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Unlocking Hidden Talents

All of us have hidden talents, identifying and tapping them is one of the most important thing that one can do in one’s life which paves the way for both adaptability & self-improvement. It has a lot to do with one’s professional aspirations and quality of life one would want to live. A career triggers both a challenge and the opportunity to unlock hidden skills. The same goes with organizations too. It is only those organizations who have formalized a structured way to unlock talents grows and manage to retain their employees.

It is estimated that one-in-six employee intends to leave his job in the next 6 months, while up to 50% depart within three years. This is bad news and this can get worse if organizations fail to rise to the talent challenges as it can severely impact employee engagement levels and deeply dent the top and bottom lines.

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Globalization of economy and volatility of business climate has forced organizations to reduce workforce, streamline workflows, contain cost, flatten organization structure and identify, develop & harness new skills and technology to improve efficiency. In simple words “produce more for less”.

Workforce demographic is another volatile subject. Organizations today are faced with multiple challenges and among them is migration of talent across multiple sites based on business needs and also the challenges of balancing the needs of Gen X, Y & Z. Harnessing the hidden talents can not only transform business process but, also maximize the use of employee potential. Regardless of the industry, successful organizations are those who are able to discover the talent within them and are able to leverage it effectively.

 

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Talent management is a continuous strategic process which provides the ability to identify, create and effectively use talent to achieve organizational objectives. It is to be viewed as a business enabler and therefore be considered top most business priority which focuses on creating value to the customers and business. Like any change initiatives, introducing talent management process needs to be preceded by setting clear objectives and understanding of what is to be achieved and what are the key benchmarks. For building a strong organization and to be future ready the talent management strategy should be integrated in to the company’s overall strategy which would contribute to its growth and success.

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Skill Development Plan (SDP) central to unlocking hidden talent

Employees today in particular the younger generation are motivated by opportunity of new challenges and therefore are willing to take risks in pursuit of gaining experience. Most employees today don’t want to be restricted or restrained to fulfill one job description for at least two or more reasons given below:-

  1. Eagerness to perform to their full capacity and are willing to explore
  2. A role change or job rotation presents new challenges which stimulates ones creative ability and provides opportunity to explore the unknown to find alternate and better ways
  3. Inability to maintain high levels of excitement if one continues to repeat the same activity over a prolonged period of time (this time span can vary from person to person)
  4. Deep rooted belief in “Skill development is the key to career development”
  5. Out of fear of being branded as stereotype and predictable

Organizations have to tailor their skill development plans to coincide with the interest of the employees. This demands line managers to invest time to understand the aspirations of each employee. The irony is most line managers view training and development programs for their team or team-members as a short-term loss of resource which also contributes to increases in work load on others to produce more and therefore remain disconnected. This is a short-sighted approach and makes performance management discussions and retention difficult.

 

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Career Development Plan (CDP) central to employee unlocking hidden talent

Employees expect meaningful career development opportunities. It therefore is essential to establish and align employee strength and interests with career goals and opportunities within the organization. It is the responsibility of the line managers supported by the organization and guided by the Talent Management strategy to mentor their direct reports and enable them to take up responsibility of their own career development. This will require the line managers to invest time to understand about his or her direct reports to collaborate with them for mapping his or her career path.

 

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With the organization structure becoming flat, the opportunity to move vertically upward is limited leaving scope only for lateral or horizontal movement. Though a flat organization structure offers higher levels of autonomy to the employees, it essentially also denies the professional experience of managing others, which in the perception of the employee is likely to impact the comparative advantage in the job market as several organizations still have a pyramidal structure.

 

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The key, probably, is to make an effort to redefine career progression and help employees understand that advancement is more than moving up the organizations’ hierarchy. It also means competency development, cross-functional responsibilities, autonomy, quality circle & team memberships and last but not the least recognition of value they bring to the organization. To instil trust and higher levels of engagement, reviews are required to include the foregoing so as to assess focus and progress in these areas apart from their regular targets.

Employee Performance Management (EPM) central to unlocking hidden talent

Performance reviews creates an ideal platform for employee professional growth and skill development.

Goal setting & Performance reviews essentially has to be a two way communication between the manager and the employee.

  1. The goals have to provide opportunity to work on projects that are slightly beyond current skill and knowledge.
  2. Set realistic expectations on what competencies and skills are required for them to be promoted to the next level.
  3. Performance reviews should cover highlights of success and discuss and brainstorm over ongoing challenges
  4. Explain organizations’ future plans, discuss action plans to uncover skills needed to perform effectively and align it with employees career aspirations.
  5. Wrap up performance review discussion by thanking the employee for his participation and assuring support to create opportunities for skill development and experience to accomplish his career goals.

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