Blog Post

Why Every Employee Should Have the Opportunity to Be CEO

Chris Stewart

VP of Global Client Success, Cornerstone

With one in five employees looking to change jobs in 2016, career mobility should be at the front of employers' minds. For CHRO of Hitachi, Levent Arabaci, mobility means more than just the opportunity to rise within a department—it's the opportunity to rise within a company.

Arabaci is responsible for driving Hitachi's globalization initiatives for HR across more than 1,000 subsidiaries and 350,000 base employees. He believes that a performance management program should focus on helping employees grow within a company for mutual benefit: organizations keep top talent by providing options to move laterally or vertically, and employees gain diverse, rich work experience. As he said at Cornerstone Convergence, "Every employee should have the opportunity to be the CEO of Hitachi one day."

We spoke with Arabaci to learn more about how he has put true career mobility into practice at Hitachi and how other organizations can follow suit.

How does Hitachi's performance management program benefit both employees and the organization?

Our performance management system is designed to align goals and develop people across the organization. We measure what you achieve—goals—as well as how you got there—competencies—as an employee or leader.

This process helps Hitachi create a culture of accountability, and drive common goals across the company. Along the way, we identify strengths and opportunities for talent and focus on developing their skills to unleash their full potential.

What is the relationship between effective performance management and career mobility?

We firmly believe in holding people accountable for their performance, but also in helping and guiding them to achieve their full potential. Setting stretch goals, and creating line of sight is critical to accomplish company goals.

We have many employees assigned to subsidiaries and business units across the globe to ensure they get a broad range of experience at Hitachi throughout their career. The key to success is creating mobility opportunities across subsidiaries and business units to cross-train our talent and provide them with more diverse [experiences].

What common mistakes do companies make with performance management, and how can they avoid them?

First, aligning goals and line of sight is critical. If there is no alignment, then there will be no common success.

Second is measuring against goals as well as against competencies. You need to measure not only what you achieved, but also how you got there. For example, there may be a manager who is extremely successful in delivering results, but fails to create collaboration or motivation across the company. These behaviors must be measured, and this manager has to be developed. Setting both goals and competencies is extremely critical to shift mindset and change company culture.

Third is lack of leadership buy-in and involvement. Performance management has to be a business-driven initiative. Unless business leaders get involved, the process will not stick and will eventually disappear.

Fourth is to make sure there is a robust system that enables all these requirements. Without a system there is no utilization, measurement or scalability. I am a strong proponent of technology; it provides scalability and measurement. Be sure to get a performance management system that will deliver all the requirements you put forward.

Why do you believe 'every employee should have the opportunity to be CEO'?

I believe a true, global approach without boundaries or borders is the only way for many companies to thrive in a global landscape. To achieve this, we must make every employee feel like they will have the opportunity to be a CEO one day if they perform and have the right potential regardless of where they are in the world or which division they are in. If everyone believes they have a fair shot at being a CEO, then they will feel they can achieve their full potential in this environment.

Photo: Twenty20

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