There is a case for stating that the most valuable resource within your team is the talent that resides there. The problem comes when managers don’t recognise that talent because they do not know that it is there.
The natural talent within a person (and everybody has some) may be hidden because the work they are obliged to do, doesn’t necessarily ask for it. By identifying and recognising this talent there is the potential to uncover a powerful force.
You may recognise this example. You have recently taken over as the new manager of a team. You are now required to produce regular statistical reports to the board on customer service levels. You look for assistance within your team and discover that one of your team enjoys working with spread sheets even though it is not usually part of their job. Not only are they good at putting the spread sheet together, they have the ability to analyse and present the information in a way that is easy for others to understand. You present your colleague’s charts and analysis to the board and they are very impressed. Having told the board that you have a very good team that put the information together you congratulate the individual and pass on what was said about their skills.
What is the result? You have been able to use the talent in your team to produce something that is extremely useful to the business; you have been made to look good by association and the individual is motivated because of the recognition you gave them. This is a true story and the team member concerned went onto work in the analysis department of the company.
So how can you conduct a ‘talent’ review with members of your team? Naturally this can form part of a normal appraisal review or why not have a separate review specifically aimed at pulling out the talent. Here are three tips for holding such an important discussion.
1. Find A Fun Offsite Location
Having your review meeting offsite has so many benefits. All parties are encouraged to be honest and reflective if they know their discussion is to take place in a quiet, non-intrusive, offsite location. Being away from the normal work environment and hopefully interruptions may help them to relax. Turn mobile phones off as if you were in a customer meeting and let the team know where you are. Dedicating this time to this person will demonstrate how much you value them.
You will be surprised at the number of places that you can hold meetings free of charge.
As well as the usual coffee shops, motorway restaurants and hotel lobbies often frequented by sales professionals, consider leisure centre receptions, libraries, and community centres.Many of these will have refreshments available or may be happy for you to take in a coffee with you.
2. Get To REALLY Know Them & Them You
Three good questions to ask informally during the review;
– What was the best bit of the last period
– What was the worst bit of this period and
Always be armed with positive AND constructive feedback. Be prepared to look back into the past and find out what achievements they have been proud of in their lives and their early aspirations. This often identifies talents you never knew existed. The better organisations will always ask whether there are any other roles or locations within the business they like the opportunity of joining.
If asked be ready to share your own aspirations and experiences. This will help them to understand you too.
3. Always Encourage Feedback On YOU
If you really want to know how you can get the best out of them and their talents, it is worth considering asking some very brave questions. These include; ‘What have I done to help you do your job well? What else can I do manage you better?’ or put another way, ‘How do you like to be managed?’
One manager we have worked with, when asked this said, ‘Free reign and every now and then touch the tiller to redirect me.’
Now that you have identified more about the talents in your team, what’s the best way to use your talents?
Think about what you have learned about them during the review. Consider what you can do to help them achieve their own aspirations. Look to manage them in the way they prefer whilst keeping a remote eye on progress. Agree the best times to check in with them and help to identify barriers they face that might prevent them achieving their key objectives.
Just spending time asking the questions above will engender a feeling of self worth and the benefits this brings. Give it a go and enjoy the results!
Head of Training
Originally published: 18 February, 2013
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