This may be an obvious question but why would we try to win with people who do not have the talent to do the work? Unfortunately that is exactly what most organizations do as they are unwilling to screen for talent when selecting incumbent or external candidates. I encourage you to read the June 3, 2014 article in Gallup Business Journal on this topic, To Win With Natural Talent, Go For Additive Effects.
The authors state “Though researchers have made huge strides in understanding human behavior and motivation, few businesses are actually applying these findings. As a result, companies miss out on unprecedented opportunities for growth and revenue because they don’t understand the impact of human nature in the workplace.” I wonder what it is going to take to shift organizations away from selection practices that were developed in a world that no longer exists. It is as if managers and HR teams are holding on to the past in a futile effort to prove that past practices should never be abandoned. Yet researchers and thought leaders consistently suggest that the skills that have created past successes are not necessarily those that will create future successes. Just doing more of what was done in the past will not help organizations thrive in complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty. There needs to be a profound shift in practice and that is a shift to screening on talent.
The authors explain “Gallup discovered that four human capital strategies combine in a powerful way to add up to 59% more growth in revenue per employee.” Three of those four human capital strategies are directly related to talent selection. With that level of revenue potential lost, I wonder why executive teams are not demanding a change in HR practices to transform the organization. The strategies include:
- Strategy 1: Select managers with natural talent
If someone is not suited to be a manager, do not put them in a management role. The question is how do you know? There are specific business behaviors and cognitive requirements for a manager to be effective and selecting for those attributes is critical. Past performance is not the best predictor of management talent, assessing potential is. Luckily there are excellent solutions in the market to help in this process.
- Strategy 2: Select the right individual contributors
For the same reasons that one selects a manager based on talent, one selects individual contributors on talent. Why would you hire a person who had the talent to be a bookkeeper for a sales position? You would not. Luckily the same solutions that are used to select management talent are used to select individual contributors.
- Strategy 3: Engage employees
Organizations invest a huge amount of resources both internally and externally to gauge and improve employee engagement. But here is the rude awakening, if all of these dollars are being spent on people who should not be in their positions. the investment is wasted. I often tell organization managers, do not expect me to fix a bad hire with training and development. It simply is not going to happen. Nor are employee engagement strategies invested on bad hires going to improve the lives of those team members or the organization. You want engaged team members? Give them work that they are suited to do then treat them with respect. Seriously this is not as hard as we make it.
- Strategy 4: Focus on strengths
How many review processes and coaching processes within organizations are focused on addressing weaknesses. Although Gallup research has shown again and again that focusing on strengths is what accelerates performance, many managers and HR departments are still operating in the stone age of trying to force people to do what they do not have the talent to do. If you want employees to be engaged, motivated, and productive, give them work that builds on their strengths, read natural talents, then treat them with respect. Generally people will demonstrate strength in those things that they have talent to do. I am a broken record on this. The damage to team members and organizations is staggering with current practices of trying to fix people or force them to be who they are not.
I encourage you to read this excellent Gallup article and reach out to learn more about how to implement talent selection in your organization.