The Only Talent Management Technique You’ll Ever Need

In January, the publisher Penguin Random House announced they’re no longer going to consider university qualifications when they recruit people. They say there’s no correlation between the bit of paper that says you went to uni and your ability to perform well at your job.

Penguin isn’t alone. Other organisations, like Deloitte, Price Waterhouse Coopers, and Ernst and Young have said the same thing. In fact, some of them have been harsher, saying that what you learn in university is a waste of time and it’s completely useless to your job.

Whether or not you believe that’s true, these companies believe it’s true – and that’s significant. These are major, well-known brands who do high-level consulting work. In the past, they recognised the importance of an academic qualification to provide the discipline and rigour for that work. But no more.

And it wouldn’t surprise me to see others follow suit.

Jobs no longer align with skills.

This isn’t a rant about the education system (Don’t get me started on that … They’re still teaching primary school kids to memorise times tables!). But it reflects a growing mismatch between jobs and skills.

We used to recruit people for jobs, and look for people with the right skills for those jobs. People with better skills could do the job better, so “talent management” was about finding, recruiting, rewarding and keeping the most-skilled people.

That’s no longer the case.

We now need “talent” far beyond the job description. The best people don’t just have job-related skills; they also have problem-solving skills, such as:

  • creativity
  • innovation
  • initiative
  • self-motivation
  • discipline
  • grit
  • flexibility
  • leadership
  • communication

These are the skills that make you, your team, and your organisation fit for the future.

Sadly, our mainstream education system just doesn’t equip students with those skills (It might claim that it does, but it doesn’t).

Jaime Casap, Google’s Education Evangelist, said this:

“Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. Ask them what problem they want to solve.”

But don’t just blame the education system!

Most leaders in most organisations don’t value and reward those skills either. Again, they might claim they do, but most don’t.

As a leader …

  • Do you really value initiative, or put down somebody who challenges you?
  • Do you reward innovation in your team, even if it fails to achieve results?
  • Do you recognise flexibility and grit, or penalise people who go off track?
  • Do you encourage leadership, or see it as a threat to your authority?
  • Do you champion the innovators, troublemakers, and misfits – even when other people are criticising them?
  • And do your organisational systems, processes, structures, and hierarchies promote or penalise smart, talented, problem-solvers?

Stop thinking “jobs”, start thinking “talent”.

If you want one simple tip to transform your talent management strategy, it’s this: It’s about talent!

Yes, you want talented people, but you don’t want to just stick them in tightly-defined jobs. If you really care about “talent”, then make use of their talent. All of it.

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