Jacek Sysak – Talent Development Manager
For 15 years, Jacek has been working in the HR industry. As Talent Development Manager at Aon, he is responsible for managing development programs, implementing support talent management solutions, project management and HR consulting. Acts also as a lecturer, trainer and speaker at HR events.
One of the Aon Colleague Experience principles is to own our potential – what exactly does it mean?
Aon Colleague Experience is very important from a development perspective.
Through this model we, as an organization, do not tell fake stories, but we talk about real experiences, we present our own career history which shows our colleagues how we shaped our development path and what kind of life-career choices we made.
For me, “Own your potential” means that each one of us should personally care about the development of their potential and we are all empowered to seek for the right path for ourselves in the organization by gathering experiences, seizing different opportunities or finding various challenges in our current roles /departments and around them. There’s also another aspect – we, as the managers, should show colleagues opportunities by presenting different ways they can choose, build people’s awareness of what is possible within the organisation and give a perspective on choice that is consistent with the employees’ competences, their readiness and with their aspirations.
How Aon helps employees to own their potential?
At Aon we believe that people learn first and foremost by experience. It gives 70% of the efficiency in the learning skills process.
We also grow by receiving feedback and working on it (20%). It is important to receive feedback not only from our managers, but also from our colleagues and people who we work with on the projects. The remaining 10% is our educational activity: trainings, workshops, conferences, on-line trainings (for example on Aon University portal). Our educational path at Aon starts with the induction sessions where colleagues receive very comprehensive support allowing them to quickly and easily enter their new roles, new tasks and new environment. Our educational part of the development offer is based on a training catalogue that includes trainings in 4 areas: soft skills, business, computer or managerial skills. Each colleague during his career discussion with a manager establishes a type of development activities and also selects optimal training solutions that will support his development in the best way. We pay special attention to programs for our managers and leaders. We have a unique global program – the Signature Program, but we also actively develop managerial skills at the local level by offering two local initiatives – Empowered Manager Program and Managerial Fundamentals.
I’d like to pause here and talk a little bit more about the Empowered Manager Program – what is it?
Empowered Manager Program is a comprehensive program dedicated to people with potential that are perceived by their managers as future managers, leaders. On the one hand the program gives the basic managerial skills and it allows answering the question whether the person is ready or when she/he will be ready for the manager’s role. On the other hand, it also gives the participant a perspective whether the manager’s path is right for him/her and it weighs up the real pros and cons of the managerial role.
So, actually you don’t have be a manager to participate in the program, right?
Exactly. This program is primarily for non-managers who may become the managers in the future; it’s some kind of fast track, allowing a systematic, comprehensive and Aon-like approach to touch all the aspects of the managerial role before you enter the role, and to discover what are your strengths and the areas for development. It is also an opportunity to test yourself in a safe environment before you embrace this role in the organization. The reality after the promotion is usually a big shock for new managers. The EMP is a kind of safe laboratory which allows you to see your competences and find effective solutions for the future.
Can you tell us more about the EMP?
The EMP does not consist solely of training workshops. The strength of this program lays is the variety of different activities, as well as the multitude of people in the organization that are involved in the program. The program starts with the nominations of the participants to the program by senior managers. On the basis of these nominations we arrange the first stage of the program – Manager Questions & Answers. This is the first meeting where the participants can talk with experienced managers and ask various questions.
The second step is a questionnaire filled in online. Thanks to that we can analyse the decisions of the participants in specific managerial situations and assess the efficiency. However, another stage is the most valuable to the participants because they are subjected to a variety of exercises in the Development Centre where, during simulated scenes, they can take a manager’s responsibility for a meeting with an employee or deal with difficulties during a team meeting. During this part of the program employees learn about themselves the most. Not only because they receive comprehensive feedback, but primarily because the personal experience of these simulations and the level of accompanying stress allow them to perform self-reflection on which we work with them through the rest of the program. A very important contribution to this part of the program is also provided by the current Team Managers and Senior Managers who actively participate in the Development Centre – both as assessors and actors in the simulated scenes. Another part of the program is a series of 6 training workshops in which nominees take part. During these sessions they practice how to build trust in a team, how to give feedback, how to build and form a team and delegate tasks, solve conflicts, and how to influence them effectively. Between each workshop session, participants receive a homework assignment which they discuss with their manager and perform in their team. The last part of the program is the feedback that the nominees receive based on the aspects of their competences observed during Development Centre. Feedback focuses primarily on the progress that has been made during the whole program and suggestions about the competences that still need to be developed.
What are the main benefits for the EMP participants?
The benefit for the participants is primarily to gain the awareness of their competences – what I am good at, what do I need to improve – to get the chance to practice different scenes in laboratory conditions and to test yourself in these difficult situations, as well as to receive professional feedback that can be very helpful in real situations when they already become the managers.
However, the most valuable benefit is the experience as such and touching all parts of the program that allow each participant to answer whether the managerial path is appropriate for him or he should be directed towards the expert path. One of the EMP participants compared the program to offering a handkerchief to clean eyeglasses through which we think we see well. However after cleaning the glasses it turns out we can see even more clearly and we spot things that we did not see before. This is probably the best summary of the program for me.
On a daily basis you work with Aon colleagues on their professional development. What advice would you give to our readers in terms of owning their potential in the best possible way?
Professional development of a person should always be aligned with his or her personal development. If it’s separated, frustration will occur at some point. Doing something because everyone else does it or choosing a career path just because others follow it is not the best approach. The key thing is to ask yourself “what am I good at and what will give me satisfaction” and then you will get an answer what are the directions for your development. They will be coherent with you as an individual, so you’ll be able to build a more consistent and satisfactory career path.