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How Much Wasted Talent is Sitting in Your Organization?

The economy is picking up; job postings are increasing; and the articles about “the war for talent” and the shortages of it are popping up again. But how much of the talent you are looking for is sitting at the desk right outside your office? With a little training, job reorganization, and willingness to take a risk, you could be sitting on a gold mine of innovation and productivity.

As Josh Bersin pointed out earlier this year in this excellent article about the future of talent management, or “people management,” organizations must move away from managing people in the way that is best for the organization and move toward helping them become the best employees and people they can be. Instead of ranking and categorizing employees into slots that fit the current organizational structure, focus on the individual first. An average performer could be a standout employee if you just tweaked their job responsibilities to focus on their strengths. Or perhaps that person needs a bit more training and development to become better at something in which they are interested but have little experience.

In fact, if an employee excels at every area of her job, it’s probably time to shake things up. High performers tend to get bored in the absence of new challenges, and it’s quite possible they will begin to look elsewhere. The best work environments are those in which people constantly get a chance to learn new things and develop valuable skills that help them grow both professionally and personally.

Of course you have to keep your organization’s interests in mind as you manage your workforce, but paying more attention to how individuals react to your company’s organizational structure will yield dividends. Is there a position or department in your company in which you have consistently high turnover? Perhaps it’s time to stop blaming the people you hired and fired and start looking at the ways in which those individuals were set up to fail. A poorly designed hierarchy, ingrained company politics, or unnecessary bureaucracy could be to blame.

Take a look at your job descriptions as well. Do you really require seven years of industry-specific experience? Can’t any person smart enough to be worth hiring learn on the job? WorkStride is one of the few recognition and incentive software providers here in New York, so we have about three employees who came from this space at our company. We have dozens of brilliant engineers, project managers, salespeople, etc. who came from all types of other industries and it only enriches our collective knowledge and experience as a team.

In this “war for talent,” the only way to win is to look beyond your own needs as a manager, or what you think your needs are. Giving your people access to opportunities, fostering their development, and recognizing their accomplishments will ensure a winning team.

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