Definition: Talent Management refers to the process of developing and integrating new workers, developing and retaining current workers, and attracting highly skilled workers to work for a company.
Talent…Management. The two words say so much. One, that everyone who works with you/for you is “talent.” Next, somehow, the talent has to be managed.
But, as we all know, there is no magic formula. There are only guidelines – hints. And many of these are quite good, like:
• only hire people who can to the job at hand very well
• only hire people who can get along well with others
• make sure that each person is doing what he/she is best at
• give people the training and support they need to get better at their job
• recognize and reward excellent work
• praise in public; criticize in private
• if you’ve got the wrong person in place, make a change in the next 3 seconds – every second, every day, you delay, you drag down the morale of everyone. (This is a remarkably consistent theme in many books we’ve presented over our 12+ years).
In other words: hire well; train well; encourage well; recognize/reward well… and keep in touch with the current thinking of your “talent.” Know what their strengths are now, their weaknesses, and their concerns.
These are all wise suggestions/reminders, and we have presented a number of books at the First Friday Book Synopsis over the years to help you better “manage talent.” My favorite is still the classic Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, which I presented more than a decade ago (hard to believe!), and recently Karl presented his synopsis of Make Their Day!: Employee Recognition That Works by Cindy Ventrice – a very fine, practical book.
But here is my latest thinking about talent management. We have to add an element right now that is crucial. People who manage talent have to read the current state/mood/thinking of the talent they manage.
Here is why. This is an era of great uncertainty and anxiety. We all read the news. Companies are reluctant to hire (even companies with plenty of cash available); and joblessness continues to be a pervasive problem. And though the unemployment rate for college graduates is still low (4.5%, much lower than the overall unemployment rate), a growing number of college graduates are “settling” for jobs that are not what they had hoped for/signed up for with their college and/or graduate school education. It really is an age of uncertainty and anxiety.
And an anxious employee is uncertain, tentative – not at his/her best. Uncertainty breeds loss of confidence, thus loss of competence.
Successful Talent Management is going to increasingly require leaders — all those who supervise others — to help people survive and successfully navigate such uncertain waters. People need to feel secure, and then confident in their abilites (and their company).
Talent Management, more than ever before, is going to have to add “confidence building” to its list of practices.
I am saddened today when I read about the passing of Bobby Thomson. His “shot heard ’round the world” put the New York baseball Giants into the 1951 World Series. This was a dramatic home run that gave the Giants the National League pennant.
Here is the link to the article on Sports Illustrated.com that details his accomplishments, his life, and the famous game.
You can also watch the original video with one of the most excited play-by-play voices you will ever hear.
As you might suspect, many authors have included stories about this home run. Here are just a few:
I am always interested in how single events like this find their way into countless numbers of books. And for everyone who was not alive in 1951, it is an important link to history. I am certain we have not seen the last book on this subject.
Here is an article written by Steve Tobak for BNET, The CBS Interactive Business Network. To obtain a free subscription for one or more newsletters , please click here.
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The vast majority of business books are garbage, but over the course of twenty-something years I managed to find five that made a difference. These aren’t books that inspired me, changed my life, helped me find my cheese, or taught me 7 habits.
These are books of substance that taught me how to be a successful marketing executive and provided tools I’ve used over and over to help companies succeed.
No, I’m not Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but with all due respect, neither are you, right? Besides, I’ve had, still have, a relatively successful career. So I’m thinking there’s a decent chance that whatever epiphanies worked for me may also work for you. At least that’s the theory.
One more thing you should probably know. I don’t like to read business books. You see, I don’t have much respect for the authors, most of whom are academians and self-proclaimed experts or “gurus” with no real-world experience whatsoever. Call me crazy, but I think that sort of limits their credibility in advising anyone in the real world, let alone managers and executives.
That said, there are exceptions. Not only that, but there was a time when I wasn’t so jaded and full of myself, when I thirsted for knowledge, when my CEO was constantly leaving business books on my desk for me to read. So read I did.
And hey, don’t let some of the “marketing” titles fool you. Many of our modern concepts of business and markets are derived from these books, so everyone with management or executive aspirations will benefit from reading them.
Lastly, I limited my commentary to what each book taught me; they’re not book reviews:
What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack
Provides dozens of practical lessons on what works and doesn’t work in the real business world, critical lessons in selling, marketing, managing, running a business, indispensible stuff I used throughout my career. Also taught me to ignore the academic stuff and trust my own instincts and common sense.
