Monday, June 1, 2009

The Talent Ten: How to find and keep Talent

Everything we do and the way we do it will be reinvented in the next few years, and those who reap the benefits will be Talent Masters.

Talent: I love that word. The key people and leaders are the heart and spirit of any organization, and yet most firms don’t even know how many talented people they are losing.

Here are 10 ideas to vault Talent from soaring rhetoric to strategic reality:

1. Be obsessed with the pursuit of talent:
Turn your company into a talent machine. Think talent, love talent and know where to find it. To win the great War for Talent, put it at the top of your agenda, and keep it there. Time counts. Obsession counts. Have a real people person become a Connoisseur of Talent. The pursuit of talent is either an obsession or you’re not serious.

2. Look for greatness and hire only the best:
If you are a genuine Connoisseur of Talent, you won’t settle for anything less than the best. You will leave a job open- and, indeed, stress out some others in the process- before you will fill a slot with a mediocrity. Great talent pools are not kind to those who can’t pass the muster. So, do your Great Talent Pool a favor: Stress them out a little bit, but don’t surround them with
mediocrities chosen to “fill the chair”.

3. Hold people to serious performance standards:
Some people perform better than other people, and talent likes hanging out with talent. Talented people love to be pressed. They love to play against the best. They feed off the energy and vitality and spirit and spunk of their colleagues. To be sure, all of this puts extreme pressure on everybody to have a reason for being. One will either display distinction or become road kill.

4.It’s a sellers market: Top talent, in any field, are expensive, perhaps costing 10 times an average person in their function. Top-performing companies pay what it takes to acquire other top performers and prevent them from leaving. Do I think pay is the answer in the Great War of Talent ? No. I believe that the sine qua non is opportunity, the chance to shine, quickly. And if one is given a great opportunity and responds with vigor, then one should be rewarded. When I hear bosses complain of “ high turnover”, I suggest: pay your people more!

5.Youth : Grovel before the young: In the end, the Internet will change everything. And who will be leading this parade? Twenty-something’s. This is a young person’s crusade. I am curious, but I cannot be na├»ve! When you’re under 25, you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s the Age of Intellectual Capital. It’s the Age of Curiosity Rewarded. (Rather than Compliance Rewarded.) We need people who…from the get-go…will talk back! Who are determined to get ahead….fast.)

6. Diversity: Mess Rules : Creatively and great leaps forward come from mess, meaning all kinds of people providing all kinds of ideas that crazily bounce against one another and cause a lot of chaos- and occasionally cause a great idea to emerge, which changes the world. Creativity comes from unlikely juxtapositions. The best way to maximize difference is to mix ages, cultures, and disciplines.

7. Women: Born to Lead: Many professional women are waiting to be called into action. This isn’t about political correctness or Affirmative Action. It’s about talent-talent whose distinguishing scars and marks match the new needs of the new economy. Women focus more on relationships and are less rank-conscious. Women are more self-determined and trust-sensitive. They are more focused on empowerment, intuition, emotional sensitivity, empathy, and patience; they have a penchant for planning, networking, negotiating and co-operating.

8.Weird: The cracked Ones. Let in the light! Go to lunch with the same old folks, and you’ll hear the same old stuff. Surround yourself with weird employees, customers, suppliers and competitors. Hang with weird; you will be energized. In the new economy, we desperately need those non-conformists, dissenters and rebels. Weird, quirky talent rules.

9. Opportunity: Make it an adventure: Create a cause, imbue people with a sense of passion, instill in them a sense of adventure. To win the War of Talent, there must be Battles Worth Fighting. The opportunity to be part of an adventure matters from the get-go. Great talent springs from and is attracted to the chance to pursue great adventures. To create a talent-obsessed enterprise, create a culture of adventure.

10. Leading Genius: We are all unique: Who understands talent? Your kid’s third-grade teacher. Teachers are in the talent business. They understand that each of the six billion people God put on this earth is a totally unique human being who is engaged in a totally unique learning and growth trajectory. Talent is a “one-at-a-time thing.”

Your career is certifies by the Talent that you spotted before somebody else, and then nurtured to the point that they performed brilliantly and made a giant contribution to the enterprise.
Sure, cool leaders have cool visions. And those visions can inspire the masses. But mentoring leadership or talent development leadership is perhaps even more important.

In the War of Talent, only those who put talent at the top of their agendas are likely to survive.