We tend to believe that any ambitious and talented person must eventually become a manager. However, this is not always the best use of this talent for a company. Some elements to reflect on about talent management policies.
We often perceive highly-skilled employees as those who have the ability and skills to climb the ladder one step at a time into a management position. “Even if this is a way to grow, it is far from the only possible course,” says Julie Carignan, Senior Partner at SPB Organizational Psychology.
Some highly strategic positions provide as much value to an organization, if not more. For example, the departure of an engineer or an experienced marketer can have higher financial consequences for a company than replacing an employee in the executive or management branches.
Redefining potential talent
The most common mistake we see in business is to rely too much on employee performance. “A sales person can excel in their work, but may not have the skills to manage a team,” says Julie Carignan. “This misjudgment has a double-edge sword: we not only lose a great salesperson but you are then left with an underperforming team leader.”
A good talent development program should include three essential elements. “We must first verify the specific skills required for the type of position in question, whether that is a managerial role or other,” she says.
Beyond this, the person's predisposition to develop is to be verified. “This results in the ability to receive good feedback and learn from their experiences,” she adds.
For now, the worker may well have all the skills and competencies required, but if there is no motivation or desire to progress, no program will create miracles. “It may, for example, not be a good time in their life, or can be a downright sign that the employee does not adhere to corporate values and would be better placed elsewhere,” says Carignan.
Developing for better or for worse
No absolute recipe exists when choosing a successor for a key position in a company. “Sometimes, people try to clone themselves,” she says. “Remember that a variety of profiles can yield equal results.”
The identification of talent pools, however, is not enough. Without development strategies, they will not go very far. We often put all our energy trying to fill the gaps of a person wanting to reach a certain level, rather than focus on their strengths. “Doing so certainly helps the person move from low to normal, but it does not contribute to helping the worker spread their wings and own their talent,” she says.
“All managers should be developers of talent every single day, especially in the feedback they offer,” she adds. It is therefore useless to wait for the official development program, which is implemented only every two years. We omit simple opportunities to learn in action every day.
Above all, we must try to see the development of initiatives as medium- and long-term gains rather than expenditure. Investing in employees is an investment in the health of your business.