The Tao of Leadership by John Heider
As a young executive with a lot to prove and even more angst about my ability to prove it, this book showed me that leadership meant doing almost the exact opposite of everything that came naturally to me. People who worked for me back in the day may laugh at the thought of me being Tao-like, but they never saw what I was like before I read this book. Actually, I studied the lessons … still do.
The Marketing Imagination by Theodore Levitt
Setting out to learn a new trade in the early 90s – marketing – I don’t know what I did in a previous life to deserve just happening upon Levitt’s masterpiece. From globalization to the service economy to competitive differentiation, this book called so many things right it’s almost a one-stop-shop for everything that matters about marketing.
Relationship Marketing by Regis McKenna
If I had to find a bulls-eye – the one thing my success was built on – it’s positioning. Corporate positioning, product positioning, market positioning, competitive positioning, any kind of positioning, call it what you want, it all started here. McKenna literally wrote the book on positioning.
Marketing High Technology by William H. Davidow
More practical than the other two marketing books, Davidow’s is the high-tech marketing bible, especially for product marketers. It taught me about the power of market segmentation and the cost of gaining market share. It also helped me to better define the marketing function.
1. Liars Poker, Michael Lewis. Besides being one of the funniest books ever, Lewis taught me that I can ditch my executive career and still be a successful writer.
2. The Dilbert Principle, Scott Adams. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Also, people are most productive in the morning; I switched my staff meetings to the afternoon.
Now it’s your turn: what business books made the biggest practical impact on your career?
Also check out:
Destroy the Competition With Positioning Strategy Click here.
Marketing is Dead – Long Live “Real Marketing” Click here.
Tad Waddington is Director of Performance Measurement for Accenture. He received his PhD in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistical Analysis from the University of Chicago. He is the co-author of Return on Learning: Training for High Performance at Accenture and the author of Lasting Contribution: How to Think, Plan, and Act to Accomplish Meaningful Work, which has won six prestigious awards. Fluent in Chinese, Tad is Global Senior Advisor to the Asia-Pacific CEO Association Worldwide. He also sits on three boards on three continents. He is also among my most cherished personal friends.
Morris: Before discussing Return on Learning and then Lasting Contribution, a few general questions. First, please explain your interest in and extensive associations with various Asian countries, notably with China.
Waddington: I suspect my interest in learning Chinese began in high school when I read Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and wanted to learn a (very) different language so I could think differently. I was also interested in philosophy so learned ancient Chinese and got a master’s in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago’s Divinity school. I’ve been going to China since 1983 so have friends throughout the region. And in a stunning act of bad planning, I married a Japanese woman.
Morris: What are some of the most common misconceptions in the U.S. about China and its objectives?
Waddington:People think that China is a rich and powerful country. It has half the per capita GDP of Botswana. People talk about “China” and “Chinese food” as if it were one thing, but we don’t do that with Europe and China is 1.6 times the size of Europe with far greater linguistic variety. Remember that a language is a dialect with an army. Many of what we call dialects are mutually unintelligible. I could go on, but just these two points—a huge, poor country—already give you an understanding of China’s objectives: To feed and employ its people without falling into chaos. Indeed, China’s objectives are far more tame than they could be; the West twice invaded China (1839-1842 and 1856-1860) to force them to buy opium and yet I’ve never heard the Chinese say they wanted revenge.
Morris: What can we learn from China?
Waddington:Absolutely nothing relating to business. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but think about this: When the West started doing business with Japan we wrote hundreds of books on Japanese management. I can’t think of one on Chinese management and I think I’ve found a clue as to why this is and it’s not just the effects of Socialism. If you look up “List of oldest companies” [click here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldest_companies%5D, the five oldest are Japanese, starting with a construction company in the year 578. It takes time to get good at something.
Morris: Both of us are the beneficiaries of a superb formal education. Here’s my question. How specifically have your studies at ASU, and then at the University of Chicago (both divinity school and graduate school) guided and informed, indeed nourished your personal development?
Waddington: I finished high school barely literate, having read fewer than ten books in my lifetime, but I graduated from ASU with a 4.0 GPA. I still have professors who tell me, “We live for students like you.” You can imagine how very little I slept those four years, but I learned discipline of mind. At the Divinity School I learned how to read, to see not just what is in the text, how it all fits together, and how it fits with other texts, but also how to see what’s not in the text and why and how it fits. With the PhD I learned to do the same thing with numbers. In short, I learned to think, which has nourished every aspect of life.
