Talent can be interpreted as a combination of attitude (drive, motivation
and goal orientation), skills and knowledge. It can also apply to future potential
and an individual’s ability to deliver raised levels of performance. One of the
most hyped talent ratings arose from McKinsey & Co’s groundbreaking study
the War for Talent where employees were sorted into A, B and C group.
A-types were high performers who needed to be challenged, Bs required
encouragement and affirmation while Cs had to shape up or be shipped out.
Why is it important?
The good news is that 94 per cent of organisations appreciate that having
the right employees improves their bottom line performance according to a
recent survey, Capitalising on Talent, from business psychology consultants
OPP. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you.
In most organisations the number of talented employees is likely to
outnumber the opportunities to progress to the most senior positions. In
addition, the same survey indicates that although 84 per cent of companies
believe they have talented employees that they are unaware of, they are not
taking active steps to find them.
Upping your talent rating will not only decrease the chances of you being
part of this statistic, but will help your long-term career development.
Where do I start?
Talented performers instinctively attach a great deal of importance to their
self-fulfilment, sense of achievement and enjoyment of work. So figure out what
you’re good at, where your true potential lies and the type of roles that suit
you best (there are many tools and techniques that can help you do this). If
you are not perfectly matched to your role, you won’t make the most of your
natural talents. Once these aims have been established, consult your manager
about putting an appropriate development plan into action. "Look at those
skills that would boost your performance the most, whether these are skills you
already have, or those that need improving, and focus your energies on
these," says Nathan Hobbs, head of the talent management consultancy team
Should I find a mentor?
In short, yes. Formal mentoring is recognised as a powerful way of developing
an individual’s capabilities and maximising their potential, particularly if
you are in the middle/senior manager bracket. It can broaden self-awareness,
pinpoint how any development programme tallies with career goals and help you
gain competencies faster. Even if your organisation doesn’t assign you a
mentor, an informal arrangement is a dead cert way of avoiding career pitfalls
as well as a worthwhile support mechanism for development planning.
Remember that a mentor doesn’t have to work at the same company. It could be
a family friend or someone you’ve met at the local parent teacher’s association
with senior management experience.
What if barriers stand in my way?
Individuals, circumstances and events can, on occasion, conspire against you
and prevent you from performing at your best. Regardless of whether these take
the form of the pressure of relentless deadlines, team tensions, or tasks not
being allocated to individuals who can best perform them. These limiting
factors can often be changed or dealt with. So raise the matter with your
What should I do once I have improved my ratings?
Past performance is no guarantee of future success so it is imperative that
you continue to remind senior managers of your high potential. Actively seek
fresh challenges and other ways to upgrade your performance. Make certain that
you communicate and document your achievements.
Your managers must also be confident that any promotion won’t overstretch
you. Earmark challenging and/or diverse assignments and projects that will
equip you with added experience and knowledge. Verify with them at the outset
how the assignment will develop the requisite skills for promotion.
Where can I get more info?
Capitalising on Talent
For a free copy contact Elise Ashcroft at OPP, Tel 01865 404 500
How to improve your market value visit www.personneltoday.com/goto/18892
How to… manage your career visit www.personneltoday.com/goto/17691
If you only do five things…
1 Work out where your potential lies
2 Consult your manager about an appropriate development plan
3 Find an experienced mentor
4 Seek fresh challenges and ways to upgrade your performance
5 Don’t be so future-focused you lose sight of current
expectations of you
Expert’s view Nathan Hobbs on
active talent management
Nathan Hobbs is head of the talent
management consultancy team at business psychology consultants, OPP.
the current thinking about talent?
Active talent management strategies are a growing trend,
particularly among global and multi-national companies. Identifying and
nurturing talented key workers, combined with recruitment practices designed to
incorporate longer-term resource planning requirements, are key elements of
this. Senior managers are beginning to realise that to do this effectively,
responsibility needs to be shared throughout management, and not just seen as
Educating line managers to take an active role in talent
management strategies equips them to assess, select, coach and promote your
staff in a meritocratic way.
How should organisations go about
spotting future potential?
Methods such as line manager appraisal and reviewing current
performance are currently the most common methods of assessing talent. However,
these only look at what has been achieved – talent is more about latent
To measure latent potential, methods such as the use of
psychometric instruments are more effective as they are proven to predict
What are the essential dos and
don’ts of getting your talents recognised?
– Take the initiative. Don’t wait to be asked, but proactively
identify opportunities where you can demonstrate your talent.
– When your manager is busy or away from the office, offer to
keep an eye on key projects. See how you could contribute to achieving a
Don’t bypass your manager, but work with them to make recommendations
to senior management.
– Do dress for the job you want not the job you have.
– Do act and communicate in a way that conveys your readiness
for increased responsibility.
– Don’t be seen as self-serving, competitive and over-promoting
your true capabilities.
– Don’t copy your boss into every e-mail you send. Instead,
collect evidence of your success and review it as part of appraisals and
– Don’t take every opportunity to sing your praises.
Demonstrate your talent by your actions and make sure your role in a successful
project is understood.