Whose Talent Is It Anyway?

  • Talent: Natural aptitude
  • A qualification: A pass of an examination or an official completion of a course, especially one conferring status as a recognised practitioner of a profession or activity.
  • Skill: The ability to do something well.
  • Attitude: A way of thinking and feeling about something.

Employers say that talent, skills and attitude matter, yet the recruitment process is heavily biased towards qualifications. Does a degree in maths, science, history or English provide you with the communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills required to usefully make your way through today’s and tomorrow’s workplace? Not necessarily. Solving the puzzle of youth unemployment is a big challenge, in part because people leave formal education without the vital skills the workplace is looking for.

I recently attended London’s Skilled Future Conference – where among other things, we were updated on ‘The Learning to Work’ programme, led by the CIPD to promote the role of employers in reducing youth unemployment. The CIPD’s purpose is to champion better work and working lives, which starts with young people being able to access the labour market. I’m a big fan of Learning to Work, and even though it is working, this dilemma of requiring talent, skills and attitude, while hiring on qualifications, came up in conference, both during presentations and in conversations at break time. Can we do anything differently?

Coincidentally, a couple of days after attending the conference, I spotted this neat idea. Penguin Random House UK want to invest in, and nurture creative talent, and to this end they have created ‘The Scheme’; a possible solution to hiring based on potential not education. There’s no mention of qualifications that I can see, and as well as being a creative way to hire, the positions last 13 months, initially at least.

And that’s fine because work is becoming much more fluid – the notion of jobs for life has all but faded from view. I think that’s a good thing, and in support of this I believe continuous professional development (CPD) and learning has to become more fluid, and more devolved too. As lifelong learners, I think we need a far greater say in setting the agenda for our own development, to include acquiring and honing new skills which motivate us and may also equip us to work better. With this greater personal influence, I think we also need to take more responsibility for keeping ourselves professionally relevant, partly through engaging with our own CPD, and recording it better than I, and perhaps you, currently do.

On April 29th I will be heading to Changeboard’s Future Talent HR Conference, where the challenge of developing talent, skills and attitude will continue to be addressed. If you are going along too, I hope to see you there, maybe we can talk about this some more?

Until then, I have a few questions for you.

  • Given the increasingly fluid nature of work, what does talent management need to look like in the world of HR and Learning & Development Professionals?
  • Are the people with the budget and the influence willing to devolve more money and time to the individual, without necessarily seeing a long term return?
  • In future, who should take responsibility for encouraging and developing a well qualified, skilled and talented workforce?

Whose Talent is it Anyway?

Buy. Read. Share. Repeat.

Here’s a simple four step idea you can use to help encourage development and strengthen connections.

Step 1. Buy

Buy a book. See, I told you this was simple!

Step 2. Read

Read the book. With me so far…?

Step 3. Share

Share the book. Once you’ve finished reading the book, send it to someone else. Maybe someone in your team, maybe someone in another team at your company, maybe someone in another company, or another part of your network. Think of a group of people who may benefit from reading the book and start to pass it around. Before you pass it on, photograph the book. Maybe take the picture near a local landmark, or a close by favourite place – somewhere you feel connected to. Share the photo with your network. Repeat this process either until everyone in the group has read and photographed the book, or it has fallen apart from being read so much. Share your thoughts about the book. What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it? What did you learn from it?

Step 4. Repeat

Repeat steps one through three until you know everything there is to know. And that’s it. See, I told you this was simple!

Credit where credit is due

This idea is not mine, I’ve just tweaked it a teeny bit. It is the brainchild of Anthony Allinson, and he and his team are already bringing it to life. Why don’t you give it a try?

photo credit