B+P Insights: Talents – driver for the future of your business


“Talent” – a substance of three key elements

The term talent is today used with related meanings, namely, whether the special individual, innate endowment, whether they be artistic, intellectual or sporting. It could be the talent to play an instrument, understanding mathematics, lead an organization or developing technology. From the media we are familiar with from time to time that there will be held the so-called talent contests in which talent hunters or-”Scouts”-can find new endowments.

The equivalent of “events” is used by the business world, where one presents his company at the universities and colleges in order to attract talents, or the best talents, among the students. Interesting enough is that the role here is often the opposite in terms of media talent contests-it is the talents (the students) who has ”control” and can usually choose from several companies.

We know that the competition among the companies in order to attract the best talent is very high and require documented program for the individual’s development and future similar internship and trainee programme. However, is the talents by the individual well enough taken care of and offered interesting development? Results from several surveys among the talent shows, unfortunately, that the follow-up and development after a period of time is decreasing and to some extent been absent. The companies thus stands in danger of losing both the talent and reputation. And investment in time and money, and lost image, can be significant both in the short and long term.

What is a talent? It is claimed that talent is the term used for the innate endowments, and can be defined as the individual’s potential to reach as far as possible within an activity based on the individual`s abilities in the short and long term.

In other words, is not a talent, as many believe, only to be found among young people. The talent is constant and nd added by skills or qualifications through work and life experience. One increases thus own value significantly the older one is and represents at the same time creating value for their employer and the society. How is this value taken care of in the best possible way? and who is responsible?

As talent with good skills, one can not deny its own responsibility for development. But internally within an organization the management and HR have a special responsibility for the benefit of employees and the company. In most companies ‘ and organizations ‘ internal and external “advertising” it says clearly that: “Our biggest strength is our people.” Will this be followed well enough from words to action?

Richard Bransson (Virgin) has the most significant of their companies in the field of human-driven industries. He has said, and has been known to live up to their statements: “Success in business is all about people, people, people. Whatever industry a company is in, its employees are its biggest competitive advantage “. Some companies issue fines if this is violated.

Attracting, developing, retaining and promoting employees are the core responsibilities of the human resources function. However, as the HR department plays a more strategic role in business goals and strategy, the responsibilities become more analytical, involved and specialized. As a result of the above, suggests surveys  that employees to an even greater extent than in the past will have to attend to and take control of their own development and career plan. We are aware of the fact that this leads to what we can denote as “passive job-seekers”.

What are the characteristics of the passive job seekers? Of 85% full-time employees passive job-seekers in Norway, are  73% basically satisfied with the work content, but they are all willing to change the place of work if a new “correct” position turns up. In the same survey shows the job market that 16% are active job seekers-20% non jobseekers while the entire 64% are passive job seekers. The last category is thus removable to the new company and the new position.

A few years back, I held a lecture on recruitment and concern by employees of a Norwegian global company, that by their own HR resources encompassed all the ”talen scouting” and recruiting itself. They were of the opinion that the cost of the external advisors (Executive Search and organization advisors) was too high, and have not ensured that the “right candidate” would satisfy neither the trial period or be employed over the desired time. However, was this caused by internal or external conditions, or a combination? An internal audit revealed, however, that the own resources and methods of recruitment were not good enough quality assured and rooted in visions and goals. In addition, the company’s turnover was still too high.

Large initial cost and low security for the “long term” employment by the use of external recruitment advisors became a topic after my lecture. Metaphorically, I was tempted to ask what procedures the company had when they purchase personal IT equipment. It was stated that ,in addition to the internal IT department,they used an external consultancy . “The price of the equipment and consultancy, was in principle subordinate when the company was dependent on timely hardware and software, and could not be seen in the context of recruitment and to retaining employees.” The statement shocked me. What helps to have the right IT equipment if you don’t have the right people or the talents over the time to use or operate the equipment and extra costs by repeating training caused by high turnover?

By Knut Skare, Partner

Birn+Partners Norway