Came across this article long back on some site.
I do not remember who was the original writer, but with due respect to him/her I would like to share this with all of you.
Talent is the single greatest and most sustainable source of competitive advantage for a company. It has far-reaching benefits such as increased performance and productivity. Talent can be broadly defined as an individual's natural qualities and abilities which allows him or her to excel in a given area. Skills, on the other hand, are a result of training and honing natural talents. The best organisations are those that focus on actively recruiting and developing people who are exceptionally good at what they do. But given that there is often very little extra salary cost associated with this, isn't it a wonder that more organisations don't employ this strategy?
Most organisations don't understand the quantum leap in performance that talent can generate. They therefore don't make its acquisition and development a priority. Often, no effort is made to objectively define the particular talent that the organisation needs in its various roles. Since this talent is not defined, it is impossible to hire the person gifted with it. An organisation is also less likely to devote resources to coaching, and creating the growth opportunities the talent requires to thrive in.
Identifying talent Many people are therefore doing jobs that don't suit them. So even though everyone is talented, not everyone is engaged in an appropriate activity which gives them the right stimuli to allow their talent to blossom. The starting point is to identify the natural qualities that make an individual particularly good in a specific role, career path or organisation.
The best way to build a talent-centric - or high performance - organisation is to have the people themselves define the key characteristics required in the roles. The recruitment practices should then be changed to reflect these insights.
This means that recruiters should realise that the selection process is biased towards skills identification. For example, the basic requirements for a regional financial analyst might include an appropriate professional qualification, appropriate professional experience, a good track record in quality organisations, a good level of numeracy and developed IT skills.
However, these basic requirements are largely superficial. The person that's really required should have some natural qualities that will help him succeed, such as the breadth of vision to spot trends as they begin to emerge, the intellectual capacity to understand the business, the communication skills and confidence to push for a change.
By hiring a talented analyst, you actually hire somebody who actually helps run the business. A talented individual is often twice as productive than an adequate individual, but is generally paid only slightly more. If a five per cent increase in salary can result in a 100 per cent increase in performance, it is definitely worth it.
Talent centric It is important to identify what talent means in the context of a given role or organisation. Headhunters also need to appreciate the benefits of this and the fact that it has a minimal impact on salary.
Recruiting the right person is not enough. Those in charge of managing people should remember that it is important to:
• Focus on success rather than failure. This seems obvious but is less common than would be expected.
• Focus management's attention on high performers, not underachievers.
• Recognise talented individuals, invest in them and use them as models for future recruitment.
• Invest in training and development.
• Provide a clear vision and direction.
• Measure performance and praise high performance. Praise leads to repetition.
If you care about your organisation, you should constantly strive to recruit people with a natural tendency to the task at hand. This then becomes a process and is institutionalised.
The advantage of hiring talented people is that they are often easier to manage. For instance, someone who has natural sales skills is far more likely to be happy and effective at selling the organisation's products than somebody who is intelligent, but lacks the critical commercial sense and timing which make a great salesperson.
Organisations are like super tankers. It often takes a lot of effort to build momentum in an organisation to become truly talent-centric. But once a critical mass is achieved, a 'virtuous cycle' often takes hold. Today's perfect organisations which combine individuals and 'the mix', will almost certainly be inappropriate in 30 years time.
Therefore, organisations must constantly adapt to the competitive environment in which they operate.
The appointment of appropriately talented people has far-reaching benefits. For a minimal cost, it improves retention, and results in a dramatic increase in productivity. All organisations should focus on talent. The truth is that many of the highly successful organisations that demonstrate far above average results year in and year out, already do.
• Talent Scouting
Employees' hidden star qualities might be just the thing to put your business's name in lights.
Entrepreneur magazine - May 2004
By Chris Penttila
Do you know how talented your employees really are? Every employee has hidden talents that could take your company from good to great. "People come with more talent than the job they're hired for," says Robert Kelley, a professor of management at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Tapping the talent zeitgeist is more important than ever before. Employees want their hidden talents to be recognized and developed:
When Indianapolis loyalty research firm Walker Information Inc. surveyed 2,400 employees last year, it found two-thirds wanted to leave their companies because there weren't enough development opportunities.
While skills and knowledge can be learned, talent is instinctive. An administrative assistant could have a knack for negotiation, or an accountant a penchant for spotting industry trends. Employees may also have "black market" talents—like photography or musical ability—that don't seem relevant to the workplace but can "make new things happen" if used strategically, says David Magellan Horth, program manager and a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership, a leadership training and research firm in Greensboro, North Carolina. He points to one manager who opened a meeting by playing his cello to get employees thinking. It worked.
Employees rise above the rest once they harness their natural talents, says Kenneth A. Tucker, seminar leader and managing consultant for The Gallup Organization in Washington, DC, and co-author of Animals, Inc.: A Business Parable for the 21st Century (Warner Books). His research has found that an employee using his or her true talents has more than twice the productivity of a person who doesn't have a natural talent for doing the same job.
And a company rockets to the next level once each employee applies his or her talents. "Tiger Woods redefined our reality of what great golf looks like," Tucker says. "Talent will redefine the reality of your organization."
As an entrepreneurial company, you have a size advantage in unleashing talent. But it's hard for most managers to think beyond meeting quarterly projections and enforcing job descriptions. "It's not that they tell [employees] they can't use their talents," Kelley says. "[Managers] don't even think of it as a possibility."
You and your managers can master the possibilities with strategic thinking. Start by making sure your recruiting tools are centered on developing talent. "When you sit down for an interview, is the discussion and conversation about talent?" Tucker says. "It has to come down to individual employee performance."
Use one-on-ones to find out what drives each employee. What are their hobbies and interests, and how do they feel they're being underutilized at work? Contemplate how you can incorporate their hidden talents, and phase in change slowly. You might let the receptionist spend two hours a week on a marketing project, for example, or allow a software engineer interested in sales to sit in on an occasional sales meeting.
Alliant Technologies LLC, a 5-year-old IT engineering and consulting company in Morristown, New Jersey, uses a survey tool called the Predictive Index (published by PI Worldwide of Wellesley, Massachusetts) to assess employee workstyles. When the 80-employee company tested workers in 2003, it found some people weren't using their true talents.
One engineer had an ability for sales, and another entry-level employee had a gift for detail-oriented projects. The company is having the engineer research market trends, and the entry-level employee is now in an administrative function. "We identified strengths and were able to move people into more effective positions," says founder and CEO Bruce Flitcroft, 38. Developing talent isn't hurting Alliant: Sales grew 34 percent in 2003 to $25 million.
Company meetings can also unearth hidden talents. Begin a discussion where employees can offer solutions to problems. You might be surprised what people know. "It's an opportunity for employees to unleash their talents," Kelley says.
What you do now will put your company ahead as talent wars heat up again, because the best firms will be consistent about identifying talent and putting it in the right place. "This is not a quick fix," says Tucker. "It's a cultural revamping."
Flitcroft's advice? Developing hidden talent takes time, but the results can be dramatic. "Of our 20 original [employees], 18 are still here," he says. "That's a damn good sign."
Archna 2nd August 2006 From India, Delhi