Exploring The Art Of Talent Optimisation

If the people you hire quickly slide from the ‘good idea’ option towards the ‘bad idea’ end of the spectrum, then you may be referring to a success profile that is too specific and not broad enough to take in the whole picture. Alternatively, your company could be focusing too much on present skills. Rather, try to hire competent people with hidden potential who can improve their abilities in the long term.

The first step in talent optimisation is to know what you need.

  • What skills does your company need from its people to be successful in the short term?
  • And what about the talent it needs for long-term growth?
  • Who will you ask to help you further define the talent you need?
  • And when will you do this?

Succession planning

Sometimes we dwell in the shadows of those we perceive as being more gifted than us. Inevitably we will end up comparing ourselves to others at some point since everyone has varying strengths and weaknesses. But regardless of how much more skilled others may be than us in certain areas, it is good to remember that everyone is born with certain talents that they can contribute in different ways.

Top managers often owe their success not purely to their own abilities and efforts, but to the achievements of the team members they surround themselves with. They can recognise the strengths of others, and not worry about being outshone. They play to these talents and groom others to succeed for the good of the whole rather than being focused only on their ego-driven concerns.

So feel your anxieties and channel them positively into nurturing rather than negating the unique capabilities of others. Employ those with diverse talents, and study how they conduct themselves. Then use this information to expand on your capabilities.

Another aspect of talent optimisation relates to succession planning.

  • Who on your team has the ability to take over from you, either now or with a bit more training?
  • Do you have a plan to replace yourself if need be? If not, when will you create one?
  • And what will you do to start training your staff to take on more senior roles?

Making a choice

Be careful of the following two errors frequently made during the recruiting and employment process:

  • Rushing the process and choosing a partially suitable applicant rather than waiting for someone better
  • Waiting too long to find the ideal person and missing out on someone perfectly suitable

Sometimes it pays off to wait for the ‘right’ person for the job. 

Do not just jump at the first (or most obvious) person who comes along. But at the same time, don’t be so fussy about finding a candidate that you miss some gems along the way. Know what you want and use strong decision making to get what you need.

Take a minute to consider your choices.

  • Have you ever hired someone too quickly and regretted it? What happened?
  • And have you ever taken too much time in reaching a staffing decision and missed out? Why do you think you did this?
  • The next time you have to hire, what steps will you take to avoid these two pitfalls?

Learn how to interview

Be sure of the people you hire. Learn to assess them accurately based on résumés, recommendation letters and evaluations to avoid nasty surprises after the initial interview process. Of course, there are those candidates who manage to slip through interviews, even though they may not be suitably qualified for a position.

Remember then: the interview is a crucial aspect in the selection of the best candidate for a job, and it has established best practices. So in trying to find the right person to employ, there are several techniques you can use.

For example, ask for input on potential employees from other interviewers using standard competency rating scales. Also, brush up on your interviewing skills by reading material on the topic; taking an instructional course (try to find one with video aids); or by sitting in on other managers’ interviews. The latter will help you hone your observation as well as listening abilities, and tune your senses into the possible talents and shortcomings of interviewees.

  • Would you rate your interview skills as good, bad or somewhere in-between? What makes you say this?
  • What value would you add to your company if you could drastically improve your interview skills?
  • And if you had to do just one thing to improve your interviewing skills, what would it be?

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