Morris: Here’s a follow-up question. As you reflect back on your years as a student, which books seem to have served as the most valuable “magic carpets” because they enabled your mind, heart, and soul to go where they had not been before?
Waddington: You are looking for an answer like Suntzu’s Art of War, which I’ve read quite a few times in the original, but a more honest answer is Han Yu’s (768-824) writings and is irrelevant, because it isn’t the content that mattered, but the process. I know the exact moment I became an intellectual: 3:41 a.m. on Thursday, April 12, 1990. By day I was reading Gadamer’s Truth and Method; the meaning of a text isn’t in the text and it’s not in the reader; nor is it in the intentions of the author. Meaning comes from a dialectic between the reader and the text, blah, blah, blah. At night I was translating Han Yu, averaging the blistering pace of about an hour a word. In frustration I thought, “I just want somebody to tell me what this means.” Then I realized that nobody could. Even if the professor walked in right then and told me, I would have disagreed, because I’d already considered that translation and rejected it for good reasons. I realized that I had tried every possible permutation of interpretations, still didn’t have enough data to be certain, but had to make a decision anyway and then take responsibility for that decision. It sounds abstract and esoteric, but that is the nature of judgment and it has helped me in business, in parenting, in everything.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Carolyn Hoyt’s interviews of four women gurus: Marianne Williamson, Charlene Li, Renée Mauborgne and Louise Hay
Here is an extension of an article that appeared in the February/March (2010) issue of PINK magazine. Carolyn Hoyt interviews four women gurus: I have selected one Q&A for each. To read the complete article, please click here. You can also sign up for a free subscription to PINK’s e-Newsletter.
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Women are upending the whole idea of a “business guru” by transcending business as usual. These four sages deliver wisdom and wit to millions – and impact every corner of women’s lives.
By Carolyn Hoyt
Our exclusive interviews with four of the most interesting, provocative and inspirational women gurus today – Marianne Williamson, Charlene Li, Renée Mauborgne and Louise Hay – were just too good to go partly unpublished. So in addition to their conversations with us that appear in the February.March issue of PINK here are the rest of their words of wisdom.
Marianne Williamson’s legendary success includes a first book, A Return to Love, that spent 35 weeks as America’s No. 1 favorite read, and her most recent, The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife, which hit No. 2 on The New York Times best-seller list in its first week. Last fall she spoke to packed houses in Boston, Phoenix, London, Los Angeles and New York, to name just a few. With only a single employee, Williamson’s business is basically self-run and, reflecting the beliefs she preaches, pursues a spiritual path. She has been named by major publications as one of the 50 most influential baby boomers.
Hoyt: How is your own spirituality reflected in your work?
Williamson: In many ways. I have always taken my nonprofit work as seriously as my work within the profit-making sector. In 1989, I founded an organization in Los Angeles called Project Angel Food, which basically was meals on wheels for homebound people with AIDS. More recently, I am pushing an agenda of peace, with the founding of the Peace Alliance, which supports legislation to establish a United States Department of Peace. I have always wanted to play to an audience that is like me. I want to write books or give talks which, if I were in the audience or I were the reader, I would appreciate. And there have definitely been times in my life when I knew that what I wanted to talk about was not popular in the moment. For instance, in 1998, I wrote a book about healing the soul of America at a time when my primary readership, the spiritual and metaphysical community, didn’t want to hear about politics. Today, of course, that’s changed. With issues of social activism, sacred activism, a whole new conversation has emerged, where virtue is its own reward and the ultimate high is feeling, at the end of the day, like I contributed to my community or my society, whether or not it’s popular. I think that while this decision may have been, at times, to my detriment financially, it has contributed to my stature. I have a voice in society. And I have lived enough to know that, ultimately, abundance flows from your name as well as your product.
Charlene Li’s breathtaking rise as an authority on emerging technologies has garnered her a long list of accolades, including “one of the most influential people in Silicon Valley.” In October, she was keynote speaker for an event that drew more than 300 attendees, and early this year she will headline a conference that draws more than 5000. But her biggest audiences are – where else? – online. She writes several popular and influential blogs found at altimetergroup.com, charleneli.com and svmoms.com. With two young children and a new office in her home (where she has yet to purchase bookshelves), Li has a lot to say about women professionals in the 21st century.
[Note: I highly recommend her recently published book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead.]
