In his article, “Thomas Edison’s Reaction to His Factory Burning Down Shows Why He Was So Successful”, Richard Felon narrates that Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I will start all over again tomorrow.” For sure, he stuck to his words and the next morning started rebuilding his empire without even retrenching any of his employees. Even though the fire destroyed years of priceless records and prototypes, and his insurance covered approximately a third of the total damage, talent and skill made it easy for Edison to rebuild his factory and make more than $10 million in revenue the following year.
If your current organisation is destroyed, will it be able to rise again? If the current buildings you operate in and the equipment is to burn down, and insurance does not pay, will you be able to build another similar organisation? Rarely would the organisation rise again! Not because there will be no financial capital to rebuild, but because there will be no talent to rebuild. With good talent of employees and management, you will not be moved by the value of the buildings, for they are worth less than the talent. It is talent of employees and management that builds or lack of it that destroys company value.
Very few organisations have understood the importance of talent management at all levels of the organisational structure. The success of the organisation, especially in the global world, lies in its people and its management. With the right people and management, financial capital will flow. Positively, it is becoming obvious to some business owners and executives that financial capital is no longer the major constrain to companies, but talent. It is the right talent that makes the engines turn, it is the right talent that develop good systems and processes, it is the right talent that knows how to retain customers and it is the right talent that makes good decisions that drive the business forward.
Organisations that believe that all their staff is talent stand a higher chance of success than an organisation that regard only a few individuals as talent to the organisation. In Zimbabwe, some companies that have shutdown had the stamina to navigate the turbulence, but talent lacked! Regardless of the other factors that affected industries, lack of talent to steer the companies through turbulence lacked and is still lacking in several organisations. Most problems faced by companies are people driven, due to lack to talent!
Amid turbulence, it is the talented and the wise who will emerge more profitable than before, as they concentrate on opportunities rather than the crisis. It is not every crisis that calls for shutdown, but some crisis opens massive doors to opportunity. To develop talents to see opportunities in employees and management, education is an important part. However, education should not be limited to one dimension, the knowledge dimension, but should cover all the other dimensions which include the understanding and the wisdom dimensions. Education that is limited to knowledge, thus facts and figures, has never been good for anything much. It is the organization that hire people who have education in all three dimensions that do much better and has an incomparable competitive advantage. More than eighty percent of education takes place outside the classroom, and this 80% is in the understanding and wisdom dimensions, which are rarely found in any classroom. Thomas Edison only spent a few months in a classroom, so is Henry Ford! Educational certificates are not a guarantee that the students are now talented to operate in the field of their study. There are several people who are degreed in the wrong fields, and when an organisation hires such people, its performance is likely to be negatively affected. Few people do understand what they studied and are wise to independently think to solve problems. Additionally, several education systems do not teach ‘independence’, but ‘dependence’! However, there are some challenges to managing talent, therefore the managers must create an environment that allows talent to thrive and grow. If the organisation’s leadership has limited skills in managing talent, chances are that they will lose out and remain mediocre organisations. It is never an easy target to lead “clever” people, they have a way of keeping the manager on his or her toes, but for the good of the organisation. If a manager does not have the will and the drive to keep track of talent, then they do not belong to the organisation for they will be pulling the organisation down.
Some good companies have been taken to the dogs by managers who did not understand or were afraid of talent and worked so hard to silence it. Even though it is difficult to manage talented employees, every manager should learn to work with talent, for the good of the organisation. At the end, it is the organisation that must benefit and not for one individual to feel like they are the life blood of the organisation.
It is foolishness for one individual to think they are the organisation, for the organisation have a longer life than them. The company will still go on, in the absence of those who are present today, and to be able to do that talent should be continuously nurtured in the organisation. Some of the challenges posed to the organisation by talent that every leader should understand and manage well include;
=Talent need leaders of the organisation to be on their level intellectually in all spheres – if a low level of intelligence is displayed by management, talent shuts off and stops to pay attention. By intelligence, it is not the certificates, but what one knows and does.
=Talent is very mobile – talented employees are sort by many organisations. Therefore, when you are dealing with talent, you must always know that someone wants to snatch them. As a result, to keep such a talent, you have to offer more than what every organisation will be offering, for you to reap more than what every organization will be reaping.
= Talent need freedom to experiment and fail – the road to success has so many failures along the way. As a good business leader, you should be willing to allow talent to experiment to come up with new products and services that improves customer satisfaction. It is not always money that pushes people to do more in an organisation, but the freedom to express their talents without being crucified for mistakes. Good leaders do not forever cheerlead good performance, neither do they vilify someone for ‘an occasionally’ poor performance.
=These days of the internet has changed a lot of how things work, information is readily available, and talent now knows their value and they expect you to know it as well. When you value the talent that you have in your organisation, they in turn value you as a leader and the organisation. If you fail to recognize talent, your staff turnover ratio will be high. On the lighter note, if your organisation has not hired anyone new in the past three years, chances are you are moving with deadwood and no-one is seeking it!
= Of great interest is that talent do not want to be led, they want to be inspired. The old way of leading an organisation, that of using threats, is no longer the kind of leadership expected these days. Things have changed, so is leadership styles! Talent needs more responsibility and want to lead themselves, and they are looking for inspiration from the leader. They work so hard when they are inspired rather than when they are threatened by demotions or dismissal. The language of demotions and dismissal is an old language and it does not achieve good results today.
Every leader must take note of the younger generation that is entering their organisation. A new generation is regarded to be smarter than the previous generation, they are more knowledgeable and more literate than their parents or bosses about the way things have changed. Rob Goffee once said that if you want the younger generation to turn right tell them to turn left and vice versa! Noticeably, talented employees have certain attitudes that every manager or leader should know to be able to lead successfully, and these attitudes include;
= They want to feel special.
= Sometimes they would not thank you for the obvious!
= These people want instant access to the decision makers as they hate bureaucracy.
= They are not moved by job titles and promotions, but by their work.
= They are easily bored by repetitive work.
To conclude in the words of Lawrence Bossidy, “Nothing we do is more important than hiring people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not strategy.
” Batanai Kamunyaru is a business writer, speaker and coach. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or +263 718 852 489.