“The role of the company chairman and CEO in the 21st century will be to provide a vision and to choose the best people.”

Jack Welch, Chairman and CEO of General Electric (1980-2001)

  1. Time and resources! The first commandment: your job will be to devote yourself body and soul to nurturing talent in your organization.
  2. Talent strategist: You will carry out an in-depth analysis of the needs of your company in terms of the talent required, the skills needed, and the level of commitment and performance sought. Furthermore, you will determine the value which the company gives to its employees; in other words, you will determine the reasons why someone decides to start working -and subsequently to keep on working- for the company, and the benefits which this person perceives the company gives him.
  3. The Casanova factor: You will be in regular contact with the main sources of talent available to you (universities, professional bodies, associations, your competitors), and you will be well-known to them. In addition, you will clearly communicate your company’s strong points. In a word, you need to seduce potential employees.You also need to be flexible about where you look for talent. It stands to reason that if your company is looking to innovate, it won’t want to hire a series of clones; and it is equally the case that you won’t put together a diverse team if you only hire engineers who go to “X” university and come top of their class.Seduction has to run through everything you do (in the area of talent management…). So you can say goodbye to the old, tried and trusted ways of hiring people, and start to use your imagination. How about putting out some more creative ads when looking for new people? Why not ask applicants to mention on their CVs their hobbies, any voluntary work they’ve done, the sports they play, and the trips they’ve been on? After all, if you want to know who you going to hire and what type of person they are, you will want to go beyond just their academic qualifications,.
  4. Keeping tabs on talent: You will keep up-to-date with movements in the market and will be on the lookout for possible manoeuvres by your competitors. What’s more, these days you need to be more alert than ever: the Internet has made communication and job-seeking much easier and quicker for everyone- your own staff included.
  5. A connoisseur of talent: You will select people based on their abilities, level of commitment and their potential. An employee who is committed to his company will be motivated to contribute ideas and feels part of the organization. Does your selection process take into account candidates’ psychological potential to commit themselves to the company? In addition, you will need to take on a range of different people if you want to innovate, and you’ll also need to be very flexible. Bear in mind that the genuinely talented professional is very demanding and may ask you more questions in the job interview than you ask him! If this happens, it’s actually a good sign: this type of person knows what he wants, and he realises that he is in a position to choose precisely because he is very good at his job.
  6. A trainer of trainers: You will use the plans which the company undertakes as a means towards staff development. You will make sure that your organization does not have glass ceilings, and that people are able to develop professionally in their jobs, without waiting to be promoted. You will also participate in the identification of possible candidates for promotion and in making sure they receive the appropriate training.
  7. A builder of commitment: You will build a protective moat around the company so that people do not want to leave. You will do this by having an appropriate style of leadership, by gradually changing the prevailing company culture if there are problems in that area, by promoting a good working atmosphere, and by making sure that salary levels are fair within the company, and in comparison to your competitors. Of course, we always have the best of intentions in this regard- to lead well, to pay well, a good company culture, etc. But, as the Bible says: “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew, 26: 41). In view of this, you need to evaluate the current situation objectively, and then to take the appropriate stops to remedy any shortcomings detected: for example, by developing leadership skills through coaching programs, by initiating a change in the company culture, or by reviewing salary scales. And don’t lose sight of the ultimate aim of all these actions: to reinforce the commitment of your staff.
  8. A natural problem-solver: When a member of staff does not perform as well as expected, you will analyze the causes and consider a variety of solutions, which can range from changing the employee’s responsibilities so that he can better develop his abilities to terminating his relationship with the company, if this proves to be necessary.
  9. A catalyst for getting everyone involved: In order to carry out all of these tasks, having the support of senior management will not be enough; you will also need to get all of the company involved; you will need to clearly communicate the initiatives you are putting into practice, ask for suggestions, and ask your staff to recommend people from outside the company when you are looking to take on new personnel.
  10. A negotiator up to the last minute: Why not have a friendly chat when someone decides to leave the company? This will enable you to find out first-hand the real reasons why the person wants to leave (provided that he’s not excessively diplomatic) and, in the course of the interview, you may find an opportunity to make him a counter-offer and persuade him not to leave. You’ve got to find this last-ditch effort an exciting challenge, like Michael Jordan who loved the dying seconds of the game so much that people talked about his “love affair with the buzzer.” He made game-winning shots on the buzzer on no less than twenty-five occasions!

So, do you feel ready to be a Manager of Talent? And to manage your own talent?

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