What Michelangelo Can Teach Us About Talent Strategies: Part I
A Lesson From the Past
Rewind to the 16th century. The Renaissance
One of the most celebrated artists in all of recorded history, Michelangelo Buonarroti is purported to have once said that he did not “create” sculptures, rather, he merely “removed what was on the surface to reveal what was hidden underneath.”
Hold that thought!
To extend the metaphor, perhaps a new way to think about talent strategies is to approach it the way Michelangelo probably approached his craft. To produce his most majestic works, he had to first believe that there was something beneath the surface, something worth uncovering. With that mindset as his internal canvas, he then had to systematically remove everything that was preventing what was hidden underneath to become visible. Finally, through deliberate, sometimes gentle, sometimes more forceful actions, he eventually enabled the finished product to be revealed. And what magnificent treasures they are!
In almost all sectors of life, this metaphor for revealing the hidden potential of talent is applicable. As mentors, coaches, bosses, and teachers, we should constantly be asking ourselves questions that increase the impact of our work. Questions such as: What can I do to uncover the untapped potential in those I influence? What guidance can I offer, what questions can I pose, and what experiences can I provide that would help to uncover each person’s true talent?
The Current State of Talent Strategies
Talent strategies are now the current buzz. Just look around at what’s going on. Start-up companies are springing up with glitzy technology solutions. Recruiters are utilizing social media to find new sources of talent. Mature companies are revisiting their compensation packages trying to entice employees to stay put, and most companies now have senior level positions dedicated exclusively to the task of Talent Acquisition and Development.
Further, recent survey data suggests that only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged with their jobs (Gallup report, 2017), and that a high percentage of employees would leave their jobs for what they perceive are better ones. This presents companies with a complex challenge. Improving productivity and engagement levels by matching skills against business requirements, thus enabling employees to tap their greatest talent passions and capabilities. But how?
A Lesson from Science…
Science has taught us that our biological DNA is a blueprint of possibilities and that this blueprint contains all the foundational elements necessary to produce extraordinary outcomes.
Much like biological DNA, what we can call -“Workforce DNA” also contains the foundational elements necessary to produce extraordinary outcomes –outcomes that are possible, but only if we create the circumstances that will enable them to occur.
What are the Foundational Elements of Workforce DNA?
Like its biological counterpart, Workforce DNA consists of two, highly inter-connected elements: Performance and Motivation each consisting of vast amounts of untapped potential. Consider the following:
Psychologists have known for decades…
That there is vast, untapped potential within every person.
That there is an unmistakable connection between Performance and Motivation.
That what are called “Extrinsic” factors such as money, working conditions, or job clarity have very little to do with high levels of Performance or Motivation.
And that what are called “Intrinsic” factors such as doing work that aligns with a deeply held purpose, developing personal competence, or truly making a difference are the things that create deep levels of energy, passion and commitment.
What people say they want in their jobs and what science tells us
Excerpts from the book, Drive, by Daniel Pink
When work requires more than very basic skills, what motivates people is:
– the sense of being self-directed, being in charge of my own work.
– the desire to continue to get better at what I do
– feeling and believing that the work I do truly matters.
What some thought leaders tell us about tapping untapped talent:
Excerpts from business school professors and strategy gurus, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad
“The traditional resource allocation task of top management has received too much attention when compared to the task of resource leverage. Instead of achieving linear growth by adding new resources, companies should more efficiently extract the capability of people and watch growth skyrocket.”
Said another way… What people want most in their jobs is: to do the kind of work and work for the kind of company where they can be truly passionate and committed about what they do. And Passion and Commitment are deeply inter-connected with Performance and Motivation!
Now Ask This Question: “If You Had a Way to Unlock Even a Small Amount of the Untapped Performance and Motivation Potential of Your Workforce, What Would the Impact Be To Your Business?”
Part II will be published next Tuesday.
About the Authors
Richard Mirabile, Ph.D., is an Organizational Psychologist whose current focus of work is Executive Coaching, Building High Performance Teams and Designing Talent and Leadership Development Strategies. He was formerly a Guest Fellow at the Center for Leadership Development, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. Prior to that, he was the Founder and CEO of Success Factor Systems, the predecessor company to what is now SAP Success Factors. In previous roles, Dr. Mirabile has been a Partner in the Leadership Consulting Practice of Heidrick & Struggles, a Director of Human Resources for GTE – Telephone Operations Group, a guest lecturer at the Graduate School of Human Resources, University of Texas at Austin and an Assistant Professor at Purdue University.
Kelley Steven-Waiss is Chief Human Resources Officer at HERE Technologies, overseeing the company’s human resource management and talent strategy.
Prior to joining HERE, Kelley Steven-Waiss was Executive Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources for Extreme Networks, responsible for the company’s global human capital strategies. Before that she held numerous executive management, including at Integrated Device Technology (IDT) and PMC-Sierra, as well as consulting positions in large global consulting, public software and retail companies.
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