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What is Talent?
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What is Talent?

What is Talent?
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It is great to be with you and work on creating and building a robust talent pipeline, the future of your team, or your part of the company. Or the company itself relies on the important tasks of finding, developing, and building a cadre of talent to lead and take your company forward. Today I’m using the word talent as a noun, and together we will build a model for discovering what true talent is.
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In order to have the right person in the right place at the right time with the appropriate set of skills, abilities and talent, you have to have a pipeline that is connected. In place and full of people working in their functions in the company or in your team ready to move and go where the strategy needs to take you. You need to have a connected and integrated set of processes and systems supported by IT systems, if possible, that create knowledge of talent. Who, what, where, how are they? What they’re good at. What they can get better at. Where they can move, their ability to move. And the governance to move them and to develop talent throughout the organization.
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At the team level, you have that power to assure that you have the right people. It will take a system and processes to support the larger company’s need for talent. So, as you can see in this picture, a big pipeline of unconnected pipes. You have to have a talent pipeline. Why? Because you need to ensure that you’re ready, you’re able to act to get the job done when the job is open. And how are you gonna do this again? What are the processes? First, you always have to understand the strategy. Then you have to recruit and select for the strategy. Onboard well and identify the talent. Differentially develop the talent.
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You have to develop everyone, but differentially, we have to develop the talent that will lead the company forward. We want to engage all employees well and plan for succession, and we need to be supported by very robust HR systems and processes. Here we have all of the pipes linked together. The order may vary, the stages may move back and forth, but there must be harmony. Key HR systems and processes that can enable potential of people, enable potential and enable numerous people to be able to do the work at hand. Typically this means having sound integrated human resource planning, recruitment, selection, training, development, performance management. Career management, succession planning and the support of a good compensation and benefits process.
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Multiple processes perhaps to ensure that the talent pipeline is always filled and ready to go. This will allow people to move through the pipeline and ensure that the pipeline delivers the talent where and when it needs to be deployed, again, whenever the need arises. In order to build this robust pipeline, we must follow the elements I’ve listed here. We must actually know what talent is. I’m using the word talent as a noun, remember. You should have an idea what the pipeline is. But we’ll look a lot deeper today. We will learn about talent management, and all that supports it, to lead you to success.
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Meryl and Charlie are pretty amazing. They worked incredibly hard to perform at the highest level they could achieve, to achieve the gold medal in the Olympics. Here at the University of Michigan we’re very proud of them. Their high performance is the first of the five elements that research tells us underlies true talent. I’d like to build this model for you that contains the five most important qualities that I have found matter when identifying talent. Performance like that of Charlie and Meryl is the first of the qualities on this list. Ability and capability to execute what the person is faced with. High performance is being able to affect, to be able to execute.
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To meet the goals and objectives and further to exceed the expectations of others as well as the company itself. This is the first building block of the model that I’m building for you. I call it the A3E2 model. Here it is in complete form. I want to show you all of the building blocks more deeply, but we start with ability and capability, learning agility, aspiration, emotional intelligence, and engagement. Let’s look at the second of the elements, learning agility. Learning agility is a critical quality. Some say the most important quality to be termed a true talent. Let me tell you a little story.
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When I was the HR Vice President for our international operations around the world, I found that we were going to create four plants in four different country, all built on the same model. But I never really had the responsibility to build and staff plants globally around the world. Again like I’ve told you stories before, I thought to myself, I can’t do that job. But when I arrived in China and I saw the girders going up, ready to entertain the workers of a new culture, I really felt okay. I knew that I had accomplished other tasks that I’d never done before.
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Shockingly, the girders went up, the workers made the plant, we designed processes and systems to find the workers who were gonna staff that plant, and it became one of the best. In fact, the highest quality plants across the world for our company. It was an important team task, everybody working together, to find the best and brightest, to recruit them, to test them, to bring them on board, to onboard very well. And teach them and develop them in the tasks at hand, to create the highest quality automobile that could be made by human beings.
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So, once faced with a task that you’ve never done before and being able to integrate all of the things you’ve done before, the assignments, the development you had before is learning agility. So whenever I say, I can’t do that I have to remember, yeah I can. And those that you determine can do things by virtue of integrating what they’ve done before are true learning agile people.
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Here you see a representation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a symbol now in psychology, and I place it here for you to remind you of the next quality needed for our talent model. When I was reviewing my slides this morning, it was really funny, my husband glanced over at me and he said, is that my pyramid? And I said no, I should have taken one of your pictures of the Great Pyramid, as he works there and put it in my slides, but maybe next time. This Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this pyramid, shows the third quality, talent as aspiration. It means that you have to want it. You have to need it. It’s part of who you are.
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True talent have to have aspiration. But it’s not everyone that wants to move up and that’s a good thing. We need lots of people who love what they’re doing that want to remain in place, in their positions to execute, day after day, week after week, to do the work of the company. We need those people. But we also need those who aspire to something greater. That have true aspiration. Now here’s your assignment for today. No need to share. This is for you. And this is for you to be super honest. I want you to take a look at yourself. Where are you on these first three qualities?
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And then pick someone who you think is a potential talent in your organization or on your team. What about them? How do they rate? If they perform at the highest level that you expect, exceeding those expectations that I talked about, then they’re probably a 20. And if they meet 50% of the things that you expect maybe they’re at six, maybe they’re at eight, that’s up to you to really decide. Here are some forms to help you. You can download them and recreate them in your note-taking entity, however you take notes, and save these for our next session.
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Managing Talent

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