The Way You Deploy Your Rock Star Talent Matters

A huge crowd is cheering a rock star on the stage for his talent

The research around talent management has uncovered some surprises.

We had thought that the best performing companies had the most star talent. But it turns out that, according to Bain & Company, “A” players are pretty evenly distributed across the workforce from company to company.  They found that about 15% of all employees are what you could consider both high performing and high potential.

So if it’s not the number of stars that makes the difference, what else did the study reveal? It was the way that the high performing companies deployed their top performers that made the difference. Instead of spreading them equally across the organization, Bain found they focused them in the most critical business operations…the functions most crucial to business success. This is the way they maximized productivity.

To replicate this in your own organization, here is the high level talent management strategy you need to follow once your business strategy is clear and you have created a high performance environment:

  1. Identify and develop your top talent where it matters most
    Do you know who has the greatest potential for high performance and leadership in your organization? Do you know which jobs, skills and roles matter most for your short- and long-term strategies? If not, it’s high time you figure it out.  You will know you are on the right track when (1) your leaders agree upon how your people will best contribute to your company’s competitive advantage both now and in the future (2) your best and brightest are in your most urgent and important positions.Remember, contribution varies from company to company and depends upon business strategies. For example, if innovation is the key to maintaining growth, then R&D is probably a place where you need to deploy and develop your best and brightest. If, instead, marketing is paramount to your future success, then this is an area to identify, develop and deploy your top talent.
  2. Treat your top talent differently
    Our organization alignment research found that talent accounts for up to 29% of the difference between high and low performing organizations. Smart talent leaders know that different employees contribute differently to company success based upon their role, skills and job. Because of this, winning organizations make sure that their talent strategy aligns with their unique organizational culture and business strategy.From a reward and recognition perspective, the theory is that the highest performers should receive the greatest share of rewards because they contribute the most and deserve the most.  While the exact percentages of rewards that go to the top high performers differ from company to company, be sure that your reward system provides enough motivation to support your objectives. As a rule of thumb, one-third of your employees should have access to significant rewards and recognition based upon their performance.
  3. Keep an eye on the results and shift talent as needed
    Don’t just sit back once job assignments have been made. There are two reasons to stay vigilant: 1) “A” players need challenges and the opportunities to grow and 2) the marketplace is constantly changing…what worked one year may not work the next. Keep your top players motivated with opportunities that stretch them and lead to ever more important roles. They want variety. This is good since they then can develop the flexibility that allows you to shift them as business needs change.

The essence of smart talent management is deploying your “A” players where they will have the greatest business impact and then doing what it takes to develop, engage and retain them. Assign them to business-critical areas first. But monitor their level of happiness with their job and, as situations change, be ready to offer a different challenging assignment.

To learn more, download Talent: 1/3rd of the Talent Management Recipe for Success

 

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