Seeking the Potential of, and in our People
Often we talk about succession planning, or talent management and identification. But do we really know what talent is – or how to find it?
Many organisations use tools like the Nine Box Grid or one of the many other talent management frameworks to identify, map and ultimatly manage talented people.
But as the old saying goes – rubbish in — leads to — rubbish out.
Identifying Talent Potential
So when we are looking to identify “talent” what are we actually seeking? talent for today, tomorrow or next year? How do we know what “talent” is required next? For example, five years ago many firms had not heard of twitter, and thought facebook was a passing fad – now no reputable marketing or customer services function would be without either. How can talent be planned for and identified for these “black swan” events, or even the new skills or technologies which are there but not yet recognised an important. Or is it that we treat talent as “leadership” – and senior leadership at that?
Its about how we see our individuals, our organization and the business environment in which we operate.
What do we really see?
Many of us look at thinks and believe that what we are seeing is the “right” thing, it is only when someone shows us a different view that we sometimes change our perspective.
We have all seen the images that show the old woman and young girl – at first we only see one – but when shown we can see both. Once we are “educated” or we have “truly learnt” something it is very difficult to “forget”.
For example have a look at this Image:
How many squares do you see?
So how many did you see?
We need your FIRST thought.. what is your instinct, for this is the mental process we use to look for potential in people – or talent spotting if you like.
Have a second look.
Has your view changed?
This image could be akin to an employee, a team, an organization or a market. Where the number of squares that we see is the capacity or potential of the individual, org etc. so in this instance the “potential” of this individual is 16, although some of you may have thought 17 – and the very odd few of you may have thought 30.. don’t worry, I will explain all in a moment.
Have a look at this page & return when done…
How many squares?
So what are your thoughts? Are you capturing the potential of your people? is your talent management system just managing that show “16” – or is it really identifying those with much greater potential. Many mathamaticians will give you the answer 30, indeed if you look the puzzle up on the net you will see many that give that as the answer – but that is linear thinking, and identifying talent is not linear – we need to look at our resources in both creating and lateral ways.
Remember school grades rarely predicted career success – why would most talent identification approaches? As the world changes, so do the skills & attributes required. the skills that led to success just five years ago may well be the attitudes and behaviours that limit our growth today – and as for tomorrow – who knows.
Do competencies have a place in talent identification?
In recent years Human Resources functions have been developing various competency frameworks, in which to identify and “box” talent for tomorrow. This is a little like taking the 16 boxes above in the grid and writing a competence for each.. however the competency that may give the organization the edge for the future may very well be one of the other 3000+ (or even conservatively the 14 “hidden” squares).
I would argue that actually there are only a few REAL competencies:
- Rapidly Learn
- Adapt & Change
- Develop Others
- Build Collaborative Relationships
- Intrapersonal Awareness
With these “base level” competencies a person should be equiped to meet any future need. the only real difference between people is the speed and willingness at which they adapt – for leaders we need people that recognise when change is required and adapt appropriatly – not too early – and certainly not to late.
Everything else could be argued that it is a behaviour (not competence) or a learned skill – in which case anyone can learn it if the culture, environment and motivation are in place.
And let me just point out one important factor – this is NOT an age thing – its an attitude and outlook approach. It is about being flexible and adaptable, and reacting to the changes that are put upon us – but also applying our knowledge and experience to good effect. this does not mean that we just change – but we adapt fully.
How we look at people, organizations and capacity is what will give us the competitive advantage, at an individual and organizational level.