posted 1 Dec 2010 in Volume 14 Issue 3
It’s official: talent management is on the rebound. Human resources (HR) professionals are returning to claim the territory, consultancies are back on the bandwagon and conferences on the subject and sharing of best practices are de rigueur. The battle for brainpower has recommenced. The economic crisis forced organisations to undertake cost cutting with hiring freezes and redundancies, which has had an adverse affect on employee workloads, workplace stress and work/life balance. There has been a severe impact on employee engagement - six in ten European organisations have reported difficulties attracting top-performing employees, according to the 2010 Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards survey, prepared in conjunction with WorldatWork. There is the demographic time bomb of an aging workforce in
Redefine Talent. Redefine our place in the world
It’s reassuring to know that talent matters. Yet recent events (as companies have downsized) have jettisoned valuable knowledge with short-term abandon, and effectively been indiscriminate with talent (pouring it down the drain in some circumstances). This should serve as a warning. We are all living longer and it looks like we’ll also be working longer. Even if you are among the ‘knowledge elite’ in your own organisation it’s time to take a strategic look at your own talent. We have to begin to make the change from dependent to interdependent – from allowing others to value our talent, to placing a value on it ourselves and taking responsibility for developing that. Our perceived talent is our value. It’s also true to say that talent is too strategic and with its demographic (as well as economic and political) implications it is far too important to be left in the hands of HR or management consultants. Who knows, perhaps there will soon be a book on ‘talentonomics’.
But that is another subject. Let’s get up front and personal. How can we identify our raw talent at work as critical to success? Based on psychometric research of high achievers (world champions in ten cases) in sport, the arts, politics and business ? including a quartet of knowledge guru’s and one of the
First and foremost truly talented people, from world champions to top CEOs and chief knowledge officers (CKOs), have a compelling vision combined with a desire to learn and need to deliver. Within the bigger picture, they are able to visualise what the end game will look like. They learn experientially, which is not to say they don’t like reading. They also translate the big picture into action, by prioritising goals and meeting deadlines.
Talented people have a strong sense of their place and worth. They take control and responsibility for their own destiny. They do not depend on others for this, so in that sense they are independent. Nothing is quite as contagious as optimism. They have a positive mindset, are optimistic by nature and respond well to new challenges. Finally, they are persistent. They see things through to the end and bounce back from setbacks stronger than before. Uncertainty for them affords ambiguity and opportunity.
3. Passion and principles
As John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison say in a guest blog for the Harvard Business Review, “make your passion your profession.”1 To be talented is to believe in yourself and what you’re doing. Talent involves inspiring – not evangelising – others with your own passion. It also leads the talented person to re-evaluate their game against the next level of performance. They are always seeking continuous improvement, no matter how much has been achieved. Passion fuels enterprise and a striving nature. People with passion are seen as competitive, driven and persuasive. Passion is complemented by principles and ethics. They might not necessarily be trusting, many can be initially wary, but they are trustworthy.
4. A questioning disposition
Talented people are insightful, analytical and non-compliant: insightful in that they are quick to get to the core of a problem; are constantly looking for ways to improve things; and are analytical in that they frequently ask probing questions. This natural curiosity is a particular feature of talented people and one to look out for. Questions persuade. They also place you in control of a conversation. Being right doesn’t. Non-compliant means successful people don’t follow the rules. They take calculated risks and sometimes operate at the edge. They can be procedural when it counts.
5. The networking factor
Talented people develop a deep and diverse network. It’s not just what, but who, they know. They combine their networking ability with a questioning outlook, which enables them to spot connections and identify opportunities which others don’t. Typically, they are modest about their own achievements, have a low need for praise and don’t enjoy the limelight (although they often find themselves in it).They network well and are lively in social situations. The value of their network can be measured in quality rather than volume. It’s a learning community, which is based on mutual trust and reputation. Most have a stable of impressive mentors ? people with a reputation in their field and trusted advisors they listen to. Because of their passion they also tend to be seen as energising by those in their networks.
So what? To develop your own talent, perhaps you’d like to try our ‘mini-test’, opposite.
The test comprises quite a list of questions, so apologies about that. If looking at it alone hasn’t worn you out, then you can use your intuition to set out your own development plan to develop your talent. And believe me, you have talent!
Thanks to Professor Peter Saville and Tom Hopton of Saville Consulting, with whom I collaborated on their book Talent: Psychologists Personality Test Elite People, as well as Bob Wilson and the Willow Foundation for inspiring the research in support of their charity.
1. Four Ways to Use “Pull” to Increase Your Success, 7:07 PM Wednesday April 22, 2009, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison