Managing Your Talent

Mark McCormack
Business Development Manager
Creativedge Training & Development Ltd
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Few corporate assets are more critical to sustainable competitive advantage than a talented workforce. As such, managing your talent has increasingly become a strategic issue for both employers and candidates.

You may be fortunate to have some very talented people in your organisation who show the potential to do even more amazing things in the future. But how do you to harness that potential?

Here are 5 Tips for managing your talent:

1. Clarify organisational needs

Before you launch into developing your most talented people, it’s worth considering what the business needs of the future are.

  • What type of leaders and managers will be important?
  • How will they need to behave?
  • What specifically will they need to know and do?
  • Will you need specialist skills or people with a breadth of experience across the business?

If you will need technical specialists, don’t underestimate the importance of business and interpersonal skills. You’ll need people that have a sound understanding of the business context who can communicate, influence, build relationships and get things done.

Some organisations mistakenly place too much emphasis on technical skills and then, when their ‘talent’ is promoted, they have difficulty in managing the people dynamics and working at a strategic level.

2. Identify your talent

How can you make sure that you focus your time, effort and resources on the right people? How do you differentiate those with potential from those who are simply good at what they do? One way is to assess each person against three criteria:

  • Commitment – how have they demonstrated this and what’s been the impact?
  • Career Aspirations – what are they and how do they fit with the organisation’s future needs?
  • Capability – do they regularly demonstrate the capability to do more and, if so, how?

3. Manage expectations

One of the challenges of identifying people as ‘talent’ and letting them know, is that they can become complacent and believe that the organisation will ‘sort out’ their career for them.

It’s really important that you communicate expectations at the outset. How much time and effort do you expect them to put into driving their own development? What specifically will they need to do? How will they find the time to do this? And, of course, what can they expect in return?

4. Keep a finger on the pulse

Pay close attention to how people feel about their work and take proactive steps to keep your talent from walking out the door. Explore with team members – either during appraisals or more informally – what makes them tick. What are their values? What motivates them? Identify recurrent problems.

Continuously ask what matters most and respond to what you hear. Understand the needs and aspirations of individuals, so you can explore creative ways to motivate them. Work with them to identify underlying needs and plan how you can help them meet them.

5. Create meaningful, exciting jobs

Star employees are more likely to stay if they feel fulfilled in their jobs. Mold roles and responsibilities to individual strengths wherever possible. If feasible, losing an unappealing element of a job could encourage a team member to stay.

Often, people enjoy a challenging role more than one which does not stretch them sufficiently. So construct jobs that stretch individuals. Consider job-swapping, job enrichment, or projects to maintain interest and provide opportunities for personal development.

Set clear objectives. Employees want goals to work towards and milestones against which they can assess their progress. Show how their input is tied to corporate goals.

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