I managed to catch an interesting programme on Radio 4 last week on the topic of ‘Talent’. If you’re in the UK, you can catch it here. It’s well worth 30 minutes of your time.
Like the presenter, I love the talent development projects we get involved in. We get to work with a great mix of enthusiastic and committed people. Highly intelligent. Highly motivated.
And then they bump up against the filtering mechanisms and outright biases that get littered in their way, like tacks on the road to success.
Whether it’s a burst tyre, or simply a burst ego, their personal mindset can help them overcome most obstacles.
- For some people these are the normal setbacks and challenges of life, where mistakes are genuinely seen as ways to learn and grow
- It’s also becoming clearer that peoples’ inner values and emotional intelligence create tenacity, determination and resilience.
- Then there’s the qualities that get the job done – the grit, hard work, sticking at it and building skill.
So great. Mindset is important.
But how do you discern the best talent for the people, project or programme leadership roles?
The notion of ‘War for Talent’ results from a scarcity mindset, fuelled by people who profit from the churn in recruitment. It over-values some people, and writes off others. Both routes add to the expense of talent development
And there’s another hidden obstacle. People of the generation that’s worked hard to pass exam hurdles all their lives, are more likely to be biased against the ‘lifelong learning’ mentality.
The good news is that intelligence is improving – as education becomes better and more widespread.
Educators know that people, young and old, in empowering environments, do better than those where no-one believes in them.
- If we had a parent and a teacher who believed in us, we were doubly fortunate. Either one is better than none.
- Today, our bosses and the workplace classroom tutors, facilitators and coaches are the teacher/parent substitutes.
The good news is that workplace learning challenges really add value – measurable in IQ and EQ – in our work lifetimes.
So what is the best way to develop talent?
I know that you have a development mindset. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. But that development mentality needs to run through your organisation like a stick of rock.
So it’s not enough for the HR or L&D department to identify people with talent. Their line managers need to believe in them too.
The solution is to develop everyone. Give everyone challenging things to do and see whether – and how -they succeed.
Just, not only for leadership and management roles.
Everyone can have a Personal Development Plan, and every leader and manager can have the role of developing their people.
The secret is to identify what potential people have, rather than identifying solely for leadership potential.
Some of your people may have a preference for technical excellence alone. In which case, don’t give them people or projects to organise or lead.
Others may have more general, project management potential. Great. Because getting the day to day done is vital.
And some people may just have those crucial leadership qualities that organisations need to succeed beyond the day to day.
Of course, it does require that your organisation stops demanding everyone has to reach the same elevated section of your behavioural or competency framework, and lets people follow the direction that their talent profile points them towards.
In this way you don’t waste the talented resources you do have – you utilise them to their optimum. Because when you do that, chances are you’ll be tapping into their discretionary effort. Because they’ll want to take on the challenges that best suit their talents.
And you’ll get better results.
If you want to nurture your team’s talent 2017, just get in touch.