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What Happened to the Talent?

Posted Feb 25 2010 1:34pm
Changes and Changing Talents

It's a win for everyone when you find the kind of organization in which your talents can flourish.

But we live in a working-world filled with changes:

1. A CEO may decide it's more profitable to become a manufacturing-focused company than a sales & marketing-driven organization.

2. Mergers and acquisitions create new cultures. New cultures lead to new values and priorities.

3. Customers change their technology, causing your company to change it's tech service response.

4. Downsizing. Fewer people, more responsibilities for those remaining.

Scratching_head Where Did The Talent Go?

I've watched each of the above grow into a crisis of confidence for employees and employers:

  • Mysteriously, you don't feel as talented and capable as before.
  • At the same time, the organization is wondering where it's talented people went.

Fact: no one suddenly got stupid!

Second fact: Something else will now need to change.

You or Them?

When you were hired it was a good fit because of how business was conducted. Now it doesn't seem that way. Here are some considerations when companies and employees find themselves in a talent mismatch as a result of changes:

1. Companies: Take time to assess the breadth of talent that exists in your employee base. You may not have been using the range of talents that individuals possess because you (naturally) hired on a given set of criteria.

Real-life example: In the past few years I've had the opportunity to assess three executives who were on the "We've changed, their role isn't needed, I guess they have to go even though they've been really effective" list. In two of the three cases a broader assessment showed that they were gifted in areas that hadn't been tapped before. Those two remain with their organizations in new roles and are contributing meaningfully and productively.

2. Individuals. Maybe it isn't such a good fit.The faster you figure out the reality of the situation the faster you can make a decision to stay or look elsewhere.

Bonus tip: The longer you hang out in a mismatch the more you will question your adequacy. So, knock it off! You are talented and you've been performing in a talented way. The situation changed, not you. Get yourself into another winning situation before you conclude that the problem is you.

A Final Thought

Our educational and career counseling entities need to become very deliberate in painting an accurate picture  of "careers."

My take is that the approach is still, "What will you do when you grow up?", the assumption being that one will "become something" and "do it at a company" for a lifetime. The reality is that a person needs to find out their range of talents and prepare for a series of long-term projects in multiple places vs. lifetime employment.

Building awareness of talents, project orientation, and transitions would go a long way in offering genuine help in accurately preparing young people for the future.

What do you think?

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