As you may have read from my most recent article, there are some fundamentals of successful talent management that we at The LAB believe are critical in helping companies of any shape, size or level of maturity create a platform for strength and growth. Consistency, transparency and flexibility are key factors. For this latest article we have focused our attention on the very people that these companies are seeking to attract, retain and develop.

Making your people aware that you manage talent is important. As is inviting your people to ask questions and to reflect on their career and aspirations. But what does it mean if some people show more interest than others? Do you assume that the less forthright individuals are not interested or are not as good? Or, is there something ‘invisible’ holding them back, perhaps something about who they are as a type of person?

We all have our own unique set of subconscious preferences which determine factors such as how we receive and analyse information, how we make decisions, how we prefer to be engaged and communicated with, and what environment we thrive best in. A recent research survey has reminded us that people of equal experience and calibre will think differently about their own abilities and potential to succeed – what is worth considering is how they then behave based on those thoughts, and in the context of promoting themselves and raising their visibility amongst the ‘talent’. Let’s take two people as examples to demonstrate this.

Person A looks at the specifics of say a talent programme or a job advert, and quickly surmises that they have 80% of what is required and the remaining 20% would surely just work itself out soon enough. They would go ahead and put themselves forward almost immediately and be pretty clear (and perhaps even a bit blunt) that they’re the right person and you don’t need to look any further.

Person B looks at those same specifics, surmises that they have 80% of what is required and the remaining 20% would be addressed through some support and development. They would reflect on what to do, consult with people they trust and perhaps request an ‘initial’ conversation with management. Then if everything felt right they might formally put themselves forward and if so would tell you that they feel they offer lots of potential and look forward to growing through this opportunity. Or they might not put themselves forward at all.

Now remember, both these people are of equal calibre and have the same potential to prosper and succeed through your talent programme. So how can you ensure that both are given the opportunity?

Having rich people data and analytics is fundamental to allow the right reactive and proactive conversations to take place with each of our people types. You will be able to measure their level of previous experience, look at their development and growth to date and understand their existing/potential capabilities as a leader. Use that data consistently in order to assess and calibrate your people within a talent matrix, and then, taking into account the type of people they are, consider the right way to engage and approach them in order to have a meaningful conversation.

The types of questions your people will have when considering their participation in a talent management programme will depend on the type of person they are, but could include:

  • How much of my time will it take up and what extra responsibilities will I need to take on?
  • Do I get a promotion at the end of the programme?
  • What if I am unable to (or choose note to) be part of the programme – what does that say about me, and will it impact me?
  • Do I have to tell my colleagues and team that I am on this programme?
  • Can I have a list of everyone else on the programme?
  • What do you need from me before the programme starts?
  • Will I have support from someone if I find the programme challenging?
  • What if the programme is easy? – can I help make it better?

This is a challenge that faces small and large companies alike who are looking for robust management around talent, performance and leadership. Many companies will look at talent management from the company perspective only, or solely at the aggregate level. Yet we highlight here the importance of looking at the individual level, and from the perspective of the employee. Depending on personality and a range of other factors which may include history within the company, career to date, and personal issues, inclusion within a formal talent management program may not automatically be viewed as a positive.

Indeed, our reflections here on understanding the type of person give support to an increasingly held view that talent management is ‘personality in the right place.’ Recognising that personality and the uniqueness of each individual in the organisation can only help develop a positive culture within which a strong talent management program can thrive.