Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Talent and the rest of us!
Talent and the rest of us!
Rachel Burnham writes: There was a lot of talk over the course of Wimbledon about ‘Talent’ and how best to manage it. I have a confession – I hate the term ‘Talent’ and how it is often used in HR. Clearly there are people with great talent – top tennis players come to mind, I have had the experience of working with some fabulous managers and I had the great pleasure of watching the undoubtedly talented Wynton Marsalis play the trumpet a couple of weeks ago at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall.
What I dislike is the use of the term ‘Talent’ to refer to the ‘few’ within an organisation, in contrast to the rest of us – those of us who are doing the ‘grunt’ work – the great unwashed.
Notice who I identify with. Not from any sense of false modesty. I know have days when I am truly on form and in flow. I can be spectacular at what I do. When I am in rapport with the people I am working with. When I am listening hard & well. When the right questions come to mind. When I listen to my heart and my head. When I whizz through the paperwork with focus & determination.
But, I also have days when I am really rather pedestrian. When I talk too much. When I am unfocused. When I am a bit grumpy. And when I am mean-spirited. Fortunately, not usually all at the same time!
I have worked hard over the years to enable me to be spectacular more of the time.
And I have found ways to raise my own personal standards & skills, so that even on the not so great days, I can still be very good.
High performing organisations depend upon high performance, day in day out, by a great many people in all sorts of roles. So why focus our attention only on the ‘few’? Why have a performance management system as some organisations do, that insists on identifying a set percentage of people as under-performing?
This kind of approach doesn’t fit with my experience of the huge potential that we all have within us – though I acknowledge that sometimes this can be well hidden! The idea of the ‘few’ talented doesn’t sit well with my values - politically nor spiritually.
So much of what we look at in HR and L&D is about enabling people, so why adopt language and processes that implicitly write off most people? Why not work to enable everyone to perform spectacularly, more of the time?
9 July 2014
Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals become even more effective. I am particularly interested in blended learning, the uses of social media for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance.
Follow me on Twitter @BurnhamLandD