This is an article that I could not wait but to blog about. The article discusses bad management practices on top talents and over-performers in today’s organizations. Mr. Smith article is very insightful and it does reflect the general sentiments in today’s markets as well it probably touches on every potential leader or top talent. In such circumstances of low moral due to seeing workmates and colleagues being made redundant, to stressed targets, and low revenues; executives have to hold their forces firmly; make everyone alert and excited, smart and ready to jump and catch the next business opportunity, or create the next innovative product or service. Even more, you need your top managers and talent to energize and ignite the forces; to motivate your people at various locations. It’s absolutely ridiculous to divert attention or dilute concentration and forces efforts from the main objectives and  business targets.

Times of crisis in business are synonymous to times of wars. An army colonel thinks, perceives, plans, and acts thoroughly and firmly, and leads forces in organized, structured, and focused manner. I doubt any army would win any war any time if no concentration exists from its leadership and majority of its forces.

The five mistakes managers commit on their top talents are catastrophic and most probably irreversible. These take different shapes and ways, and Mr.Smith summarized these into five aspects:

  1. Ignoring the view from the pipeline
  2. Treating all high potentials the same
  3. Leaving high-potentials on their own
  4. Not using high-potentials to develop others
  5. Being unclear about high-potential status

Diversification in views is richness. Once you hear new views, they give you new perspectives and dimensions to think of. Your top talents are your true source of information; innovative and real information. These could be your people on field, in a factory, market or with your customers. Listen effectively to them and understand their views, no matter how bitter the views could be to you or your management style.

You can not treat your people all the same. I blogged before on the value of money and the actual implementation of Maslow Pyramid in motivation. Understand the ‘Who’ first so you can apply the ‘What’ that truly works and matters!

High potentials are great assets to your organization. Once you set their goals, show them the path, give them the tools they need to excel, and let them drive and lead, you would effectively get remarkable outcome. Their passion will ignite others, will motivate others and will get you results. Just preserve their values and respect who they are. Understand why they do what they do, and you will be surprised of the level of their delivery, excellence and achievement.

I urge you to go thru Mr.Smith article at Wall Street Journal, just follow this link, while I provide the following snapshot. Thanks to graur razvan ionut and for the nice illustration used in this blog:

“With today’s stale job market limiting employees’ mobility, executives have a unique opportunity to boost the motivation and productivity of their top talent without spending lots of money. Unfortunately, many companies are missing the mark – especially when it comes to managing their emerging leaders, or “high potentials.” Here are the five biggest mistakes companies are making with high-potential talent:

1. Ignoring the view from the pipeline. This is the first big mistake – and it fuels the others. Talent managers and executives tend to discuss the leadership pipeline as if it is theirs to define and control. But talented people inside the leadership pipeline bring their perspectives and experiences to the process. Do you know what they think? Have you asked what they want? Are expectations on both sides understood? Is your relationship with your talent transactional or a mutual and reciprocal relationship?

High-potential talent can always go somewhere else. Center for Creative Leadership research shows that even though 95 percent of high potentials say they are committed to their organizations, 21 percent are still actively looking for another job. In a down economy, they are weighing trade-offs. On the plus side: staying in their current role means greater responsibility, highly visible assignments, good money in a recession. On the negative side: brutal hours, no support from senior team, uncertainty as to what’s next. If you could move “senior team support” to the pro column, for example, you’ve boosted your chances of retaining a valued employee.

2. Treating all high potentials the same. If you aren’t considering the view from the pipeline, chances are you have a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with top talent. High potentials expect (and usually get) greater visibility and access to senior managers, special assignments and training, and greater responsibility. But they also want some say in how these perks and assignments play out. If relocating every few years is the primary way for high potentials to increase their value, you automatically lose when a manager needs to stay put for a spouse’s career or family commitments. Don’t wait to find this out during an exit interview. Have “stay conversations” with your top talent before it’s too late.”


Mouaz Aref Al-Zayyat

The Five Mistakes You’re Making With Top Talent: Perspective
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