As promised, and without apology, another bakery metaphor – this time, scones as a metaphor for Talent Management.
Stay with me ☺
Talent Management is really one of THE core skills (or is it an ‘art’?) of great leaders.
Ever seen a great leader without a host great people around them?
Ever heard the story of a great leader, without someone effusively explaining the impact they had on them personally?
The really great leaders create a space for others to be successful, and we flock to it. They don’t even need to talk about leadership or ‘their journey, because their leadership story is more beautifully told by others.
So, what has that got to do with scones?
As it turns out, quite a lot.
You see we too often talk about Talent Management as ‘picking winners’, but Talent Management is not about individuals, or picking one or two perfect successors. It’s about getting the whole batch right.
Let’s talk about great scones.
Great scone dough is pliable and stretchy (if you need a great recipe, we’ve added a link at the bottom, and please note – No lemonade needed!). It takes time and great ingredients, sure, but the ingredients are all pretty basic.
You knead and knead, (taking time, without cutting corners), and then roll it out.
You cut it, one careful circle at a time, with as many circles as possible right to the corners of the dough.
Then you re-knead the offcuts, and roll again. In fact, a great baker will have almost no offcuts at all. No waste.
They’re loaded onto the tray, altogether. In fact, how close they are to each other, will ensure they hold shape, cook well as a whole batch. No scone is exactly the same as another, but by staying close, they support each other to grow tall.
Then, you bake for the right amount of time.
Not rushed and pulled out early, then needing to be covered in jam to make the gooiness less visible.
Not forgotten about in the oven, and pulled out all dry and hard. If they’re left too long, nothing can be done.
And finally, out on the plate, with each one lovingly adorned with jam and cream.
So, back to Talent.
Just imagine your whole team is normal good people, working hard. Not flashy or full of lemonade. Just good people.
Too often, to manage talent, we ‘pick one’ – ‘pick a winner’ – and we back them with everything we have. We give them all the opportunities. All the profile.
We forget about the whole team, and over focus on just that one, or two, that we are SO sure about.
The average team is close enough to ten people (in specialist teams, maybe five or six, in a sales team, around 20). So, if you pick out one or two, you’ve left 80%, or even 90%, of your team, sort of under-invested in, and under-cared-about.
That decision will hurt you, and it will hurt your organisation.
Great leaders know that the whole team matters, and you can get so much more done if every single person feels valued, and appreciated and invested in, and developing and growing, with opportunities and possibilities.
What’s more, great leaders, get that every person, not just the leader, is impacting each other. Supporting each other to grow tall. Holding each other up.
Each one is given their share of the development, or the opportunities, of the experiences that matter. They all have the right to dream and to be their best.
And finally, each one is presented, with all their unique individuality, individually. Positioned well. Served up to the organisation, at their best.
Great leaders create whole batches of great talent.
Talk to a leader who’s created lots of great people around them, and you’ll find huge pride in every person on their team. They’ll know lots about them – will have heard and appreciated their story – and be personally invested in every person. They will have coached them one-on-one – patiently spent the right amount of time – and thought carefully about how to get them to their best contribution, and not left them waiting around to grow stale and cynical. Constantly looking for growth, and stretch, at exactly the right pace, for every single person.
And most importantly, they’ll rarely take credit. There will be no “I’m great at picking winners” speeches, but more about the philosophy of creating a great team, about nurturing people to be their best, and creating a great environment where others can thrive, and a pride in each person who grew tall.
So, without sounding a little ‘homely’, creating great talent is all about taking the raw ingredients, and giving every single person, all the opportunities you can possible find for them all to be great – together, and as individuals.
Quite a lot like a perfect batch of scones.