Use of talents

I wrote about finding talents; but what do you do after finding them? Do you leverage them? Do you beat them into conforming with the system and structures you’ve created? The use of talents is more important than finding them because you’re not going to keep them if you think that the transaction is just about remuneration in exchange for them applying their abilities to your problems.

Conditions need to be created to leverage on our talents better and that can come from remuneration but it also involves the structure of work, processes and the environment created by managers and prevailing cultures.

If you don’t have them, then finding talents might be a waste of time and resources.

Finding talents

Why is it that we are complaining about the shortfall of talents and then laying off people at the same time? What makes talents talented? What exactly is this all about? I thought about how we as humans have been trying to overcome our own constraints by using machines and automation but then strangely we subsequently have to justify how much better we are compared to machines.

Isn’t that a rather miserable existence?

What about this elusive group of talents that employers are looking for? What is being asked of them? And how much if it is possible? What makes talents hard to find and why are those attributes difficult to replicate, duplicate or scale?

Anyways is it not the very reason they are unscalable that makes them well sought after? Money may well attract talents but what fuels them? What keeps them going the way they do? Perhaps those are the more important questions for employers to ponder over rather than wondering where to find them.

Market for talents

Are talents born? How would you know a baby is going to be a star violinist, or a top notch computer programmer? How would these kids first be incentivised to try things out to begin with? It’s more likely that there’s a market for the particular talent which the kid was exposed to and hence got started, and found himself or herself being able to do it well and hence the resources around him/her was attracted to support the development.

The market for talent is vital to encourage and develop talents. It is the presence of the market that allows people to aspire towards being a ‘successful X’ – be it a musician, or a chef, or mathematician. Kids don’t just wake up one day, look at a long path into the forest and say they want to work towards being a cross country runner.

Singapore have been able to nurture and attract talents essentially by drawing proven talents from elsewhere into the market and then celebrating them. The value of doing this can be powerful if resources are poured into directing the nurture of local talents concurrently. Careful thinking about this market and its design is important so that structures can be put in place to ensure this is a virtuous circle. Those identified as talents should be able to support others who are trying to develop themselves. Pay-it-forward type of mentorship should be encouraged.

And those who have benefited personally and individually can pool resources to nurture the next generation. It’s akin to successful lawyers or bankers giving back to their alma mater to start scholarships that support new lawyers and bankers.