Hoyt: What’s next for women of your generation?
Li: I see women going anywhere they want to. And I do mean want to. Because a lot of people measure success merely by position, title and salary. I think women feel comfortable enough in their own skin to put that secondary to what they want. They don’t have to define success by the measure of society. People often say to me, “How come you don’t want to be CEO of a company?” And I tell them, “I don’t want to.” I know I can do it, but I don’t enjoy it. Why does that have to be the definition of success?
I also think that women no longer have to set up a boundary between work life and home life. One of the hallmarks of my thinking is that I bring a lot of my personal life into my work. That’s a huge advantage I have over men, who may feel they have to separate the two.
Along with her co-author, W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne has been called “the No. 1 guru of the future” by L/Expansion, France ‘s leading business magazine. Their book, Blue Ocean Strategy (Harvard Business School Press, 2005), ranks as the fastest-selling title in its publisher’s history. So it comes as no surprise that Mauborgne’s speaking skills are in high demand. She gave the keynote address to an audience of 5,000 at the World Business Forum in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, an event that also included speakers Bill Clinton, Jack Welch and Malcolm Gladwell. And she is a fellow of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the annual gathering of CEOs, political leaders and thought leaders from across the world. Mauborgne is a professor at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and is also co-founder and co-director of the Blue Ocean Strategy Institute.
Hoyt: What exactly is the “blue ocean”?
Mauborgne: As new global players enter the world stage from all corners of the globe, be it China, India, Brazil or Eastern Europe, companies in most industries are finding themselves stuck in what I call a “red ocean” of bloody competition. This environment is characterized by intense competition, market-share battles, declining price points and commodization of offerings. The question is, “What will it take to thrive in this new world economy?”
My answer is to create what I call “blue oceans” of uncontested market space. Here, the aim is not to compete, but to make the competition irrelevant and create a larger economic pie. It is worth noting that historically, the focus on beating rivals fundamentally traces back to military strategy. Under military strategy, because the land on the Earth is limited and given, the only way to expand territory or market share is at the expense of another. Hence, someone’s gain can only be achieved at another’s loss. To win, you must make another lose. What the world has shown us, however, is that while the land on Earth may be limited, the ‘blue ocean’ of new market space that can be created and captured is unlimited. Just think of how many multimillion- and multibillion-dollar businesses exist today that did not exist even 30 years ago: cell phones, biotechnology, snowboards, ring tones, social networking sites, search engines … tooth whitening!”
Louise Hay’s first book, Heal Your Body, started as a 12-page pamphlet but has since been translated into 25 languages. That kind of meteoric rise is the story of her entire career – which started in counseling in the early 1970s before growing into a veritable self-help empire, anchored by her publishing company, Hay House. Hay’s charitable offshoots – the Hay Foundation and the Louise L. Hay Charitable Fund – channel millions to people living with AIDS, battered women and other “challenged individuals” in society. Her monthly column, “Dear Louise,” appears in more than 50 worldwide publications. And she’s been dubbed the “Mother of the New Age,” the “Queen of Affirmation” and, in the Australian media, “the closest thing to a living saint.”
Hoyt: What are we forgetting as we focus more than ever on advancement?
Hay: Ourselves. How to fulfill ourselves. How to make ourselves happy. We get too caught up in the moneymaking part of life. My own biggest concerns are to stay healthy and happy. I think the business will take care of itself and, when I put that thought out into the world, it happens. My company is absolutely growing and growing and growing. We do seminars, sometimes, for 7,000 people. These are people, predominantly women, who are seeking, who want to know more, who want to improve the quality of their lives, who want to find themselves.”
I like to think about legacies. In this life, we all should leave a legacy. I didn’t enter this whole world until I was in my 50s, when my first book was published. Now I’m 81 and having an absolutely wonderful time in life. Recently a rose was named after me – an apricot hybrid. It is so beautiful, and long after I’m gone this rose will be around bringing beauty to the world. I like that idea very much.
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“It’s tempting to think that decisions that are not life-and-death are therefore unimportant, and that the little compromises we make don’t matter to our bottom line or our spiritual selves. How many of us are tempted, in business, to make a less-than-ethical decision? To appropriate someone else’s idea or fudge some numbers? We have to remember that maintaining our ethical and spiritual selves is absolutely linked with achieving the degree of success we’re working toward.” Marianne Williamson
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To read the complete article, please click here. You can also sign up for a free subscription to PINK’s e-Newsletter.