We are, once again, going to attempt defining something that seems almost indefinable. In our look at intuition, we know that much of our senses for it relies on gut-feelings in response to certain tangible measurements such as resumes, references, and so on. Talent, while also subjective and living in an abstract pool, can be assessed a little more clearly than intuition.
I’m sure we all have an intuitive/subjective side to what talent looks like in our field, whether it’s sales, marketing, medicine, insurance, etc. An example of this is that I got a Tony Soprano type buddy who runs a construction company who says to me often, “I just know when a guy is talented,” when it comes to his hiring process. And while that’s a sentiment we can all identify with, it’s certainly a very loose standard for identifying talent. My uncle, who runs a multimillion-dollar business, once told me that 80% of the time he made the right choice in hiring staff for HR and Management.
That seems like a pretty sweet deal right, to have that high of a success rate? And now you’re sitting there going, what’s the big deal with all this talent business then if most people can figure it out? The kicker to my rich uncle’s gut instinct is that he also told me he was wrong about the salesmen he hired about 50% of the time.
Does this mean my uncle and ‘Mr. Soprano’ don’t know what they’re doing? Absolutely not. Can they get better? Of course. What my uncle’s scenario shows me is that he knows the baseline for what good staff looks like in HR and hiring, but is a little lost when it comes to determining who has got the chops for sales. One means of quantifying talent is setting minimum benchmarks for prospects to meet.
To make a slight but relevant segue, the sports world often seems like it has a varying array of flurried talent, but in truth, they actually have one of the most consistent means of measuring talent. (Hint: it’s those benchmarks I just mentioned in the previous paragraph.)
Take the NFL for example. Every year, the NFL has their Combine in which teams can literally see how incoming players perform in a series of tests, both physical and psychological, measure their scores against previous players in previous years, and then make an informed, analytical decision on who they want to draft and if they have talent that will measure up. This is a good time to ask if your organization/leaders have any sort of system like this where you can tangibly measure someone’s level of talent or achievement.
As always, everything we’re writing here is trying to be in conversation with each other and, if we’re doing it right, furthering the conversation. Your benchmarks for talent certainly don’t have to be the same as sports organizations such as hitting certain numbers or stats, but they can look more along the lines of something like ‘fit,’ or if you’ve incorporated our assessment battery into your organization, maybe the benchmark for your sales folks could be their drive motivator and their value for competitiveness. Maybe you want your data analysts to have a high C in their DISC profile. The thing is, if you don’t have a conversation about what talent looks like for you, you’ll have no way of knowing if you’ve passed up on someone who could make a real difference at your organization.