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Talent Management or Employee Effectiveness

Talent Do you sometimes feel that the world is being swamped by the new jargon of 'Talent Management'? Pick up a management magazine or read the business section of the newspaper and you will almost invariably find something about talent or talent management.

It is as if the HR profession has discovered something new and is trying to justify its importance with this remarkable breakthrough and all that is associated with it and overseeing the resultant 'talent pool'. What has changed? Didn't companies have talent before?

At a recent conference a speaker described how much nicer it was to refer to people as talent. Then, with no sense of the irony of what she was saying, she went on to describe how the Talent Management function had made great progress and identified 1% of the workforce as "high potentials" for accelerated learning and development within the organisation. She seemed equally oblivious to the negative effect that this might have on employee engagement.

Indeed the whole approach to both recruitment and talent management seems to be that you hire and manage talent as a discrete entity, completely separate from the people it comes attached to. Complaints about the difficulty in recruiting "the right talent" and the depictions of the "war for talent" compound this and imply a profession that has hardly progressed from regarding employees as "hired hands." There is still no recognition of the totality of the person.

Such focus on talent begs the question "Is the current generation less talented and less capable than previous generations?" The answer to that can only be an emphatic "No!" This certainly suggests that the approach is still wrong. Is the fundamental issue not more about people effectiveness rather than talent management?

I would suggest it is, and therefore that, if we really want to get to grips with the issues, we need to start by recognising the challenge for what it really is. Employees are people, and if you want to maximise talent you need to regard them as such, and help them maximise personal potential. That is the best way to nurture talent, without belittling your people. Anything less than a universal approach is divisive and will perpetuate your employee engagement problem.

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