Why Talent Optimization?
Have you ever given a team member direction on a project and their finished product was not remotely what you envisioned, or even close to what you feel you communicated? In that moment, you have three primary options sitting in front of you…
- Send them back to try again.
- Takeover and look for their replacement.
- Evaluate where you missed it and start over using a different approach.
It’s not uncommon for supervisors and managers to miss it when communicating with their team members. However, would you even know where to begin if you tried to do something different? You may want to start by asking yourself these questions – What does this person need? How are their needs different than what I offered? What if I customized my communication to their needs and not my preferences? Do I even know how to differentiate the two?
Learning how people are wired and what makes them come alive in their work is at the heart of talent optimization. It’s not just greater day-to-day productivity but unlocking the potential of each team member to increase their fulfillment within your organization. Fulfilled team members give more to their jobs, teams, and organizations than the minimum effort given by those who are just trying avoiding termination. Fulfilled and engaged team members treat the organization like they are owners, not hired hands. They work enthusiastically to see the vision of a preferred future that you as a leader or a leadership team hold up for all to see.
What is Talent Optimization?
The simplest definition for talent optimization is designing and aligning your people strategy to your business strategy. So, what really is a people strategy? In its simplest form, a people strategy is putting the right people in the right roles to ensure that they are doing the right things. But how do you know which role is right and for whom? That’s where things either get dicey, or exciting!
We are living in the age of technology, right? Now more than ever we can use objective behavioral data to gain insights into what activities each type of person is best designed to execute day to day. The tool we use with our clients is The Predictive Index. PI takes talent management to the next level with their scientifically backed assessments that are scalable (it only takes 6minutes to complete the behavioral assessment) and able to be packaged into potent, digestible reports that equip managers and leaders with the right information to optimize their teams.
Business Case – Putting Talent Optimization to the test
Leap Development worked with two executives who oversee a portfolio of franchise units for an ownership group. The initial goal of the project was for Leap to assist these executives in understanding the key behavioral differences between each unit operator and helping the executives customize their leadership approach to the behavioral wiring of each low-performing operator. Our goal was to track the pre-identified metrics (franchise wide) that drive financial performance through each unit over one to two quarters. Our ultimate goa was to improve financial performance through talent optimization. Specifically, we applied behavioral data insights into how each operator was managed to uniquely execute the work in a manner that aligned to their behavioral data. See full case study here.
We measured 9 operators who were the bottom performers of the overall portfolio. We tracked the KPI’s for 8 of those operators for the entire length of the experiment (1 operator quit before the project began). We excluded the results of 2 operators as they did not get any of the interventions implemented by the executives due to unforeseen circumstances. Of the 6 remaining operation that we tracked, five saw improvement in billable hours, which is the primary driver of revenue growth. The increase in billable hours for those five operators ranged from 11%-38%. The operator that did not see improvement did not receive the interventions until after our measurement period had concluded.
What makes talent optimization possible is a belief that people at every level of the organization can contribute to the organization in a meaningful way. When that core belief permeates the culture, you can introduce tools like the Predictive Index (PI) behavioral assessment to understand what each person on your team needs and how to best lead your people.
Once you have started to expand your understanding of what drives your team, the next layer of work is learning to apply that understanding in a way that develops your people. Actively developing your people to increase their effectiveness in their roles not only increases their current engagement but enables you to grow them into potential roles in the future. At times, however, you may identify that some team members may be in a role that is not congruent with who they are and need an opportunity that’s found in a different role within the organization. In some scenarios, the best option for the team member is to be encouraged to find a new role with another organization that is better suited to who they are and what comes naturally to them.
As a leader if you can help people find meaning and purpose in their work or aid them in finding a fit outside your organization, you will begin to attract talented people who know that when they work with you, they will learn and grow which is significant part of the road to fulfillment.
Finally, it is important to note a four-month intervention is a beginning to talent optimization. Remember, your people are not the problem you’re trying to fix. Effective leadership and management are about finding the role fit and lane foreach team member to run in. Additionally, effectiveness in leadership is creating lines of communication and feedback to stay current with all your team members and it is elevating others so they might succeed. This might result in a diminished amount of credit to the leader, but it is setting the team up for success in the end.
Optimizing the talent around you is not an overnight process but it is a worthwhile endeavor for those who do the work of leadership and want to invest in those around them. Lead well and optimize the talent around you!