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Developing Talent: a Two Way Street in a Moving Bus

You may have heard the phrase ‘talent management’ used, or maybe you know people who hold positions in Human Resources. It’s another of the latest phrases to describe something that managers in organizations have been doing for a long time: attracting people with the skills they need, hiring them into the appropriate jobs, developing them into effective employees and keeping them so the organization can meet current and future needs.

The shift in today’s workplace is from holding HR totally responsible for this — to holding every manager who has a direct report responsible for this. It ends up not being about leveraging the most talented employees but figuring out how to leverage the talent that all employees bring to their positions.

This is not a  one way street but mangers could do a much better job of it if they understood what it really is and then had the skills to actually perform the following:

It’s about THEM – Taking a genuine interest in your employee’s development. Are you willing to help your employees learn new skills and reach higher levels performance? Are you prepared to coach them on both the process and the outcome? Can you articulate the observable behaviors you need to see as an indication that they have been successful?

Talent Management is about how you manage the talent of others – not how you are being managed. I’ve never known anyone who cared about the kind of performance feedback their boss was getting – not should they. That’s between you and your boss, and does not excuse a lackluster coaching job on your part. Yes – it makes it more difficult when you aren’t being managed as well as you’d like. But hardly impossible.

Shared goals – Know what your people are doing and how they approach their work. Ask employees what they think they need in order to achieve a higher level of work. You should come to an agreement on one or two well articulated goals and share an understanding of what a successful outcome will look like.

Write it down – Both of you will need something to refer back to so provide enough detail and specifics. This provides focus. And if the process is as important as the product – write that down too.

Look for development opportunities – The process is most useful when it provides for genuine growth for an employee. Look for opportunities in your employees’ existing work where the goals can be practiced. For example, if your employee is working on presentation skills, offer real-time development by explaining how to craft a professional presentation, what they do to prepare, how to create exciting visual aid, and how to handle a Q&A session.

Check-In and Check Up – Make sure to hold regular check-in meetings. This allows you to tak a step back and asses together how things are progressing.

There will always be new buzz words that take the place of last year’s buzzwords. Sometimes, while the hope is that it provides a more apt label, it only serves to obscure the communication more. Many clients and colleagues will ask me in a confidential whisper what certain terms really mean and I’m happy to point out that their guess is accurate.

Some argue that good hiring practices are the essential ingredient; if you’ve got the right processes, procedures, and systems, then all you need is to get the ‘right people on the bus,’ (the metaphor is over used but still conveys the goal well). That’s simply talent acquisition.

A good talent management initiative is designed to review the performance and career potential of every employee, to ascertain the possible vacancy risks of current employees, to identify successors and top talent in the organization, and to create development action plans to prepare employees for future roles in the organization. It’s an active and vibrant process that focuses on getting information about talent, analyzing the career interests of employees, assessing organizational business needs, identifying top talent, and developing the high potential performers to reduce the risk of losing the best people, increase the senior leadership pipeline, and minimize leadership gaps when turnover occurs.

I read recently that only 5 percent of organizations say they have a clear talent management strategy and operational programs in place today. What good is getting the right people on the bus if the bus isn’t being driven anywhere?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 at 3:09 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.