Making Talent Management more strategic by focusing on Potential #MyNutShare

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

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.

Growth dimensions

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

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.

MyNutShare - Dimensions of Potential developed from Silzer & Church, 2009
MyNutShare – Dimensions of Potential developed from Silzer & Church, 2009

Silzer, R. & Church, A.H. (2009). “The pearls and perils of identifying potential.” Industrial and Organizational Psychology 2, 377-412.

Personnel Selection and Performance

When talking about ‘getting the right people into the right place’ its mostly linked to the goal ‘to get job done’. So what does this exactly mean?  People differ in their ‘talents’ – their knowledge, skills, abilities and others differences. Therefore in order to reach this ‘getting it done’ goal personnel selection should define the relationships between the needed ‘talents’ and the performance outcomes they should ideally lead to.

Viswesvaran and Ones (2000) defined job performance as “scalable actions, behaviour and outcomes that employees engage in or bring about that are linked with and contribute to organisational goals”. Performance could either be related to specific tasks and goals or be a factor that influences goal achievement maybe indirect (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993).

So, to make the right decision in a selection context companies should define:

  1. What are the company’s goals? And are they transparent communicated to the HR departments?
  2. What ‘talents’ are needed? Was there a proper job analysis conducted to find out?
  3. How are these ‘talents’ gonna be found, attracted and got on board?
  4. What would be a good way to identify if it’s the right ‘talent’ before being hired?

Are those elementary first steps not done this could lead to high costs of poor selection.

Furthermore shouldn’t we think one step ahead and instead of just considering what ‘talent’ is needed in this actual moment? Shouldn’t we focus on the future? Wouldn’t it be useful to define what ‘talents’ or qualities will be needed to perform effectively in more than just one future role? Shouldn’t we focus on ‘potential’ rather than ‘talent’? Shouldn’t we consider a look at what performance a candidate is maximal capable of? Or should we focus on the typically shown performance? And which environment would be needed to support maximal performance?

I am keen to get to know your thoughts about ‘Personnel Selection and Performance’.

Stephanie

What is Talent?

Well, here we go. My first blog post! Whoop whoop.

Probably since McKinsey consultants introduced  the term ‘The War for Talent’ in 1997 most people understood that ‘Talent’ is considered to be something awesome. Especially companies and HR within them are keen to find the best talents on the market and to win them. Fair enough! But what exactly is talent? Which talent do you need?

Fact is, there is until now, year 2015 – 18 years later – NO universal established definition of talent. Wikipedia for example states ‘Talent means the skill that someone has quite naturally to do something that is hard’.  Innovation Excellence defines talent as something we cannot acquire and ‘we cannot learn to be talented’.  Business Dictionary gives two definitions for talent. ‘1. A natural ability to excel at a duty or an action’ and ‘2. A group of people, such as employees, who have a particular aptitude for certain tasks’. OK so this means in those context we assume that talent is something we cannot develop but which is naturally given.

So, this would mean talent is given and as a HR person you would need to find that person with the talent that you need for your special task to be fulfilled. Sounds pretty challenging. And would the talented person even know that he or she is talented? Would a natural talent always beat hard work?

I’m not too sure with all these definitions. Shouldn’t we more think about

  1. Is the talent a ‘raw’ talent or has the person already taken any action to build on his or her talent to grow and strengthen it?
  2. What if a naturally talented person is lazy? Would a less talented person but with a high strive to perform be a better alternative?
  3. Are we really searching for talent or are we searching for potential?

Whatever talent might be I guess we should take into account that our world is changing constantly and we should be forearmed for future challenges. And without any doubt is our workforce the most important asset and value of each company.

I hope this may be some good food for thought. I am keen to hear your view!

Stephanie