Who Owns Your Company Talent?

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. It’s a popular cliché I’ve seen tossed around a lot.  And I get the premise – strong cultures can make or break your organizational strategy.  It’s true. But where does culture start? Well, Steve Boese recently wrote a post titled, “If culture eats strategy, then what eats culture?” answering that exact question.

Without giving Steve’s post away, it got me thinking about talent.  And, who “owns” talent in a company: is it the organization or the manager?

Or maybe it’s neither. 

Could it be that the individual employee “owns” their talent?

Organizations merely rent or lease the talent of their employees.  They do that via compensation and benefits.  Employees bring their talents and, in exchange, they get paid and receive benefits.  Since the employee’s talent is the driver…the employee “owns” what the company wants.

Here’s another way to think of it.  As soon as an employee makes the decision to leave (either genuinely or just mentally), the organization ceases to have that talent.  The challenge for companies is to make sure that employees bring all of their talents to work every day.  Because the last thing a company wants is to pay for talent they aren’t getting.

Enter the department manager.  Managers are supposed to help employees recognize their talents, direct the use of their talents, and encourage employees to develop existing talents and/or seek additional talents.  The idea being that managers create the environment for employees to do what Maslow calls self-actualizing.  I call it doing the things that make you want to get up and go to work each day.

This is the essence of employee engagement.  Employees who understand how their talents fit into the overall goals of the organization and are able to self-actualize are more likely to bring all of their talents to work and strive to have greater talents…which, hopefully, the company can use to make itself better.

Let us know your thoughts on this.  I still can’t help but think the first step in this logic is talent.  Which means the employee “owns” talent, not the company and not the manager.  And how, when and to what extent talent is used is based upon the way an employee interacts with their manager and the company.

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