Improving leadership development is widely recognized by HR leaders and senior managers as a key priority for any high performing, modern organization. The Ontario Public Service prides itself on being one of Canada’s top 100 employers, one of Canada’s greenest employers, and one of Canada’s best diversity employers. The quality and development of our leaders is critical if we want to continue to be an employer of choice.
As part of its 2008-2011 HR Plan, the OPS launched the Role of the Manager initiative to clearly define roles and responsibilities of managers and to support leadership development across the organization. The Centre for Leadership and Learning (CFLL) developed a number of programs under this initiative, including: Management Foundations, a mandatory two-day program for all new managers to ensure they have the knowledge, skills, behaviours and supports to effectively lead and manage their employees and deliver business results; First 100 Days, a comprehensive on-boarding road map for newly hired executives; and iManage, a portal where managers can easily access policies, directives, communications, and other tools and resources to assist them in their leadership roles. The portal is also transparent and open to staff, to create broader awareness of the role of the manager.
The OPS Leader-Manager competency model was also revised to ensure that the competency descriptions and supporting human resources applications are current, accurate and aligned with changing business requirements. These changes helped to outline the proficiency levels from staff to deputy minister by providing primary focus areas for each of the four competencies (transforms, delivers, inspires, connects) and two personal attributes (self-awareness and acting with integrity). Expectations are clear and incorporate principles of inclusion. The model is a continuum of leadership mastery that applies to both management and leadership activities, and is a fundamental element in the OPS Talent Management Program (TM).
Now in its sixth year, talent management integrates the key HR processes of recruitment, performance management, talent assessment, learning and development, and succession planning. This ensures that management employees receive targeted development and that the organization is able to build and maintain capacity in all key positions for now and into the future.
Through the TM program, the OPS has transformed from a ministry-based, siloed perspective on talent to an enterprise-wide approach to managing talent. Talent is reviewed and discussed across the enterprise in ministries, regions and executive leadership tables to identify development and deployment opportunities for management employees. Talent information gathered from the TM system has equipped executives with better quality reference materials, reports and analysis on their leadership talent across the OPS.
Supported by an online system, senior leaders are able to review information from employees and managers. This creates a greater understanding of each employee’s career goals and skill set, allowing talent conversations to flourish. Learning and development strategies identified in the talent assessment process automatically link to an employee’s learning plan.
The TM program provides the organization with the tools to identify possible successors to key leadership positions and enable senior leaders to prepare them for their future roles. Talent management has given the OPS a better succession plan for high-risk positions in the organization.
The OPS offers two nominated programs for high potential leaders that are closely aligned to talent management and the competency framework: Advancing into Management (AIM) is a program designed to provide leadership and management development for 35 aspiring managers representing all ministries. Through six progressive modules over a six-month period, it blends 15 days of classroom-based learning with e-learning and personal reflection. The Leadership Development Program is a five-week residential program over the course of 12 months that offers dedicated learning aimed at preparing 35 senior managers for more complex assignments or higher-level positions.
With 28 percent of our senior executives eligible to retire within the next five years, it is critical that we continue to focus on developing and expanding the ways in which we develop current and future leaders.
The ability of a modern OPS to respond to changing priorities and challenges is dependent on an engaged workforce with the right competencies and a well established pathway for learning and development. It requires leaders who have the right combination of managerial and leadership skills to empower their staff to be leaders. The OPS is committed to being a modern, high performing public service that values its people and develops their capacity to learn, lead and thrive in a changing environment.
Clare Matthews is the manager of program development for the OPS Learning and Development Branch in the Ministry of Government Services. Chettie Legaspi is the manager of talent management in the Executive Program and Services Branch of the MGS.