By Chad T. Ahern
"People exceptionally talented in the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive."
Those with Achiever talents have plenty to offer in a crisis including a great deal of stamina and execution prowess. There is also a risk of burning them out given their need to complete many or most of the tasks assigned to them.
As a leader you can help people still use their Achiever talents, manage frustration, and avoid burnout by:
As with coaching any individual, their combined set of talent themes will effect how their Activator talents show up, and how to best manage them. If nothing else, when you check in with them be sure to ask:
"What can I help you accomplish today?"
By Chad T. Ahern
talent (noun, tal·ent | ˈta-lənt \): a person of talent or a group of persons of talent in a field or activity. (Merriam-Webster). See also Talent Management.
Talent (noun, tal·ent | ˈta-lənt): a naturally recurring way of thinking, feeling, or behaving that can be productively applied. (Gallup). See also Strength.
As Vermont's unemployment rate continues to hover around 3% many business leaders and HR professionals continue to worry they won't be able to find enough of the former. Yet, I wonder if we've done enough to capitalize on the latter within our state's population.
To truly access the full potential of Vermont's workforce we must combine the training of skills, the exchange of knowledge, and, most importantly, the identification and development of individuals' and teams' innate Talents. It is in this effort that we can unlock the best of what our current workforce can offer to their employers, their families, and their communities.
This coming Sunday, many will have their eyes on Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos battling the Carolina Panthers. Whether you watch for the game or the famed Super Bowl commercials, let me add one extra layer for you to pay attention to as it relates to utilizing Talents, Strengths, and positive teamwork.
As each team takes the field they will come with a full understanding of their depth chart.
Not only do they know how many players can play each position, they will also know the best combination of players for each game scenario based on players' unique combination of Strengths.
How? They recruit for it. They experiment, They ask their players what's working for them, and what's not. Most importantly, they help those players that want to develop new skills and ways of thinking about various situations.
So as you watch Peyton Manning or Cam Newton pick apart the defense, consider when was the last time you really took a close look at the abilities, thinking and action patterns, and innate abilities of your staff? How could you be using them more effectively in different situations?
What does your depth chart look like?
Each of us stands on the shoulders of those who came before us. Here are five* TED Talks that inspire my views on work, leadership, and Talent.
"There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does."
This is probably one of my favorite lines from any TED talk. So often we make choices about how to treat people and situations based on anecdotal evidence or old business models. We should instead consider experimenting and tracking the data/performance.
I'm also a huge proponent of Dan's "big three" -- Purpose, Mastery, and Autonomy. When it comes to helping your colleagues and peers utilize our unique talents, keep the following in mind:
Just as the 21st century military is finding new approaches to new threats (e.g. decentralized command-and-control organizations and cyber-warfare), businesses and organizations need to rethink old management models.
What I appreciate about this talk is Gen. McChrystal's willingness to:
I've, on occasion, picked up the moniker "the 'why' kid"; so imagine my delight when I found Simon Sinek advocating that "why" is the most important question we can ask.
Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?
Our distinct talents can only be fully realized if we can understand why they are important and how they be useful in accomplishing our life's work.
As each of us searches for connection -- whether at home or work -- we must keep in mind that we must be vulnerable. All of us must be willing to share our blessings and our faults so that we can live an authentic life.
In our organizations could this not be a deciding factor when we consider who we choose to be our organizational leaders?
Okay, so my fifth favorite TED Talk actually comes in two parts. I love Sir Ken Robinson, and I think the lessons he points out regarding our educational system can also be applied to our work environments.
In his 2006 talk he speaks about how our educational system kills creativity and pushes children to squander their unique talents. Robinson initially points out that "intelligence is diverse...dynamic....and distinct." The same can be said for our Talents.
This makes Robinson's follow up 2010 talk about the importance of "using our talents" all the more critical. The world of work is changing faster than ever before and it is making the old world of human management obsolete.
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." - Abraham Lincoln, 1862
Just as Abraham Lincoln spoke of the "old ways" when it came to slavery; we must realize that old command-and-control HR systems of the past are inadequate for the future of work. We must think anew and act anew by engaging our Talents in new ways as the world of work changes. We do not need reform but a revolution.
Search Google for "talent gap" and you'll find more than 24.4 million results; most espousing the dire situations of HR directors and recruitment professionals. They can't find the right people for the right positions...and it's only going to get worse.
This is a valid concern but there are two ideas missing from this conversation.
talent vs. Talent
In most of the articles on "talent" (lowercase "t") you'll find authors referring to some combination of having the right people with the right pre-taught skills, and appropriate book knowledge or experience in their field. Something that looks like this:
Skills + Knowledge + people or person = talent
The problem with this thinking is that it omits the natural innate abilities of people. Marcus Cunningham and Curt Coffman define all three - skills, knowledge, and Talent - a little differently in their book "First Break All the Rules". You'll find a similar approach in Tom Rath's acclaimed book "StrengthFinders 2.0":
Skills are the how-to's of a role....knowledge is simply "what you are aware of"...Talents are the four-lane highways in your mind, those that carve your recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior. Talents cannot be taught. -- Marcus Cunningham and Curt Coffman, "First Break All the Rules"
This distinction between "talent" and "Talent" is important because even when you do find the right "talent", they might not bring the best set of "Talents" to engage with your team, or stay motivated enough to bring long-term benefits to your company. Get it wrong and your back looking for new employees. It's also one thing to claim you cannot find or are willing to train the right talent (lower case "t"), it's another to not engage the full range of Talents you already have on your team.
Fixing the Real Gap
With this differentiation in mind, I contend that the real "Talent gap" isn't the lack of an available employee pool. The real Talent gap is the difference between the modest number of Talents your team utilizes every day and the total number of Talents innately held by your team.
So before we all go complain that we can't find the right people or post that next job listing, consider:
Need one more incentive? Re-evaluating where people utilize their Talents will minimize the chances your teammates are part of the 82% of American and Canadian workers (and 87% worldwide) disengaged from their work.
What have you done to find and capitalize on the unique Talents of your team?
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trademarks of Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.