A 1997 article from McKinsey & Co. coining the notion of “the war for talent” ventured that talent would be the most important corporate resource over the next two decades, and that it would be the resource in shortest supply. This reality requires organisations to shift from an approach of developing a strong but independent human resources department to developing an organisation obsessed with its talent at every level, and adopting a “talent mindset.”
“World – class organizations have learned that their competitive edge is driven by an integrated talent management strategy fully aligned with the business's mission and vision and meaningfully incorporated into its long – term strategic planning.” – Scott & Mattson
A talent mindset can be defined by a specific set of behaviours and beliefs that reside within an organisation and its employees that emphasise talented people as the core of its competitive advantage.
Everyone has people, but the real advantage is talented people.
“At the heart of the model is the “Talent Mindset” – a frame mind, or a culture where every manager feels ownership and accountability for talent on behalf of the organisation.” – Avedon & Scholes
Companies with a talent mindset believe:
- All employees have a role and responsibility for attracting, developing, retaining talent
- All employees should know, understand, and be able to articulate the companies mission, objectives and culture
- Leadership and talent are a true source of competitive advantage
- Innovation happens when you have the right talent to bring ideas to life
- High-potential candidates and future leaders develop best/fastest via a rich set of on-the-job experiences
- Management-level search is an opportunity to upgrade the leadership “gene pool”
- in training and career development
- in open, candid feedback mechanisms
- in meritocracy
What is not acceptable in such companies is “standing still” attempting to develop the staff the manager inherited or working around performance problems in the interest of short-term results or in a misguided attempt to maintain group morale.
Managers in talent mindset companies are expected to devote significant time to identifying and attracting future leadership talent
Executives in talent-mindset companies truly believe that having stronger leaders with better skills and a broader perspective on the business will lead to marketplace success. That’s why they challenge their managers to grow their leadership talent year-over-year since they know that treading water in terms of leadership capability inevitably means falling behind the competition.
In order to recruit the best talent, “Talent Mindset” organisations:
- clearly define their company mission, objectives and culture, then project this message uniformly
- clearly define the competencies required of particular roles,
- recruit using the best routes to market rather than the cheapest.
- select talent that will meet the unique organisational outlook and needs of each individual role.
The perceptions of key stakeholders, and more specifically current and potential employees, have of your organisation is vital to your recruitment effort.
An effective employer brand presents your organisation as a good employer and a great place to work, effectively communicating your organisation’s values, personality and culture to create the desired perceptions, however, the company can only attract the best talent if it has an identity that is true, credible, relevant, distinctive and aspirational
When hiring new individuals for your team start by identifying the competencies that are particularly important for a specific role and building out a profile for the position.
Strategically source from pools of talent where those competencies might be particularly strong.
Seek to find people who first and foremost align with and deeply believe in your unique core values, culture and mission, and then focus on those who exhibit in either past experience or through simulated situations that they have the skills and competencies necessary to be successful in your role.
Most companies recruit externally with the goal of filling a position, and thus focus on the candidate’s job-specific experience. By contrast, talent mindset companies — although interested in the person’s job experience — focus their attention on the individual’s leadership capability and potential for career growth.
They assess external candidates based on the same competencies used to promote internal managers to higher levels.
Talent Mindset companies are particularly interested in recruiting candidates with the following abilities:
- Abstract, conceptual thinking ability and comfort in dealing with ambiguity: keys to strategic thinking.
- Risk-taking and level of comfort in standing alone and going against the “organization grain”: the foundation elements of innovation and leading change, even if that entails pushing the organization out of its comfort zone in the interest of implementing change.
- Empathy and organization knowledge/savvy: the empathy to read people and situations and the ability to influence peers and co-workers in order to successfully drive initiatives that cross organizational boundaries.
- The ability to set high standards while letting go of certain details: critical components of managing implementation without the manager getting unduly tied up in detail or succumbing to micromanagement.