23/07/2010

By Andrew Lester, Managing Partner of Carr-Michael Consulting

Talented people are everywhere. The trouble is they may be talented in ways that help or hinder the business. Many business owners and managers regularly see employees who spend more time and expend more intellectual energy working on how to avoid doing something rather than just getting on and doing it. The issue in most cases is not that the employees are not talented, it is that their talents are not appropriately tuned to what the business is trying to achieve. In some companies this leads to “politics”: opposing views of what should be being worked on. But this is also true for small companies where siblings or different generations have not agreed on a single strategy.

Despite this rather negative view, the truth is that most companies have plenty of talent. It is more a question of unleashing it in controlled ways than anything else. If this is true then the obvious question arises: Who Are The Talented?

Answering the question is often easy. The difficulty is in agreeing what are the criteria that define “talent” in your business. Too often we just look to people who are very efficient and effective at what they do. They are great “operators”. They work quickly, rarely make mistakes and deliver. The trouble with this all too common view of “Talent” is that it fails to measure people’s overall impact on an organisation. Great “operators” may well deliver the cash, but if they do so in a declining market, the shareholders and employees eventually run out of road. So as we all know the identifying Talent in your company is not just about who delivers today, it is about who delivers today and tomorrow.

Finding out who is talented in your company is therefore not a simple question. It should be a structured set of questions against a relevant set of criteria that define not only the skills and competencies needed today, but also those that will deliver growth for the business over the planned future. Although operational excellence in your current business is key today, there is no point holding on long term to the talent that delivers it, if the current business does not need those skills in a few years time.

Identifying the Talent in your company must therefore be based on the criteria that deliver results today and drive new business tomorrow. Often this identifies very different people in the company. Those who are more “left brained” thinkers: they prefer a structured and controlled way of working, and those that are more “right brained” thinkers, those who prefer open styles of working and enjoy change. In addition, both types also need to score highly on the core values of the company that produce the cohesion and focus needed to compete in ever changing and increasingly competitive markets.

Please feel free to comment by contacting me: andrewlester@carr-michael.com.

Andrew Lester is Managing Partner of Carr-Michael Consulting, specialists in growth management and business performance improvement.

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