I read a really interesting piece referencing work by Fariborz Ghadar, director of Penn State’s Center for Global Business Studies. He makes the case for sourcing and nurturing talent from different talent pools. From broadening outreach efforts and relationship to find top candidates across all dimensions of diversity, to training for managers in inclusiveness and objectivity to ensure they expose new talent to a full array of experience and opportunities, Ghadar argues that companies that fail to leverage and nurture diversity in their employee base: “will find themselves poaching talent to offset scarcities in the quantity and quality of talent in their narrow pipelines.”
Many of us often pride themselves on our ability to think outside the box.
But does this extend to how we think about talent within our workforce? When we make assessments about who is suitable for a role, do we consider the full array of functions where talented people with transferable skills could bring value and difference to our teams, regardless of whether they might take a little longer to come up to speed? Or do we simply look for people who are an easy fit?
Or to put in another way: when you make decisions or assessments of others, are you aware of your biases or of the filters you might be applying? And do you ever challenge them?
To put it simply, continuing to do the same thing with the same people might well see us miss out on new and different results.
I caught myself applying filters in my own assessment of two colleagues recently. The first colleague is a more obvious fit in their role, and also someone I get on with easily. The second person has a more unusual profile and I find I need to work harder to understand their point of view and collaborate. Both colleagues had missed a deadline through no fault of their own and called me to explain. I’m sorry to say that whilst I was light-hearted and understanding with the first person, I found myself being hesitant and judgmental with the second. It’s easy to do, and all too human, but I wondered afterwards about the effect I’d had on this person, and about how I might have handled that situation more inclusively.
It’s a small example, but it carries a world of implications in terms of how we make judgments in performance reviews, or how we choose people to make up strategic teams. If we really want to nurture talent and move, as a company, to the next level, how much do our biases and preconceptions stand in our way?
If you’ve been following my posts, you might well have read my post on having a victim or a player mentality. Each person also has the responsibility to manage their own career trajectory – the onus is on us as individuals to put ourselves forward for new challenges too. Research shows that men are better at this than women: often men will apply for a role where they know they might only be able to do about 50 percent of what is required, whereas women will typically only raise their hand if they are sure they can do 90 percent. If we want to drive change, we also need to be brave enough, at a personal level, to rise to the challenge.
So, whether it is taking a risk on someone outside the mould, or pushing ourselves to try something new or beyond our comfort zone, if we really want to leverage diversity, we all need to take a chance on talent.