The Dangers of Hidden Talent – New CIO Series

TalentThe New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges.

Do you know the full capabilities of your team?

Sure…you know what their resume’s said.  You think you know their backgrounds and their experience…but do you really know your team?

Do you have a developer who, in their free time, is extremely active in the blogosphere and the social media world?  Do you have a project manager who really wants to make a lateral move into service management?

Do you really know your team?  If you don’t, you may be leaving a lot of talent, skills and passion on the table.

Dangers of Hidden Talent

Leaving talent untapped is unforgivable to me and should be unacceptable to you. We live in a world where we’re expected to do more with less and rely more heavily on people’s knowledge & skills to make our businesses work.

Knowing this is the case, why do we hire a person, train them (do you train your people?) and then forget about them?  Why do we ignore the idea of talent management and human capital? Read more of my thoughts on those topics here and here and if you’re looking for a great book on Talent & Competitive Advantage, check out Talent : Making People Your Competitive Advantage (amazon affiliate link) and/or Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty (amazon affiliate link).  Both of those books are excellent.

Do you have regular meetings with your team?  Do you talk about their careers?  Do you know that your star programmer is a widely read blogger?  Can you use the talent and passion of that programmer to more than just develop the next application?

Hidden talent doesn’t just sit within your front-line teams.  Did you know that your Director of Technical Support is working on her Masters of Fine Art in Creative Writing?  Are there things she can do to provide more value to the organization than just leading the service desk?

Hidden talent is hidden profit, hidden revenue and hidden advantage.  Hidden talent can also be the death of your team if it isn’t uncovered.

Uncovering Hidden Talent

Do you know what drives each of your team members? What really gets them excited in the morning?  I’d bet there are a few people on your team that aren’t that happy in their current role and who are looking for something else to do.  Rather than lose them to another company, why not help them find something more interesting within your team and/or organization?

What can you do to help them become happier and more engaged? Could you get your programmer / blogger to work on more projects where he can use his writing skills?  What could your Tech Support Director provide to the organization now that you know she’s extremely interested in creative writing?

Of course you can’t make everyone 100% happy all the time.  People still have jobs to do…but if you take some time to talk with your team about the career ambitions and do what you can to help them reach their goals, you’ll be amazed at the response you’ll receive from them.

What can you do to uncover hidden talent?  Simple…talk to your team.  I mean really talk.  Try to understand their aspirations and what drives them.  Look for their hidden passions & skills.  Work with your team to uncover the hidden talents and you’ll see new vigor from your team.

Finding the Talent – A New CIO skill

So…time to add one more skillset to The New CIO’s job requirements…that of Talent Miner.  Of course, this role can be fulfilled by any member of the IT staff (and anyone else in the organization), but as the top dog in IT you’ve got to lead people in this area.

The New CIO needs to get things done with the resources given to them…but those resources might be able to provide  more value than originally thought…if you look for the hidden talent. “Doing more with less” is the mantra these days…find those folks on your team who are passionate about something and find ways to let them bring that passion to their job.

Uncover the hidden talent within your team/organization and watch the growth that occurs.  Fail to uncover that talent and you’ll fail to reach the potential of your people and your team.

Join me next week for another article in The New CIO series.

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