What are you talking about…Talent?

So, I will continue to at least partially disagree with you.

I do agree however that HR leaders and practitioners have lost all control of their language and that works against their ability to be precise and effective. Talent, skills, competencies are all great examples. They are each different things, but they all suffer from the same underlying issue…HR folks are not clearly and precisely defining them. So, people are talking to each other but using different language and different definitions and the conversation is sloppy and wasteful, as are the efforts that follow.

I do not believe that talent is innate. I do think that you are a talented speaker, and I would assume that parts of that are innate and parts of that have been learned…in fact in your particular case I know that is true. You are a more talented speaker now than you were five years ago and that is at least partially due to things that you have learned about speaking during that time. But my definition and understanding of what talent is is of no importance here.

I think that the larger and more important point is that leaders need to address this within their organizations. If HR is going to have clarity of purpose it must have some real clarity of the underlying concepts and fundamental variables it works with. I do not think that the profession is going to come to specific and applicable definitions, but I think that this can and should be done within organizations. Before you talk seriously about talent management, your organization should have clarity on what talent means to you. Before you talk seriously about competencies, your organization should have clarity on what a competency is for you.

I see this same thing happen all the time in talking to organizational leaders about diversity. They are often incredibly confused about why diversity is important, about why they should invest and how they should invest in diversity, and 90% of that confusion is based on inaccurate and differing definitions and understandings of diversity.

This all important foundation is often missing, and the work that is built without a foundation is always in jeopardy.


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