Training Industry Quarterly - Summer 2013 - (Page 7)
AT THE EDITOR’S DESK | MICHELLE B. BLIEBERG
DEFINE TALENT BY
THEIR OWN TERMS
LESSONS FROM SHAKESPEARE
Learning leaders can find wisdom about talent management in
the words of William Shakespeare. It was he who pondered the
infamous question, “To be, or not to be?” Therefore, learning
organizations should be asking the question, “To be, or not to be
transparent with top talent?”
There are three considerations regarding the issue of talent. First,
we must define what talent means. Second, we need to decide
how to identify talent. And third, we must decide what level of
transparency we should have with top talent.
It may not prove to be so simple. Talent may be one of the
most overused and misunderstood words in human resources
departments today. It can mean any and all of the following things:
• All employees
• A subset of high-performing or high-potential employees
• The name of the HR function
• The name of a subset of HR functions, including:
o Recruiting or “talent acquisition”
o Learning and development or “talent development”
o Succession planning or “talent management”
In the entertainment industry, talent means script writers and
actors. However, in every organization, leaders must define talent
by their own terms and effectively communicate that definition.
Organizations have various ways of identifying talent, such
as using the performance management process, nine-box
ratings, an assessment center approach, or using a defined set of
competencies to measure against. Some organizations may have
an even less structured approach, relying on managerial instincts
such as, “I’ll know it when I see it.” No matter which of these
methodologies is used, they have two overriding elements in
common: performance and potential.
Even Shakespeare suggests, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some
are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness
thrust upon ‘em.”
I, however, favor an even simpler approach: identifying a key
talent as a high performer, as well as someone you can imagine
being promoted two levels beyond where they are today.
Once top talent has been defined and identified, the next step is to
decide what to do with this information. While some companies
keep this information under lock and key, there is a growing
sentiment and trend toward being transparent with employees.
The advantages of informing individuals may seem obvious.
Shakespeare proclaimed, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” If top
talent knows they are valued and believe they can have promising
careers, would this increase employee retention? The answer
should be yes, but we risk raising expectations. This information
could be both powerful and empowering for individuals.
Often, managers fear the reactions of those not learning this
information. After all, “Much Ado about Nothing” teaches us that
comparisons are arduous, and “Othello” warns us of jealousy from
peers. This could be an area ripe for manager education: being
better prepared to discuss specific behaviors and performance
that demonstrate top talent and how to reach full potential. If
successful, managers might then be more confident to have these
rewarding, yet challenging conversations.
As an organization, if we do not make the decision whether
identified talent should be informed of their status or not, then
managers are left to make their own decision. “This above all: to
thine ownself be true,” Shakespeare declared.
Although fraught with both risks and rewards, defining,
identifying and developing an effective communication strategy
is a conversation that organizations need to do battle with.
Shakespeare would be proud of us for tackling these issues and
Michelle B. Blieberg joined Time Warner Inc. in February 2012
as the head of Global Organization and Leadership Development
(GOLD). She is responsible for executive development, talent
management, and succession planning, as well as starting up a
change management capability. Email Michelle.
Training Industry Quarterly, Summer 2013 / A Training Industry, Inc. magazine / www.trainingindustry.com/TIQ
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Summer 2013
Training Industry Quarterly - Summer 2013
From Where I Sit: Talent Management: An Emerging Business Strategy
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: Lessons from Shakespeare
Dealing with Trust Issues
Younger Boss, Older Worker
Four Skills Needed in the Future Workplace
Survive & Thrive with Performance Support
How to Optimize Behavior Change for Business Impact
Addressing the Skilled Trade Crisis
Cultural Differences in Training
Gender Communication in the Workplace
Meeting the Needs of Gen Y Learners
A Leaders 'Crashless' Course: Helping Employees Drive Career Development
DeVry: Growing Talent with Blended Learning Solutions
Live Face-to-Face Training Still Leads the Way
Training Industry Quarterly - Summer 2013