Talent Management for Fun and Profit

Bob Wiesner | October 9, 2018

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Here’s a fascinating finding about people, leaders, and success: A small percentage of your people – perhaps only 2% – account for a massive part of the value you provide your clients or customers. So says this article in McKinsey Quarterly from an upcoming book.

2%! That’s amazing!

The authors go on to say how critical it is to find out who those 2% are, because the impact of people in any company is NOT correlated with their job title. Your most important people could be way down the org chart. You need to identify them, develop them, and ensure that they thrive.

But here’s another way of thinking about it.

Yeah, you will always have a small number of people who deliver results way out of proportion compared to others. But, what if you could lift the game of those others? Maybe they won’t match the top 2% in performance, but if they improved by 50%? 100%? 200%? It’s possible, right? And the returns could be awesome.

You’ve Got Two Challenges

Sounds great. Not so easy to do, without new thinking of your talent management approach.

First, you need to take a fresh look at how you evaluate talent. Can you really measure the value that people deliver?

Second, when you have a good idea of who these high-value performers are, what are you doing to keep them at that level? Just because they produce, doesn’t mean they love working for you. Are they energized? Thriving? Making other people around them better?

Third, what are you gonna do about the people outside the 2%? Do you have a talent management and development approach that will help them become more effective while feeling more energized about what they do?

Fourth, does your culture support these efforts? Do you have a culture of efficiency? Of productivity? Of growth and development? Helping people perform better while feeling a sense of purpose won’t deliver immediate results. Can you support them while they develop?

A Win-Win-Win Proposition

If this is a new approach to talent management for you, you’ll need patience and courage (and a few bucks) to make it work. But the results can be inspiring.

  • The organization will deliver better financials
  • You’ll have happier clients that will stay with you longer, bringing you more business opportunities at higher margins
  • You’ll be an “employer of choice.” People will love working for you, they’ll leave less often, you’ll have a larger talent pool to hire from.

Sometimes I’m amazed that more organizations haven’t come around to this point of view. Has yours?

Photo credit: Anetlanda / Getty Images



Most organizations that recognize the need to address their talent management strategy will, eventually, require some pretty major changes.

But you don’t need a huge initiative to start seeing people, and results, start to improve.

It’s now recognized by most organizations experts that the key pressure point in almost every company is middle management. People thrive – or people leave – directly due to the performance of their direct supervisor.

So to get the best results with the best ROI, start by turning your middle managers into better managers.

Managing for High Performance is your cut-to-the-chase solution. It’s a workshop that targets the behaviors – and attitudes – of first-line and middle managers that can propel the growth of their direct reports, whether they have 1, 10, or 50. And “growth” is the operational word. The workshop helps managers gain a terrific understanding of what motivates their people. They’ll explore the conditions that will draw the best from them while providing direct reports with the most rewarding and enriching environment. And they’ll probably become happier managers themselves, making better contributions to the organization.

Photo credit: gorodenkoff / Getty Images



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