Nurturing Talent

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 08:02

By Leon Gettler

In a crowded market, talent is what gives business that competitive edge. Nurturing talent is now the big challenge for managers. It improves quality of service and productivity. It creates a solid knowledge base regarding the organisation’s processes, policies and procedures. It also creates alignment with the organisation’s culture and improves work efficiency.

But then, nurturing talent has its challenges. How does the manager nurture talent in a way that will make them willing to stay with the organisation in order to have the maximum positive impact on your business? That’s definitely not easy, considering there are so many employment opportunities out there and every other organisation is looking for talent. Managing talent takes a special effort.

Specialists at the Job Science site say managers should identify these creative, innovative, complex problem solvers and develop plans to ensure retention. They need to be managed differently. They recommend strategies like giving them autonomy and the freedom to think outside all of the boxes and solve problems for the organisation. They also have to provide them with tools they need to produce results and make sure they don’t get bogged down in administrative tasks and let them do what they do best, leaving off paper pushing, rote staff meetings and other optional distractions.

Managers should also tolerate mistakes (no-one is perfect and gets it right the first time). They should give them guidance but not instructions (“high potential employees don’t need to be told how to do the job or even why you need them to. They are highly motivated people who are curious problem solvers. Just tell them what you need – the goal or objective – and let them go to it!”). Other good ideas include getting them to work together (“high potential employees need like-minded thinkers to collaborate with”) and not setting down restrictive rules (“higher potential employees need a less restrictive environment. Mandating an 8:00 am start time, set lunch hours or other restrictive rules will dampen creativity and demoralisze this type of worker.”)

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook, says organisations need to find adaptable problem solvers. Most people can identify problems, she says, but only a select few are able to change them. “These valuable individuals are often surrounded by other people that have the knowledge to prevent such problems from happening in the first place. Talented people surround themselves with similar personalities and make up an efficient and effective problem-solving team, making them the best types of talent to nurture within a large scale corporation.”

Chris Jones from the vocational education group City & Guilds says managers need to first of all review the company’s needs and see how these people can be developed to fit in with the organisation’s objectives. They need to identify the gaps and see how the talent can address those shortcomings. He also recommends giving them mentors. That sort of back up from the organisation goes a long way to improving staff retention, motivation and productivity. They also need to recognise achievement and understand the nuances of how individuals respond to feedback.