“Talent” has been a business buzzword for years.
In the 80s, nobody talked about “talent.” The business world stole that term from the entertainment world. “Talent” is a word we associate with virtuoso violinists and Rockettes and people who win Oscars and Grammys, but of course everyone brings talent to his or her work every day.
The sad thing is that lots of companies that drone on and on about Talent in their recruiting brochures and their annual reports have no understanding of what it means to value talent. If a company truly cares about snagging and keeping great people, it is easy to show it, but many or most employers, especially large ones, don’t do it.
How can you tell if a company cares about talent? Easy! They put people ahead of policies and rules. That’s exactly what most employers don’t do. They are quick to say “We can’t approve that” or “You’re not allowed to do that” or “I wish I could help you” the minute a person needs the tiniest accommodation or flexibility in order to, well, be human.
When you’re applying for a job, you can tell in a flash whether the organization is all talk and no action or whether they really care about the people they’re interviewing and potentially hiring. You can tell they don’t care about talent if they leave you waiting for weeks to hear back after a job interview.
Talk is cheap! Anybody can say, “Our company is powered by our talent,” but if the leaders don’t show in their actions that living, breathing people matter more to them than yardsticks pasted on the walls or policies in a dusty manual, then they don’t really know what the term “valuing talent” means. You deserve better!
Here are five signs your company is clueless about talent.
A company’s recruiting process gives you clear signals about the importance of people to the firm’s success. If the process is fast, warm and human, that’s a huge sign that you’re going to like the job. If the recruiting process is slow, bureaucratic and cold, it doesn’t matter how much they can pay you. If you take the job anyway, start planning for your next move quickly. These are not people who can help you grow your flame.
People who talk about valuing talent but don’t really mean it are likely to be clueless about a lot of other aspects of their business, too!
If your company or your individual manager tries to offer flexibility in your schedule or in other ways (like letting you work from home sometimes) that’s a great signal that you mean more to them than just a little box in an organizational chart. If the rule of thumb at your organization is “Everybody walks into work at the same time, no exceptions, and no one gets to leave early” then any talk of “talent” is just hot air.
The most evolved companies have already gotten rid of performance reviews but the most forward-looking of the firms who still conduct performance reviews make the process an open and collaborative one. If your company’s review process is a rubber-stamp on a manager’s thoughtless ratings on a grid, then you know how they feel about talent.
If your manager also tells you “I would have given you a higher rating, but I have to grade everyone on a curve” then it’s clear: Your company knows as much about attracting and retaining talent as I know about motorcycle repair (i.e., nothing).
Communication is loud, whether your company communicates effectively with its team members or not. As everybody knows, silence can be deafening! When you have no idea what the company is trying to accomplish or what good things will happen when they do, if you have no idea what your career path at your company might be or how you would take the first step, and if you have no idea what your manager thinks of your performance or what you might do to improve it, you’ve got your answer: Your company is clueless about talent!
The last signal that your organization hasn’t a clue about how to value people will come through loud and clear when it’s time for them to tell you the truth, and they don’t. In some organizations, the managers aren’t allowed to tell the truth. Rumors may be swirling about upcoming layoffs but the managers say, “If I knew anything, I would tell you.” That’s a clear sign to bolt! People who really care about talent won’t lie to you.
Our species is old. We have our five (or six?) senses, our trusty gut and the hairs on the back of our neck to clue us in when the wind has shifted. In this working world, we all need to keep our antennae up and pay attention to details that may seem insignificant at first glance. They are not.