain, and grow outstanding team members. Contact us to learn more!

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