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The war for talent is back! But its different this time.

Back in November the CIPD launched their Valuing Your Talent initiative, to help leaders understand how “Human Capital Management” drives value. It hopes to provide employers with tools and metrics to measure work force skills on productivity. Again we are back to seeing people as “assets” – units of productivity. However, humans are the only assets that appreciate over time! Whilst revisiting Deloitte’s talent management model of “deploy, develop and connect” the underlying proposition for talent management hasn’t changed, that being “getting the right people, in the right position, in the right time”. Personally, I think we have an additional journey to travel to ensure that we take more of a ‘human’ approach to this business challenge. Karen Griffin, Managing Partner of Space2BE agrees; “On what basis are we selecting “right”? To what extent does the “human” have an influence over what is “right” for them? How many “people centric” conversations are taking place where we truly place the “human asset” at the heart of the conversation? Are we seeking learned capability to deliver the business goals or something else? Something more heart felt and passion led?”

The world of work has changed and is still changing! More technical savvy millennials are joining the workforce to be managed predominately by generation X managers. What people want from the work they do has shifted from a career with skills and status to work that is worthwhile, meaningful and engaging. Charles Handy wrote about the “portfolio lifestyle” back in the 1980s. A career comprised of different types of work, not jobs. People in self-employment are at a 20 year high; 4.2 million of us according the ONS. Some forced in to this out of necessity and some through choice, preferring to take charge of their own lives rather than be someone else “assets”. Developments in research around what drives motivation – what energises and engages people, all lead to one inevitable conclusion; people are individuals and want to be valued as such in their work place!

Peter Drucker, one of the fathers of modern management thinking wrote; “The effective executive makes strengths effective. (S)he knows that one cannot build on weaknesses. To achieve results, one must use all the available strengths of associates, superiors and ones own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities..” he wrote this in 1967! Each worker has unique innate strengths available to bring to work. Strengths when used, are what energise and enthuse you; it’s part of your DNA and personality and when refined with skills, knowledge and practice it becomes part of your signature presence, your uniqueness in the world. Taking a Strengths focused approach to talent management requires a mindset shift. It is a philosophy that joins up the processes of recruitment, development, engagement, retention and succession. At its essence a strengths approach recognises we all have innate strengths / energy towards certain activities as well as natural weakness. Conventional wisdom had us believe the road to success was in spending time, effort and resources in conquering your weaknesses “whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” sort of thing. However, trying (and usually failing) to fix that weakness not only drains us and knocks our confidence, it also prevents us from valuing our natural strengths and building on them. Where a natural weakness can potentially limit your performance you need to learn how to manage around it – just enough to prevent failure: success comes with developing and stretching natural strengths, its a subtle balancing trick!

Astute Talent Managers will understand, people are not your companies greatest asset, it’s how we align peoples’ strengths to the work they do in the pursuit of the companies goals and purpose that is the organisations true competitive advantage!.
Ewan Stickley, Talent Management Consultant, Executive Coach & Leadership Facilitator, Space2BE.