Behind the success of Operation Desert Storm was primary management research that could have a significant impact on how banks recruit.

Banking in North America has gone through arduous changes in the past decade, and more is coming. It takes truly competent managers to capitalize on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Recruiting and promoting this capability will be critical to maintaining a competitive edge.

It is no longer simply a matter of recruiting for today's job. Banks must recruit and promote for the future.

Therefore, banks need more reliable means of forecasting a candidate's potential.

Career-Path Appreciation

In 1988, the United States Army Research Institute released a report on research that assessed various methods used for determining who will rise in the Army officer corps and who will not.

The institute examined one method of predicting management potential and compared it to the other techniques most commonly used.

It concluded that this new method, known as "career-path appreciation," clearly exceeded the others in its capacity to predict the level of work a person would be capable of performing five to 10 years into the future.

Differences in Potential

Career-path appreciation does not rely solely on intelligence, gender, cultural background, personality traits, or personal values.

Rather, it is based on the fact that humans mature at different rates in their ability to handle complexity.

Despite the common belief that anyone can be a corporate CEO, some will never be able to handle complexity at levels enabling them to assume middle and senior management positions.

Elliott Jaques, a renowned management scientist and visiting professor at George Washington University, developed the concept of individual growth curve capability to handle work complexity.

It is upon his theories that career-path appreciation is founded.

It appears that most managers can learn to be as accurate as the career-path appreciation process in predicting employee potential.

How this process work's and why it quickly becoming a popular method of forecasting management potential is already documented by banks employing it in Canada.

How It Works

Other companies have started to go beyond this to develop the management capability to use Prof. Jacques' techniques.

What are the steps required for a manager to use career-path appreciation successfully?

The first is to develop an understanding of his or her own organization relative to work complexity.

The second is accurately assess the complexity of the work that the manager is recruiting for, according to the criteria Prof. Jacques has designed. Then you will be able to determine an applicant's actual operating capacity and derive the basis for forecasting potential.

A Bottom-Line Issue

This technique requires considerable expertise. But once in place, it can transform the predictive reliability of a bank's human resource planning system.

Talent-pool development and management succession planning are of no small importance when it comes to what lies ahead for the banking industry.

Techniques like these offer significant improvements in a bank's bottom-line operations.

Mr. Brookes is a partner with KPMG Peat Marwick Stevenson & Kellogg in Toronto. He specializes in organizational design and management practices.

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