Do you have workers? Or do you have talents in your business? What’s the difference?
A lot. When I first started out in business I wasn’t generating enough cash flow. Because I didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay good people, I ended up hiring people who were willing to work at a cheaper rate. So, I hired people who were less experienced and ended up having to devote hundreds of hours into training them to become competent in their work. It wasn’t just my time that was wasted. My business partner had to chip in her time as well. And then we noticed a trend. Every couple of months and up to a year, the people we’d spent so much time training, were quitting. They were trained. They had the skills and they were going elsewhere that pays better than what we could afford. We were bleeding talent that we’d nurtured. This went on for quite a while. I can count about a dozen good people we’ve trained who have left us for greener pastures.
That means over a period of about two to three years, we had hired, trained and replaced about two dozen employees – the initial twelve who had left and the next twelve who replaced them. It was highly inefficient because we were spending so much time training talent for others that we did not have time to grow the business.
This comes back to my original question: “Do you have workers? Or do you have talent in your business”.
The difference between a worker and a talent
A worker, in my opinion, is someone who can get the job done but may need a lot of training, coaching and some hand-holding to get there. Does that sound familiar to you? Perhaps you can think of a few individuals in your organisation that fit this mold?
A talent, on the other hand, refers to someone who may need some initial training and guidance but can easily slip into the role because of their past experience, skills and knowledge. Talent in the organisational context usually refers to people with exceptional skills and abilities. These skills and abilities can be innate – a natural aptitude the person is born with or they can be acquired for example knowledge garnered from years of experience or skills acquired and honed over time.
While it’s okay in some scenarios to have a worker, it is best to have talented people in your organisation because you don’t have to worry about them not delivering results. Talented people are driven by results and can become an asset in helping the company achieve its goals.
Talented people are usually quick learners and usually start producing results early. They have emotional intelligence and are great communicators and efficient workers. They are confident of their abilities and therefore not afraid to share information or knowledge with others.
The more senior the role, the more important talent becomes. At the leadership level, very few organisations are interested in hiring an ordinary worker. Organisations cannot afford to invest in a mediocre leader without the vision to inspire its people or the drive to push the company to unlimited growth and success. That’s why companies are prepared to pay top dollar to hire the best CEO.
Aligning talent to an organisation’s values
When it comes to hiring talent, just finding the best is not good enough. You also have to find the best fit for your organisation. Do they understand the culture? Can they perform in this environment? Are they comfortable interacting with existing staff? Do the organisation’s core values resonate with them? Are goals aligned? Can they articulate the vision and inspire action?
To align talent to your organisations consider the following:
- Understand your value agenda. Align your organisation’s ambitions by deconstructing what drives value across departments.
- Identify crucial roles. Understanding the most critical roles based on a value agenda and what matters most can help you make informed strategic decisions.
- Determine what experiences, skills and traits are needed and back this up with new hire or staff training and development.
- Get the right talent in the right roles. Assess the fit and match the talent that fits these criteria.
Is it worth the price?
Hiring the right talent for your organisation may require you to pay higher salaries and offer better incentives. How prepared are you to go down that road? Really good and talented people are not just attracted to a big paycheck. They are also interested in companies that have values that are aligned with theirs and a healthy culture that allows them to grow and develop. To what extent is your company prepared to make big shifts to attract the best talent?
How to identify and grow talent
As a talent management strategist, I help large corporations create a talent management plan that is tailored to the organisation’s unique culture and values. If you are keen to identify and grow talent in your organisation here are a few useful tips to help you get started:
1. Plan ahead.
One of the most common questions employees are asked in an interview is ‘Where do you think you’ll be in five years time?’ Very few managers ask themselves the same question. Asking this question is extremely important if you are planning to hire good people into your team. Think about where you want your business or department to be in five years time then go out and find the talent with the skills, aptitude or knowledge that matches your five-year plan. Hiring talent is about bringing in great people who can make a difference so if you know what you need to succeed, you find the right people that matches what you want.
2. Focus on the right traits
When hiring talent, think future rather than the present. It’s easy to be impressed by a candidate’s CV. When interviewing a potential talent, don’t just look at how well he or she has performed in the past, how much experience they have or what they have studied at university. These factors are important because they show you that the person will be competent in his or her role. Of greater importance are what I termed ‘foundational’ traits – the aptitude, emotional intelligence, interest in learning and skills acquisition that demonstrate that the individual can easily fit into any role. If he or she excels in their current position, promoting them to the next level may be easier. Also, jobs specifications change all the time. The specifications used to hire the person now may not be the same specifications that they have to work in later down the track. You are aiming to hire an individual who is flexible and adaptable.
3. Think diversity
We tend to hire people who resemble us. Ideally, your organisation should be investing in a talent pool, not clones. In order for your business to grow and be successful, you need talented people with different skills, profiles and experiences. The more diversity you have, the more new knowledge and creativity you bring into the organisation.
4. Look within
Sometimes talent can be homegrown. In-house talent is brilliant because the individual is already a part of the organisation. He or she understands the culture and can easily assimilate into the existing structure. An employee reward system that appreciates good people can motivate the entire workforce to be better at their jobs.
Do you have systems in place to identify in-house talent? Are there plans in place to train the high achievers in your company?
5. Reward all not a few
Workers can only work to a certain speed or volume. They are productive to a certain level only but that does not mean that they are not useful to the company. Every employee is useful to the company however small or simple their role may be. You hire talent because they add value to the organisation. If your business is successful, talents make it more successful. If your business is struggling, talents may be what you need to recover and improve. An effective employee reward scheme is one that rewards everyone, not just one or two-star performers. The bigger the rewards for good work, the higher the incentive and motivation to work. Who knows? The promise of great rewards may incentivise the rest of the team to work harder and better.
The upside to hiring talent is that you can get faster results, better quality and quicker deliveries. That is the fundamental difference between paying for talent and hiring a mere worker. I started this article by describing my early years in business where I did not understand the value added talents can bring to a company. Once I understood the value of hiring talented people, I started paying better salaries to attract quality people. The end result is that I now own a successful business. How did I manage to achieve that? Simple. I no longer have to spend the bulk of my time hiring and aligning people to my organisation because the talented people I invested in were happy working for the company and see no reason why they should go elsewhere. Together, we were able to focus on the business and grow it to become the success it is today. Talent worked for my organisation. It can work for yours too.
As a business, HR and career strategist, Thai Ngo has worked with some of the biggest businesses in Australia to help people fulfil their professional potential. Thai firmly believes that the biggest barrier to success is often ourselves, but with the right guidance and the right perspective, that barrier can be overcome. Now he works with businesses, leaders and individuals to tap into their existing talent to create the professional and personal life they desire.