Talent Development Part 3 - Knowing What You Want

Sep 26, 2023

Talent Development - Do you know what you’re looking for?

This is where the problems in Talent Development usually originate. We don’t really know what we are looking for. We have this image of what we need in our head, but it’s more a stylized photo from Garden & Gun than a clear description of the people you need in your organization. Some leaders will actually say, “I’ll know it when I see it.” Let’s face it, we are all visual people. We tend to make assessments based on what we see. That “visual bias” often leads to hiring the person “you want them to be,” not necessarily the person that they are.

We also tend to hire people that we think “think like us.” This “emotional connection bias” makes us think that we have found our doppelganger or our long-lost cousin who gets us and knows what we need. Both biases, the visual bias and the emotional connection bias, create more problems than they solve.

Whether you’re developing current talent or hiring new talent, Talent Development begins by clarifying exactly the type of team member you need.  That description starts with clarifying the world we live in today.

We live in a world that is driven by technology and characterized by speed and change. AI complicates the picture even more because the line between truth and fiction can be easily blurred. The speed of change means faster decision making, better problem solving, and innovations are needed to stay relevant. You can’t keep power in your hands anymore. It must be shared. Things are simply moving too fast. This leads to the detailed description of the workforce you need today. 

Use this basic principle: hiring and develop mindset first and skillset second. Yes, if they are in sales, they need to have sales skills. If they are in accounting, they need accounting skills.  So, they do need the skills. What is more important, though, is whether they have the mindset to use those skills in a fast paced, changing world where THEY will make decisions every day that impact the organization. You can teach skills pretty easily. Mindsets are more complicated.

How do you want them to think, process information, analyze options? What’s the decision-making process you need them to use?  How do you want them to collaborate with others?

 That leads to the analysis question.  Look at your current Talent Development process. Can you give specific examples of where you are developing the mindset needed to thrive? The answer in most organization is “no.” We usually develop skills but not mindset. We expect people to come with the mindset. Bad mistake. Everyone develops a mindset by the time they reach the workforce, and most people never leave that mindset unless they are forced to do so. That’s part of Talent Development – pushing people out of their comfort zone to develop a new mindset that creates new growth. When the mindset is there, the skills are easy to develop and apply.

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