Strategies to develop your top talent

Archive for November, 2008

I had a colleage ask me today about talent management and my experience with how employees respond to talent management efforts at work.  Here’s some of what I shared with her.

From the employee side, there is a natural concern about fairness and favoritism; will Talent Management (TM) be administered fairly and give everyone an equal chance to succeed?  Will it be a cover for leaders who are championing/grooming/promoting their own favorites?


Also, most TM efforts or programs have some kind of measurement included with them.  Some of those include personal profiles or talent assessments.  Some people have a natural fear about how those will be viewed or used by management.  Other measurements are more tied to performance management or productivity or contribution to the company.  Some employees don’t like the additional scrutiny that comes with measurement–period.


Honestly, a lot of “talent management” efforts are really HR-sponsored drives that are modest in their goals/design and don’t have real staying power.  Employees have a legitimate right to question if TM is a “flavor of the year” hobby that will be eventually abandoned in 12-24 months.  That often seems to be what happens unless management is fully committed to it and is willing to make it a robust, long-lasting change in how the organization thinks about and practices talent management.


Of course, I encourage leaders who are committed to developing top talent to exercise some empathy and think first about how their efforts are going to be received by employees.  It can avoid a lot of pain and waste later on.


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Talent goes to the polls

My wife encouraged me to write something about talent and the interface with the elections in the US.  I scratched my head (figuratively) until some of the following thoughts came together.

Look at the leaders of a democratic country–they are a reflection (or projection if you will) of the people they represent.  The aspirations, pride, patriotism, greed, humanity, biases, wisdom, folly, enlightenment and blindness of the people are embodied in the elected leaders.  The talent and judgment and choices of the people gets elected to office.  When people are unhappy with their leaders, on some level they are also unhappy with themselves.  That may sound philosophical to some, but it’s also the cold, hard truth.

Most people focus on the leaders–the candidates and their positions, policies, their merits and flaws.  I encourage you though to look at the electorate, the people who vote and put the leaders in office.  It’s the talent of the people who go to the polls that determines the direction of a country to a much greater degree than the individual they elect.  When we ignore that and elevate our leaders to to a cult-hero status, we literally give our power away. 

Today, on the eve of the US election I’m going to champion the talent of the people, the great mass who will collectively decide the direction and leadership of their country.  Whether you agree or not with the outcome, look a little deeper into the wisdom of the choice that is made.  That choice will arise from a deep collective talent finding expression.

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