places you are going to look for it a hundred times easier. It also means that when you do meet people, you have a clear framework and definition to assess against, removing the gut feeling and subjectivity that often surrounds hiring in the early stages of a start-up or fast growth business.
“Talent could be someone who has the potential to reach senior management within five years”
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Organisations often focus purely on identifying and hiring external talent rather than looking at current employees and assessing them against the same definitions or frameworks. If we go back to the two components of talent – capability and ability – ability is usually assessed and captured via performance appraisals but it’s rare that capability is focused on as routinely. The word ‘potential’ is used to suggest that the individual has the qualities required to perform and contribute in a larger or different role in the organisation in the future. These qualities could relate to their skills, motivation, commitment, experiences, personal characteristics, or abilities. It goes without saying that identifying the people – both internal and external to your organisation – who have the greatest potential will inevitably maximise your future organisational success. But, as always, the devil is in the detail. The question you need to ask yourself is ‘potential for what exactly’? Just as I believe you need to define what talent means to you in the context of your company and roles, you need to put the precisely same amount of effort into defining what potential means. And this again will not be one generic definition that applies to everyone. You are likely to end up with groups of talent pools. These could be based on seniority so, for example, ‘emerging talent’ would apply to more junior levels and ‘high potential talent’ would describe senior employees who are on the path to board positions. Alternatively, they could be functionbased talent pools: marketing talent, HR talent, finance talent, sales talent and so on and so forth. With talent loosely defined as someone having the ability and capability to do something well, it is up to you to take that loose criteria forward into a meaningful framework for the key parts of your business. If you are a business where people are your greatest asset, the focus and results you will receive from spending the time and energy defining what talent and potential mean to you will pay back exponentially.