People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 14

Common Tensions in
Talent Management
By Lewis Garrad
There are very few endeavors that are as
noble and important as helping people
fulfill their potential. Wasted talent isn't
just a travesty for the individual, but also
for the organization or society which
would benefit from it. HR's focus on
understanding potential then isn't just a
good thing to do for business; it's also the
right thing to do for humanity. When the
right leaders find the right jobs, they can
make the world a better place.
While the study and practice of talent
management has found a number of enduring principles, there are also several
tensions that managers and HR functions struggle to resolve as they try to
define and identify potential. Here are
three important ones to think about as
we consider future approaches to talent
and potential:

Problem Solvers and
Problem Finders

The ability to solve novel problems is
extremely desirable in a leader - it's
well established that agile learners adapt
quickly to new situations and challenges. As a result, they often perform
well in a variety of roles and contexts.
However, one significant trend that has
emerged with the rise of digitization is
that access to new information to solve
problems is becoming easier because,
to some extent, machines learn for us.
As Kevin Kelly notes in his book, The
Inevitable, the availability of fast, cheap
and accurate information via the internet, as well as new forms of analytics
via digital tools, means that answers to
complex questions are increasingly easy
to find. The consequence of this is that
defining the most meaningful problems
to fix becomes an increasingly valuable
skill. Indeed, I would argue that the key
feature of the most prominent leaders
of our time (like Musk, Bezos and even
Jobs) is that they have excelled in their
ability to identify the right problems to
solve, quickly followed by the ability to
bring the right team together to solve
them. While good problem solvers
14

PEOPLE + STRATEGY

might tackle a new task or problem well,
it's possible that in the future it will
be even more important to be able to
define problems more effectively in the
first place. Finding the right problem
will be what good leaders do; solving
them will be a team effort.

Ambitious Individuals
and Effective Teams

If potential is defined in terms of the
future capacity to lead effectively, then
the desire to lead must be an important
pre-requisite. Those who are ambitious
and competitive by nature naturally
display this desire and often emerge as
leaders if no other selection system is in
place. While leadership emergence and
effectiveness are not mutually exclusive,
in its most extreme forms the competitive desire that ambitious people display
can often also be their biggest weakness. Highly ambitious leaders jostle for
power with their coworkers, compete
for airtime and attention, become more
entitled and demanding, and spend
more time on their personal agenda
than group issues. Indeed, as effective
leadership increasingly becomes a function of effective team work and cross
functional collaboration, and less about
individual brilliance, it becomes even
more important that senior leaders put
the good of the group ahead of their
own personal agenda.

Knowing your Talent and
Being Burdened by it

While some people flourish under
pressure, there are many talented
people who find the spotlight overwhelming. As Jennifer Petriglieri and
her colleagues at INSEAD have noted,
being marked by your company as
talented can be as much of a curse as it
is a privilege. The result is that some
people end up feeling frustrated and
disengaged by carrying that additional
weight of talent expectations - hardly
an approach for helping people realize their potential. Indeed, the problem with this is that we define talent in
such broad terms that our process for
developing it is inappropriate for some
people - who would be better off with
a lighter touch approach.
Finally, the most common complaint
about talent and potential programs

is that they direct a disproportionate
amount of resources towards a "vital
few." As our digital footprint grows,
perhaps new data streams and cheaper
assessments will make talent and potential insights more freely available to all.
And then maybe talent management
will be less about helping a vital few to
achieve their potential and more about
helping the entire workforce to thrive in
their own way.
Lewis Garrad, Ph.D., a chartered organizational psychologist, is the growth markets
lead for Mercer | Sirota. He can be reached
on Twitter: @lewisgarrad.

Creating the
Conditions for HiPo
Emergence
By Mary-Clare Race
Creating the optimum environment
for high-potentials to emerge and
thrive is arguably the most overlooked
talent management issue around
boardroom tables and in academic
journals.
W. Edwards Deming insisted that
the variation in employee performance
is 5% down to the individual and 95%
down to the conditions in the environment. He argued that organizations
should focus on fixing the system rather than "fixing people." This debate
rages on, but there is little doubt that
energy spent creating the right psychological conditions for HiPos to flourish
will yield dividends.
Mind Gym's psychologists carried out
extensive research to identify what was
needed to guarantee the emergence
of high potential and identified six
"conditions," which have consistently
been found to build an environment
where high-potential individuals can
emerge and perform at the top of their
game. The science doesn't suggest that
any one of these conditions has more
impact than any other, but rather points
to an ecosystem where the elements are
all inter-related - when one is strengthened it automatically strengthens and
supports the others.


http://www.twitter.com/lewisgarrad

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1

From The Executive Editor
From The Guest Editors
Perspectives
So You Want to Be a High-Potential?
How to Identify and Grow High Potentials: A CEO’s Perspective with Proven Results
Getting the Right People in the Hi-Po Pool
Wherefore Art Thou All Our Women High-Potentials?
Are Your HiPos Overrated?
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover1
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover2
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 1
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 2
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 3
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - From The Executive Editor
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - From The Guest Editors
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 6
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 7
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 9
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 10
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 11
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 12
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 13
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 14
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 15
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 16
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - So You Want to Be a High-Potential?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 18
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 19
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 20
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 21
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - How to Identify and Grow High Potentials: A CEO’s Perspective with Proven Results
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 23
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 24
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 25
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 26
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 27
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Getting the Right People in the Hi-Po Pool
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 29
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 30
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 31
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Wherefore Art Thou All Our Women High-Potentials?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 33
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 34
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 35
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 36
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 37
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Are Your HiPos Overrated?
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 39
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 40
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 41
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 43
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 44
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 45
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 46
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 47
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - In First Person
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 49
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 51
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 52
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 53
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 55
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 57
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - 58
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover3
People & Strategy Winter 2018 Vol. 41 No. 1 - Cover4
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