Talent Isn’t Fair

We have a big problem with this concept in HR.

We want everything to be fair. At the core of what we do, though, is the most unfair dilemma that we can do nothing about. Our people come to us with talent.  It is never equal.  We can try to help our employees leverage the talents they have, but in the end it’s their talent, their desire.

I work my butt off, but Mary makes more sales than me, and she doesn’t put in half the effort I do!  Yep, she has more talent.

I am loyal to this company, and Bill hates this place, but he got promoted! Yep, he has more talent.

I just can’t seem to find a solution to our problem, then Sue finds it after working on it for ten minutes. Talent.

Everything we do in HR and Talent Acquisition comes down to us managing the inequalities of talent in our organizations.

Turns out, talent isn’t fair.



4 thoughts on “Talent Isn’t Fair

  1. 80% of employees self-report that they are not engaged.
    80% of managers are ill suited to effectively manage people.
    The two 80 percents are closely related.

    Employers keep hiring the wrong people to be their managers and then they wonder why they have so few successful, engaged employees. Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employee lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent 

    Employers do a… 

    A. GREAT job of hiring competent employees, about 95%
    B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture, about 70%
    C. POOR job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job, about 20%

    Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
    1. Competence
    2. Cultural Fit
    3. Job Talent

    There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire or manage talent effectively.
    1. How do we define talent?
    2. How do we measure talent?
    3. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Most managers cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

    Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

    Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.

  2. Agreed with you that talent isn’t fair. There are many kinds of talent. Someone may have talent in technology, someone may have talent in solving problems with employees, someone may have talent in prioritizing, organizing… But those may not get promotion. BUT someone who has talent of kissing ass may get it.

  3. Nice post Tim, sharing now. Points out exactly how important good management is. We need to make sure that this intrinsic ‘unfairness’ doesn’t negatively affect our companies. Also, ideally, we want to be stuffing our companies with as many talented people as possible 🙂

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