The original theme of this 6th VLD-Café session was the development of talents in a virtual context. In other words, how to deal with the development of human capital in dispersed teams where you as a leader have only limited line responsibility for the person involved.
One of the participants explained that this is indeed a serious issue for him every now and then. With team members located all over the globe, this manager indicated that one is sometimes not aware of local arrangements around appraisals, people development, local laws, ways of working etc. That makes it complicated. Moreover, it is not always clear to whom questions should be addressed for input or assistance.
Also, cultural differences can play a crucial role. In some cultures developmental points are really perceived as severe criticism, whereas in other cultures this is more appreciated as an opportunity for personal growth and development. It was also mentioned that investing in 1:1 conversations about personal development can take quite some time if you have a large team. However, all felt it is worth the investment!
We also discussed briefly that in some countries/cultures people need to organise their own appraisal. They are requested to get 360°-feedback on strengths and points for personal or professional development. Together with the point of view of the direct line manager, this is the starting point for both the appraisal and talent development. We all agreed that as leader we can also ask our virtual team members to own more of the process and become the driver of their development path. Some may need support to start this process, though.
We concluded that greater ownership of an individuals’ own development could be interesting. This may not easily match the culture in some companies or organisations but could be an opportunity to shift ineffective aspects of cultures in an organisation.
Then we drifted off
As with conversations in a real café setting, the discussion took a different turn and changed to generating real innovations in big companies. Based on presentations and lectures attended, one café visitor put forward that big companies are really looking for different approaches to innovation. They look at start-up companies and learn from their ways of working. Some companies apply e.g. new housing concepts to bring people together in settings found at start-ups. In other words, these companies try to boost the output and efficiency of innovation by redesigning their approach in the innovation process.
This is probably worth looking at again in more detail in one of the future sessions in the VLD-Café.