One of my earliest posts ‘What is Talent’ (check out the article here) seems to form great, ongoing interest. In this context I’d like to invite you to also check my post ‘Poor Performance – Beyond Lacking Ability and Motivation’ as this post describes why Talent itself is not enough (check it out here). I decided to go even a bit more into detail with this post on how to make Talent Management more strategic. Enjoy.
To break down the terms of the question I’d like to give you a couple of definitions before starting on the strategic aspect. First things first.
Silzer et al. have defined Talent Management as ‘an integrated set of processes, programs, and cultural norms in an organization designed and implemented to attract, develop, deplay and retain talent to achieve strategic objectives and meet future business needs’. So, it’s basically to figure out whom do you need when and in which positions to hit your business objectives and stay competitive.
Silzer et al. defined that Potential implies ‘that an individual has qualities to effectively perform and contribute in broader or different roles in the organization at some point in the future’.
Companies define ‘Potential’ pretty different. Some companies would define Potential whether an individual can cover and perform in different not yet known roles or strategic positions. Some others might define it as whether he / she has the potential to stay with the company in case his / her position becomes obsolete and the ability to secure yourself another job by being adaptable and capable. Some others might define Potential totally detached from role profiles but look rather on the breadth of a person’s profile i.e. how much would he/she be able to cover (Generalists tend to be more flexible than Specialists). Some others might look on geographical areas or track records … As you can see the term ‘Potential’ is pretty tough to break down.
But there are some more general dimensions on how we can categorise Potential. We can look at personality and the person’s ability and willingness to learn and self-develop. We can also look on the person’s skill sets i.e. his / her leadership or cognitive skills.
These dimensions can be used within our Talent Management processes by clustering these dimensions into the following categories (Silzer & Church, 2009):
Foundational dimensions focus on the cognitive and personality variables, which are consistent and stable. This means that they are unlikely to develop or change. Cognitive variables or styles would be things like cognitive ability, strategic and conceptual thought processes, ability to handle complex situations. Personality does mean mainly the Big 5 personality traits and whether a person might be likely to derail by having high maladaptive tendencies.
The growth dimensions cover the ability to learn and the motivation to do so. The growth dimensions facilitate or hinder whether an individual is likely to grow and develop in different other areas. Learning is hereby put together as things like adaptability, openness to new topics and feedback, openness to learning processes. Motivation is whether an individual has the ambition and the drive to actually take action.
Career dimensions measure early indicators of later career skills, i.e professional competencies. These might be things like performance (typical and maximum performance), knowledge (already established competencies and skills), leadership skills and managerial behaviour (does the person show natural leadership style, has the ability to influence others etc.). Another important indicator are values, i.e. are the person’s values in line with the company’s values and norms.
With this process of breaking down the different parts of Potential and categorising those into the different dimensions you get a nice structure to manage your talent on a bit more strategic level. Feedback is absolutely appreciated. So, please let me how, how you are managing your talents and making your process more strategic.
Silzer, R. & Church, A.H. (2009). “The pearls and perils of identifying potential.” Industrial and Organizational Psychology 2, 377-412.