The Slovenia Times

And how do you treat your talents?



On the first working day, the person is usually overloaded with company procedures. Perhaps not the best way to greet fresh talent, right? 

Without proper on-boarding and clear goal-setting from the very beginning, you soon expect this person to show some concrete results. But the results are not there as the new recruit is still struggling with information overload. When, after a year or two, your talent is just another employee that you are not satisfied with, you start to wonder what happened - after all, this was "the best person on the market"...

We often hear about many talent management initiatives that companies have. But what does "managing talents" really mean? Is it a training program where the best people are sent for a couple of days or is it the way you treat your (best) people in general? Unfortunately, talent management is often nothing more than a training program or some other stand-alone component which is exactly why it does not work. Talent management experts (Effron & Ort, 2010) say that companies build complex and headache-inducing talent management processes (such as performance management, competency model, succession planning etc.) without evaluating whether each of these components really add value. In reality, they often become time wasters for managers and hence fail to leverage engagement of talented employees. If this is the case in your company, then the Human Resources department has failed to do its initial job: help leaders to maximally develop and utilise employees' potential to achieve the company goals.

Research shows that the best companies generate over 40% more productive power (Garton, 2017). What they do differently from poorer-performing companies is that they successfully convert talent and other components of human capital into productivity and economic value. Translation of these into value-added company processes is HR's job and this is also how their performance should be measured.

According to some authors, when talents have the opportunity to perform at their maximum, the impact of their performance can be up to even 300 times greater than the performance of an average employee (Bock, 2015). Does your incentive system reward this kind of exceptional contribution? Even if your best people contribute "only" 10 times more than an average performer, are you able to reward them accordingly? Usually, performance bonuses differ by up to 30-40% between a poor performer and a top performer, which is light years away from being "fair" when it comes to rewarding top performance and impact.

Luckily, talented people are motivated by many other drivers than solely the financial aspects of their job. Three fundamental things that energise talents of any age or profile are (Pink, 2009):

  • autonomy, the freedom to direct our lives;
  • mastery, our craving to excel; 
  • purpose, the yearning for our work to serve something larger than ourselves.

So your best people are also the most demanding ones: are you ready for them? Once you suffocate your talents' autonomy with rigid company procedures and destructive micromanaging, their mastery with bureaucratic annual appraisals and answers such as "no, it cannot be done", and higher purpose with non-inspiring company values such as profit, don't be surprised if your talents feel like they are not being managed and appreciated properly. Hence, the most rational thing to do is to leave. You are then again seeking for another "best person on the market" for whom you are certain that their performance will be extraordinary...

Bock, L. (2015). Work Rules!. London, John Murray (Publishers).
Effron, M., Ort, M. (2010): One Page Talent Management. Eliminating Complexity, Adding Value. Boston, HBR Press.
Garton, E. (2017): Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team's Productive Power. Boston, HBR Press.
Pink, D. H. (2009): Drive. The New York Times.


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