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Great Managers are Talent Managers…so, are they fit for role?

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Do people really matter? What does the world of globalisation, nationalism and popularist politics tell us about people? Perhaps it tells us that many people are generally fed up and disillusioned with their lives and the people at the top? Maybe, they just need someone to see their talent? Or see somebody they can truly respect and trust taking a lead. Talent Management in most organisations is about embracing a strategy that is forward looking in terms of identifying where the current gaps are in resource capability and developing people to support the new business plans moving forward, which are seen as being critical to success. To do this, the most successful companies are highly reliant on great managers.

The difference between great managers and great leaders is well documented but for me, what makes the difference is where they spend most of their time. The great manager is mostly inward looking, focusing in particular on the differing needs of the individuals in their team and drawing out a person’s unique talents and turning these into performance. Great leaders, on the other hand, are more outward focused, looking at the competition, problem solving, strategic direction etc. So, it often falls to the managers to make the all important call around talent identification and succession so they are often the enablers for helping their people progress in their careers.

The key question then is how well do we invest in our managers to allow them to become fit for the talent role? This, from my perspective, is often overlooked and/or at best a talent module is randomly bolted onto a management development type programme. And we then expect our managers to ‘pick up the talent piece’ through some sort of learning ‘osmosis’ and in extreme cases the talent agenda becomes something to be bolted onto the annual appraisal just to get the 9-Box filled in.

The reality is that in successful, high performing organisations Great Managers are Talent Managers but they have been trained to be so and are therefore confident and competent in their talent role. They recognise that treating everyone the same isn’t fair; they don’t try and fix people but encourage them to focus more on their strengths every day. Talent managers will seek the very best results from their people (performance). But even more importantly, they have the bespoke tools and the skills to help identify potential against an individual’s capacity and their will to take on a greater challenge and more responsibility. This is particularly important in understanding personal motivation and how behaviour, contribution and development needs can vary from person to person during their career.

Organisations need to ask themselves: are they investing sufficiently in their talent agenda, in particular around ensuring their managers are fit for the talent role? Given that the identification of the ‘talented people’ and subsequent compilation of succession and development plans across the business are so important in managing risk, why would you not want to invest? 

I believe that a bespoke solution for talent works best. Tailored, innovative workshop/interventions and support tools set out clear capability messages to the manager population. This approach properly supports the organisational commercial aims, enhances employee engagement and contributes directly to outperforming competitors.

Gareth Jones is an Associate of nStratagem. We have a great deal of experience in helping organizations through these issues and challenges. Feel free to view our Case Studies and contact us directly to see how we can help you.

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