Published by Clive Wilson, on 22/02/2009
Talent management has become the dominant workplace issue of this century. The prevailing theme of the talent management profession is the establishment of processes through which sufficient talent can be sourced, developed and used for an organization. Emphasis is placed on succession to key roles and the development of key individuals.
The focus of the discipline of talent liberation on the other hand is on making the most of the talent that everyone brings to the workplace. It is a progressive and emerging discipline and a subset of the positive psychology movement. The underlying philosophy of talent liberation is outlined in the following statement:
Organizations reach prime performance when they recognise, value, develop and use the unique talents of all their people in the delivery of their objectives.
Here the words recognise, value, develop and use are key. My experience is that individuals and organizations must take deliberate steps to –
(a) recognize the talent they bring to the workplace;
(b) value it in terms of a calculated understanding of how each talent adds value;
(c) develop talents into clear strengths rather than focusing too much energy on weaknesses; and
(d) use the unique talents they have consciously to deliver their shared objectives.
For talent liberation to work properly, it must be led from the top and fed into the life blood of the organisation in a systematic way. Every organisation is different and the precise implementation of talent liberation will depend on what else is going on. With this in mind, the following eight-step process is offered, to be moulded as appropriate for particular needs.
1. Confirm direction: Make sure there is clarity of vision in the organization and a good understanding of how value is added. Without this, people will not know how to add value through the best use of their talents.
2. State philosophy: Establish the organization’s philosophy on talent. Could it buy into the statement provided above? What else needs to be said to make it fit for purpose?
3. Align processes: Do the organization’s performance management processes support the philosophy? If not, initiate appropriate changes.
4. Plan: What else will the organization need to do to support talent liberation? Take stock of all the steps in this article.
5. Communicate: Communicate the new philosophy and plan of supporting action via the head of business. Then, establish a clear communications strategy to let people know how talent is being used to support business needs on an ongoing basis.
6. Develop leaders: Provide leadership development for all managers where they can recognise, value, develop and use their talents in the delivery of business objectives. Then, after they have made gains, equip them to do the same for their people.
7. Build talented teams: Provide team development where individuals can acknowledge each other’s talents and commit as a team to improved ways of working that play to their strengths.
8. Review: Review, modify and repeat as required.
When McKinsey & Co identified the ‘War for Talent’ they implied that businesses would be most successful if they focused only on fighting a battle with their competitiors to attract the best people. The Top 10% concept.
In 25 plus years in business I have never believed this to be entirely true. Making the most of talent at all levels in a business is equally important. For example training and coaching the lady on the front -ine to give every customer memorable service every time will yeild huge benfits. This is even more powerful when she is encouraged to move beyond technically competent service to a place where the she adds their own flair or magic! Think of some of your own experiences to measure if this is true.
Missing these apparently low grade people out of the talent pool is a big mistake. And it’s not just me who thinks this. Jeff Pfeffer of Stanford Business School in his book Hidden Value states: ” Mathematical fact is that only 10% of people are going to be in the top 10%..so hiring and retaining talent is great, however, building a great company that creates and uses talent at all levels is better.”
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