Category: Associate Development and Engagement

Leadership Talent Review: Boston Financial’s Great Glass Elevator


Boston Financial’s LTR process includes the calibration of managers’ leadership talent by examining potential in relation to performance.

Our success helping our clients plan for the future is predicated on our ability to put the right managers and other associates in place to serve our clients and their investors. We do this through Boston Financial’s Leadership Talent Review (LTR) process, which identifies, develops and places talent within the context of the company’s future needs.

An integral part of our performance-based culture, the LTR cycle, which takes 18 months to complete, has four steps:

  1. Clarify
  2. Calibrate
  3. Act
  4. Monitor

Clarify: At its core, LTR is about forward-thinking succession planning. Therefore, it is essential that each LTR cycle begins with the identification of industry trends affecting our clients and the leadership skills the company needs to help our clients prepare to succeed in the next 12 to 24 months. When consensus is reached at the senior management level, these business competencies are circulated among management teams to prepare for the next phase.

5 leadership compentencies

Calibrate: The goal of this phase is to identify members of the management team in every business unit who are either ready now or could be expanded to serve our client’s future business needs.  Attendees include all levels of management across all units.  These meetings start with the placement of every manager under review onto a grid that juxtaposes their leadership potential against their current performance.

After the initial rankings, managers present each candidate and facilitated discussion begins. The discussion engages management from across the company. Doing so both broadens our view of the potential leaders, and allows leaders to evaluate whether a strong performer in one division may be a candidate for an open position in another part of the company.  During this process, the placement of associates on the calibration grid changes as potential is explored from different viewpoints. At the end of this phase, business leaders are sent back to their teams with a list of their managers who are either “ready now” for increased responsibilities, show potential to be expanded into future leadership roles or should be watched because their performance differentiates them from their peers.

Act:  During this phase, the business leaders are given tools for communicating the outcomes of the calibration meetings to their teams, along with a plan for thoughtfully building and implementing associate-specific professional development plans.  Says Managing Director Tracy Shelby, “Boston Financial’s LTR process is the most effective succession planning process I’ve ever been associated with.  Each individual evaluated in the process hears specific feedback and gains a full understanding of where s/he stands relative to promotion and professional growth opportunities.”

One Boston Financial unit saw 55% of "ready now" managers take on expanded roles or be promoted in the 2013-2014 LTR cycle.

One Boston Financial unit saw 55% of “ready now” managers take on expanded roles or be promoted in the 2013-2014 LTR cycle.

Monitor: A data-driven organization, Boston Financial next monitors potential leaders to ensure they are being given the support they need to take on new responsibilities or move into different positions.

Data tells us the process is working! For example, in the most recent LTR cycle, one unit at Boston Financial identified 12 “ready now” associates out of a pool of 68 potential managers.  After 15 months of action, 52% of these “ready now managers” are in new or expanded roles within the company.

The great glass elevator in Roald Dahl’s classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” went up and down. It also went sideways and diagonally – in whatever direction was needed to get Charlie and his family to where they needed to be. Boston Financial’s LTR is designed to do the same thing, with the end result being the movement of associates in whatever position is best suited to marry their talents and skills with the needs of our clients. We look forward to our next trip in our great glass elevator, which is due to start in mid-2015.

Marie Thompson

Marie Thompson

Marie joined Boston Financial in 2005 and is responsible for leading the learning organization. Marie and her team of learning professionals partner with business leaders to customize solutions to build and enhance individual, team and organizational performance. She has more than 20 years of experience in the learning profession in the areas of leadership development, talent identification and assessment, career development, instructional design and course delivery & facilitation. Prior to joining Boston Financial Marie was an Organizational Effectiveness Business Partner at Bank of America and Fleet Boston Financial.

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  1. cat

    This is a very informative! I have wondered how these decisions were made. It looks like a lot of thought goes into them, I appreciate that. Thank you!


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