Talented people at the right places are very important for the rapid growth of the organisation. Nonetheless, talent, if not guided and nurtured well, may not be able to grow and reach to its fullest potential. Developing talent therefore is important as competitive advantage of the organisation hinges on its people.
Normally, it is believed, that training and development - both classroom and outbound coupled with on-the-job training, mentoring and coaching could help develop talent. This might be true to a great extent but if organisations in addition also do the following things they will be able to develop talent in a much better manner:
Genuine interest by top leadership team: Usually the top leadership team talks about talent development. They generally have the intention to develop talent but in reality how much time do they actually spend in developing their talent? Maybe because of lack of time, business pressures etc. But, when the top management team fails to translate the intention into action, talent development becomes a tick mark than a serious affair. Only when the leadership team spends genuine and dedicated time on the development of people in disciplined fashion; initiates reviewing their second and third level on "how they are developing their people," real talent development happens. The big question however is "how to convert intention into action for developing talent?" Secondly, how much time does the top management spend with their people?
Give feedback: Many of us normally say "I don't mind taking negative/critical feedback". Reality is that it often hurts even though it is descriptive, non-evaluative, and specific. Nevertheless, negative feedback is one of the best tools which help people improve immensely. So the question is - How do you give feedback, particularly to the people who are bright but egoist; smart but short tempered; knowledgeable but not good listeners? Start with small positive feedback as we all like it. This gives an opportunity to see whether the person you have given feedback to implements the feedback or not. If the person implements the feedback, it clearly indicates a better emotional connect with the person who has given the feedback.
Expose the talent with unreasonable and demanding leaders: It is very important once in a while to work with an unreasonable, demanding, and difficult (but not bully) boss. Such bosses help you to set high standards, challenge you to do better and think differently.
Structured rotation: Imagine you are one of the lucky supervisors of a couple of employees who have performed exceedingly well in your team. What happens when these employees approach you with a proposal to change their roles and move out of the team/department/vertical? Ironically, most of the time, good performers are not released or rotated for the simple reason that they are doing well and their managers are not willing to let them go to other departments or verticals. Are we really developing these individuals into multi-faceted managers? In a business world which is complex, hostile and above all dynamic, are we preparing the leaders who are agile, understand different facets of business and can talk to the customers intelligently about the organisation as a whole? Are we deliberately putting the leaders into new, complex and ambiguous circumstances and therefore helping them learn how to handle different situations? Or just asking them to perform the job which they have mastered? Let's not forget the fact that the problems of tomorrow may not be addressed by any one specialty; rather, multi-disciplinary approaches encompassing various areas of expertise will prevail over the competition.
Educate people about the art of framing and asking the right question: How many times have you felt after asking a question "Wish I would have framed and asked this question differently?" Finding the right answer is difficult unless we have asked right question. When one is not able to frame the questions appropriately there may be a danger of getting exposed adversely in front of employees, superiors or customers. It is therefore important for the organisation to help learn how to frame and ask the right questions. It is normally suggested that continuous reading in varied areas, reflection and understanding of the context come handy in framing the questions. Also, at times writing down the question before asking helps articulate it better. Remember, your question tells a tale about you and your organisation.
Organisations have to be a ‘talent magnet' today as there are very few ways in which they can achieve sustainable competitive advantage. It is difficult to build a great organisation without grooming and nurturing talent from within.
The author is Dr. Mrityunjay Srivastava, GM and head of transformational leadership development initiatives, corporate human resources development, Wipro Limited.