Monday, August 4, 2014

TAL•ENT•ED A Lesson in Engagement

What does it mean to be talented? How do we invest in talented people to keep them engaged? 
  1. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

    "Talent means the skill that someone has quite naturally to do something that is hard. Someone who has talent is able to do something without trying hard. It is an ability that someone is born with. It is a high degree of ability or of aptitudes."

    Gallup recently conducted another employee engagement study in 2013, finding that a mere 13% of the world's employees are actively engaged. 13%. Stark! 

    Everyone has talent and a capacity for success. The secret is to be able to identify this potential in others and to invest in that potential appropriately. 

    We are born with talent. Talent exists in our areas of rapid learning. It would make sense then that holding a person back from exposure and larger responsibility in areas of his or her talent for the sake of gaining more years of experience would be incredibly disengaging. For someone who isn't talented in the same skill or field, sure. That makes sense. 

    I look to the practices of Gifted and Talented children in schools. These kids are academically talented. They aren't required to do the work that they naturally know. If they are able to achieve the result they move on and focus where they can be challenged. Sometimes I wonder if these companies studied by Gallup are making employees do hours of arithmatic when they hunger for calculus. If these companies are forcing employees to complete the required work of a third grader even if they are ready to take on fifth grade level work.

    Today's workforce is populated by Gen Y, followed closely behind by Gen X. What you will find in numerous publications is the importance to Gen Y of investing in unique talent. When you hire for potential and invest in it appropriately, growth and the need for change happens at a more rapid pace.

    As a result, today's workforce values an environment that invests in employees based on their talent, or potential to succeed in the role, combined with the results that are delivered. Today's workforce will struggle to understand investing based on how long someone has been in their role because they are use to learning rapidly and moving on to the next challenge. 

    Looking back even 5-10 years, the environment was different. Just as we study our external customer demographics and adjust marketing strategies to keep the customer engaged and loyal, we must do the same for our employees. Just because the strategy changes doesn't mean that who you are as a company does. It means that you are adaptable to an ever-changing environment. This is how you survive.

    The future success of business today depends on our ability to adapt to how we invest in our people. The survival of the fittest will be won by the companies who are able to evolve. Employee engagement and talent investment will continue to be the biggest and smartest hurdle for every company to focus on. 

    Want more smiling faces? The first step is awareness of how you view people. Do you see your employees the way they see one another? Do you invest in your employees in a way that adds value to their experience? Align your view and act according to reap the rewards of engagement!

    Remember, front-line employees treat customers the way they are treated. In a leadership position, your guest is internal. The next time you have a customer complaint (AKA disengaged customer) ask yourself, "what does their story say about my service to my team?"