Talent and Passion

I always thought that talent means someone that is super gifted or extraordinarily capable; simply because the word “talented” means “gifted and brilliant” in dictionary. But what does it means to be a talent? How can you know you are a talent? What can you do to measure up to the organization you work for?

Let me first tell you the benefits of being talented. 🙂

Generally the word talent in many organizations referred to someone that has the potentials to be groom and develop further.

So you can expect a little bit more attention will be given to you including to your performance. Talking about grooming and development, it can come in many forms such as training, coaching, mentoring, difficult assignments and expanded responsibility. So you will be busy being asked to do this and that, join this meeting and that discussion and so on. Why? Because everyone thinks you are talented so you can take more loads and deliver more results. That’s the “perks” of being a talent. Always on the go and on the move to get things done.

One of the biggest problem or concern you need to worry about of being talented is you are likely to be isolated when you first started by the incumbent talents (if you are entering an organization) or if you are a student, you will get some jesting of being too daring, too different, too special and many other “toos”.

My advice, get over it fast because it can kill you if you are mentally weak. Either by bridging the gaps with your colleagues, or simply ignore it by leading your life objectively.

While bridging the gap can be very useful to get things done, most of the time you have to conform to lower standards to get in (which a talent shouldn’t do, talent should set new and better standards). Otherwise build credibility fast enough so you are accepted. So, HR people and talents you need to watch this carefully because what’s the point of hiring talented individuals only to set them up to fail because the organization is not ready or misinformed.

Say that you are assessing a talent right now, look beyond conventional HR tools – psychometric, leadership and the whole spectrum of paralysis (too many analysis!). You need these tools as pre-requisite but just before final selection please consider these traits. There are management, leadership and integrity (MLI). The rests are secondary. Things such as education, language, cognitive ability and work experiences are considered done even before on-boarding together with those tools. Get it? Check out Google Hiring Do’s and Don’t’s.

Why MLI? The problem with talent is its latency. It is totally invisible and suppressed during job interview. A typical job interview won’t cut it. You need to provide an environment where the talent can feel at like talking to someone they know and be themselves. Only then they will open up cans of candies or worms. One more thing, to see talent is in the action or doing. You should include assignments or activities that can bring out those stuffs that you want to see. In short, a simple talent assessment centre would be nice.

Recent example was when I interviewed a candidate. His resume was impressive and he is neatly presentable. During the first 20 minutes he was maintaining his suaveness but I detect something too clean with his responses. It was scripted with niceties. You get what I mean? Then I started to change to more detailed information such as how did it, what was the results, how did he managed his superiors, how did he provide leadership, how to deal with tight deadlines and so on. He sweats a lot and became anxious. His true self emerged. He actually didn’t have much of the experience because he was an order taker, not a thinker or doer for that matter. Of course we didn’t hire him after that. He padded his CV far too much.

I was recently asked by under graduates and post graduates what exactly an employer means by talented people with passion. After some thoughts, I think this question also applies to young professionals with talent. One of them is in accountancy and the reason I used this because it is easy to explain what it means by someone talented and passionate at what they do.

Normally, an accountancy student will reason they like accountancy because they like numbers. They are comfortable dealing with multiple equations and digits. As one of my good friends (who is an accountant) said, “numbers can’t lie but what lies are numbers”. I know it’s tongue twisting but instructive. Then she asked me whether I think she is talented, I said yes because she has been hitting high marks and one of the best students in an UK university. Then she asked whether she is passionate about accountancy, I said no. I told her this, taking from my experience.

I have met an undergraduate who is talented and passionate. When asked with the same question, he said other than numbers that he likes to deal with, he can showed me financial reports from three banks (which can be easily obtained from internet) and shared with me about between three banks which one is more productive, which one should hire more people in certain department, which one should cut jobs in another department and how these banks can innovate their products to meet market demand. Now, you tell me! Hell yes this person is talented and very passionate. He goes beyond textbooks and examinations; he showed enthusiasm of the subject and the applications of what he knows. The same applies to other disciplines as well.

But still, in an organization even a talented and very passionate person have to go through MLI assessment as final measure. Put your talents on the line and see how they react and deal with it. At the end of the day, only results count. Our job in talent management is to ensure all these talented individuals know how to unleash their passion and produce business results in alignment with the organization goals. Afterall, today’s talent landscape is very different where majority don’t stay too long in the organization. Why not keep the processes nimble and serve the business purpose while the talents are around? There’s a saying, “People come and go, but the show must go on.”

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