For the longest time known to any businesses globally, organizations have believed high performers with high potential are the part of its elite talent pool. Before we look into this more deeply, let us understand what potential is. For far too long, potential has been a subject of evaluation in talent frameworks and competency model-based assessment centers and development centers. However, a fundamental shift in the whole talent management space is occurring today.
When you design your organization’s talent framework and model, you mandatorily have to keep in mind the speed at which your talent pool’s aspirations, your market, your business, and your consumers’ preferences changes today. My take on talent is a rather personal and insightful. The most impactful area of consideration is the change that occurs in the desires and aspirations of younger managers and leaders with high potential.
How many people (potential talent) do you know who have tried to highlight their “real as I am” and not their “I want to be perceived as this” personality when responding to a psychometric questionnaire or an assessment center in a talent management program? It is very possible that when our talent pool is assessed, they end up displaying their “to be” persona, which is often far away from their “as is” persona. This poses an acute challenge to the accuracy of any talent management frameworks we get to use. A smart performer will seldom refrain from creating a look-good-and-feel-good persona for his assessment reports. This helps him make gains later on.
Personally, I have had the good fortune to get closely involved in designing and conducting several assessment processes for my past employers. In contrast to what I learnt while managing these processes in real, I found most of the literature on talent and potential far-fetched, over-complicated and over exaggerated. But I must admit all the new-age tools, next-generation evolved techniques, and virtual assessment measurement tools and processes we have today have very smartly covered up the gaps that existed for a very, very long time in the talent management space. You can now trust the results of a good talent management intervention up to a fair degree of credibility and accuracy.
A word of caution for organizations embarking on this journey: spend real pounds and not mere pennies on it, so that you hire and engage the best firms, assessors, coaches, and resources. If you do not do this and you do something substandard, you cannot expect miracles or outstanding results. Talent management is an area where the results equal the quality and sincerity of the investments, we put into it (stakeholders’ time, effort, and money).
Personally, I still feel that the full potential of any organization’s talent pool is neither fully hidden nor fully tapped ever. My definition of potential is that which comes to use when needed. What good is our potential, which is never utilized but always gets measured? As I said before, there are indeed several perennial flaws in the traditional talent management process. We keep measuring, assessing and analyzing our top-performing managers’ potential, and most often, we do not get around to using their potential. By the time, we act to promote or move the talented, high-potential individuals (delayed already due to perennial power, politics, and bureaucracy issues in large organizations), it is already too late.
Your Top Talents, therefore, often choose to find a suitable opportunity themselves, or the market finds out about him or her anyway. We need to understand that appreciation and growth are two of the most basic human needs for talented professionals, and VUCA times require us to rework our talent rotation and promotion plans very aggressively.
Gone are the days of five or six years in every role. Chances are that your high-potential talent will become extremely bored with what he or she does in a couple of years, so you must keep an eye on revisiting your top talent’s career plans every two years religiously. Another factor, to keep in mind is that quite often, all talent pool–building initiatives are subjected to cuts in scale, investments and efforts even though it is quite well understood that the talent management approach of any organization is a key culture-building initiative. The time has also come when you and I need to refer to a VUCA era every day and the view of talent it offers.
In fact, some of the biggest businesses, which perhaps were the biggest source of industry benchmark talent, are no longer in business. You know what they missed. They did not have talent, which had strong character. Leadership in itself is no longer about planning, organizing, controlling, or coordinating or the managerial grid alone. It is beyond that.
I believe in the end; it is the organizations that can actually commit to working on their culture and commit to develop their talent will truly receive the “We Have the Talent” award without the need of getting it from any outside agency and their own People & Culture will bestow it upon them with the results that will continue to follow.
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