Where is YOUR talent hiding?

16 September 2011 -


Writer, speaker and business coach Clive Wilson thinks companies are concentrating too much on developing weakness and too little on developing strengths. Ben Walker caught up with him to find out more

PM: Your specialist subject is talent liberation. I get the feeling that you believe some managers aren’t maximising their staff’s potential.

CW: Many aren’t. Organisations reach prime efficiency only when they recognise, value and develop the unique talent of all their staff. I think there’s a tendency for managers to concentrate only on the best people in their organisations.

I can see why that would be a problem. What’s behind it?

In 1997, McKinsey released a study called The War for Talent. They made a good point – that it was crucial to invest in the best people. But the problem with it was that businesses started believing that only the top 10% of their workforce was talented.

So what happens to the other 90% of the workforce?

The consequence is that there are a lot of people walking around the workplace thinking that they are not talented!

So how do we solve the problem?

The first step is to recognise what talent each member of staff brings to the party. The second step is understanding how these talents add value. The third step is developing it.

How easy do you think that is?

It means turning corporate management on its head. The traditional approach is to work out what the organisation’s weaknesses were and focus on fixing them. But the risk is that firms don’t make many gains from trying to fix their weaknesses. The biggest gains are to be made by developing areas of strength.

By the word “strength”, do you actually mean “competence”?

Absolutely not. The two are very different. Competence just means having a sufficient level of skill to avoid making critical mistakes. Strength is raw talent that has been developed. Think of a sales team: you want them to develop their talents so that they can beat the opposition.

So what’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is the bottom line! The truth is that if you develop talent you make an immediate difference to the balance sheet. Managers can liberate talent and make those returns by taking simple steps.

Find out more about Clive Wilson at the Primeast website

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