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  • Zarmina Penner

Talent counts!

Talents (but not only talents) make people. People make teams, teams make companies, and companies the economy. Natural talents are the starting point, even before learned skills and competencies. Why? Because you can always rely on talent, learned skills can have limits, and they are not necessarily developed further in a self-motivated manner. For example, if I have the talent for coordination and thus also a primary interest in it, maybe even passion for it, I constantly try to find tools and routines that support coordination. Simply because it's fun; otherwise, I may only do the bare minimum. Talent ensures that tasks completion is faster and undertaken with more pleasure, higher quality, and more sustainably. Talent gives the team a more stable basis. You can always rely on it. We usually describe talent in broad terms: a knack for organizing or coordinating or empathy for people, a feeling for situations and processes, or a deep interest in a specific topic, e.g., everything virtual. Talents come naturally, and measuring them is difficult. There are no generic training or certificates for it. Testimonials from previous employers may give some insight, but testimonials don't necessarily correspond with reality. In short: We place not enough value on the assessment of talents and on talents themselves. If teams have the right talents, the goal is clear, and the team leader is talented and capable, then the team will function well, guaranteed. In addition to not having enough talent focus, there is another obstacle in the way: I am talking about taking responsibility. If no one takes responsibility for finding and using talent, nothing will change. There is no such thing as half responsibility. It either exists entirely, or it doesn't exist at all. I very often hear managers complaining about their team members. It still surprises me every time. Who is the recipient of this complaint? Without a doubt, the manager himself is fully responsible for any team situation; no question about that. Nevertheless, I take the complaint seriously because it is a call for support. We, as leaders, don't get enough training and support with regard to understanding and resolving people problems.

(By the way, all problems in organizations are in essence people problems.) Surely, nobody wants to be responsible for things that don't work. However, managers have not only rights but also duties. You can, of course, complain, but it makes issues more prominent than they should be. The first task of leadership is to resolve such concerns. Complaining is also a bad habit that can quickly catch on because managers are also role models. What can you do as a manager in a similar situation? Consider these five steps: 1) Take full responsibility for anything that doesn't work in your team: for the issues and the design and implementation of solutions. Don't allow yourself to delegate this core responsibility. Ask yourself: What did I do or not do that has led to this situation? 2) Check your talents. Ask yourself: Do I enjoy leadership and coaching and leading people? 3) Check carefully whether the mandate and the goals are clear to the team, and whether all team members are clear about their respective work mandates. (Repeat the following step 4 for each team member, one by one.) 4) Now think about the person in focus: Does he seem to enjoy the task? Is he in a role that fits his talents? What do you notice about him? Then speak with the person. In a neutral stance, ask the person: What do you enjoy doing? What is easy to do? What takes too much time? You can also use the MBTI (Myers-Briggs) personality test to gather more information.

Now you have a good view of the talents and, if need be, adjust tasks and roles. (The same principle applies by the way to hiring new employees.) 5) If the team has interpersonal conflicts, you should also briefly check the persons involved from a different perspective. Ask yourself the following questions: a. Presence: Is the person present enough on-site? Is the person approachable and responding promptly? Is the person present and focused when listening and talking? b. Reliability: Are promises kept? Are tasks implemented? c. Transparency: Is the person transparent and truthful (no hidden motives or agendas)? d. Loyalty: Is the person loyal to you and others? How about personal integrity? e. Behavior: Is the person free of microaggression or apparent aggression? Is the person able to control his emotional state? Is the person upbeat? This process gives you everything you need to understand a team situation and address it with clear decisions and actions. In a nutshell: a) If you take talent as the main criterion and starting point for team design, b) if you are not afraid of taking responsibility and approaching problems purposefully and decisively and in a solution-oriented manner, then your team will have an excellent chance of functioning very well. With kind regards, Zarmina P.S.: If you know someone who would benefit from this content, please forward the newsletter. And, of course, I would be thrilled to receive your comments and suggestions! What topic should I cover next for you?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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