Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do Organisations Waste Their Talent?

Talent Management as a formal business concept has been around for decades now, where ‘smart’ future looking organisations of all sizes and across all business sectors, not only actively seek to attract talent to their organisation, but they then continue to develop this respected and appreciated talent during their careers and constantly make a real positive, practical effort to retain their talent, through a culture that promotes and encourages interactive ‘people’ conversations.
It makes good business sense – why wouldn’t you want to attract the best talent you could afford and then develop and retain them, creating a win-win situation for employer and employee?
Yet there are some organisations, or departments within organisations that make an effort to attract talent into their ranks, but then rather than utilising that talent to add to the organisations sustainable future growth, they take a weird business approach and consciously ‘cage’ that talent, more like a trophy, than an organisational resource. This seems to happen when the ‘bosses’ are less talented than the ‘talent they have’ and rather than embracing these new skills and future opportunities, these bosses prefer to ‘box’ this talent and refuse to allow the talent to grow.
This new talents reaction has an unsurprising common theme – they first try to innovate new ideas, some of which are incorporated within the department or organisations business framework, (though rarely are they given recognition beyond their own boss’s sphere of influence).
But then these ‘bosses’ see their talent as either a real or perceived threat to their own future and begin to marginalise this talent. It’s normally done quite subtly and deliberately, leaving the ‘new talent’ frustrated and lost, where the talent can become demotivated and disengaged from the day to day business. What’s clever, from a manipulative bad practice, about this approach is that the ‘talent’ looks like they are the problem – not the bosses. By becoming demotivated and disengaged the talent have set themselves up to be ‘viewed and sold’ as ‘problems’ and ‘not team players’.
It borders on criminally insane to attract talent to your business and then set it up for failure – but that’s what’s happening in today’s business environment even within organisations you’d think would know better and unless CEO’s, executives and other stakeholders allow a genuine, transparent channel for their talent to discuss systematic abuse by poor management hiding within their organisation – this practice will sadly continue for many, many years to come.
Commentators are often quick to talk down employee loyalty in the 21st century – but they do this at our peril. Talented people, at all ages and stages of their career, are looking for an organisation, with the associated leadership, that will;
1) Appreciate their skills;
2) Utilise their skills and talent to the full;
3) Will give them freedom to be innovative; and
4) Will continually develop their talent;
and through these few common sense steps they will retain their talent because the talent will feel that they are continuing to add value; that they are continuing to grow; and will gladly give their loyalty to the organisation – maybe not for life, but for a significant part of their career that ensures a win-win for everyone.
There is a lot of talent around and God knows organisations need the best talent they can find to optimise their year-on-year growth within a highly competitive global economy. Leaders cannot be experts in every aspect of their operational and/or service offering and simply put leaders aren’t expected to have this detailed knowledge – as it’s their role to lead. If you have someone in a ‘leadership’ position who feels threatened by talent that knows aspects of the business better than they do – they need to be removed from their leadership roles with immediate effect – or accept two guaranteed outcomes;
1) This person will demotivate your talent, to the extent that they will become disengaged from your business; and
2) You will never truly optimise your organisational performance going forward - regardless of how good things might look to you on the ground.
Talent is a unique competitive advantage and needs to be nurtured and looked after if you want it to grow and ‘bear fruit’ for your organisation year after year – it’s a simple concept and it’s worth spending the time to assess just how well your talent is being looked after in a genuine transparent way – as the benefits for your organisation are enormous.

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