Imagine you managed to hire the best possible team you could ever dream of. You have access to the best analysts, programmers, marketing people, and more. Their CVs and work experience are exemplary, and even though they are costly, the expected results should put you among the top best-performing businesses in your niche.

Except this doesn’t happen. In fact, the work is far from the expectations and things get dragged behind.

What happened in this scenario?

A good team leader will tell you that you skipped one important step in the process of turning talent into business growth. You didn’t take care of talent activation.

What exactly is talent activation?

It is the process of getting the talent you just acquired (employees) and turning it into productivity and business growth. The process takes the potential (aka the talent) a person brings into the company and turns it into meaningful and effective contribution.

Quick note: Talent is defined as any recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior. As such, a person’s main talent can be the power of staying focused, another person could be achievement-oriented or competitive, another could be more empathetic, and so on. Following this rule, it’s easy to understand that everyone has a set of talents.

The job of a team leader/business manager is to work with each person’s set of talents in order to create a cohesive team that delivers results and growth. Furthermore, the process works best if it is based on trust, recognition, insight, and is challenging for each employee.

4 Key aspects of talent activation

Now that you understand the concept, let’s have a look at some of the key elements required to activate your team’s collective set of talents.

  1. Personality assessment

    Each individual is unique. This is one of the first lessons you learn when you work in (or prepare to work in) HR. So, to understand how their mind works, how they think and feel, and how to help them activate their talents, you need to first understand their personality.

    However, this is a sensitive topic that can backfire if you don’t understand that the results are not 100% accurate. Because you are not dealing with empirical data, you need to know how to interpret each assessment based on a series of factors.

    Furthermore, it’s important to know how to introduce the idea of personality assessments to members of your team. If not handled with care, people may think that their jobs are depending on the results, which will completely change the outcome.

    So, to make sure everyone is prepared for this, why not introduce the idea in the job offer letter? This gives the future employee a chance to express their concerns, ask questions, and even decide if they are up for it.

  2. Competency models

    This is yet another tool designed for team leaders in their relationship with the team. Competency models define the summation of competencies required for a specific position in the company. They are adapted to the work setting, industry, environment and help in finding the best candidates for the job.

    But these tools are just as useful in talent activation because they give the team leader a list with the employee’s set of talents. This way, the leader knows where they need to work and how to address each step of the formation process.

  3. Long-term learning process

    Learning never stops. This is even truer in today’s dynamic business environment when technologies can shift in the timeframe of several months.

    As such, talent activation also has a side of long-term learning where each member of the team is guided towards a specific path of development. This means that, even though the people you hire come with experience and well-developed skills, you will still have to help them grow.

    This means that the organization should support a long-term learning strategy that involves all the employees from managers to newcomers.

  4. Leadership development courses

    In direct correlation to the point mentioned above, leadership development courses make sure team leaders are up to date with the latest and most effective growth strategies. This way, the people leading the business are prepared to guide the talent on a path of success and mutual understanding.


    Read more: Why leadership development matters


Are you doing talent activation right?

At the end of the day, talent activation doesn’t happen in a rigid pattern. The situation is different from one team to another so there are different tools and strategies one can apply.

Still, how can you tell if what you’re doing, as an organization, is going well?

First, you need to keep in mind that talent activation happens on a team, between the leader and its members. So, unless the tools you offer are designed to be used by the team leader in a voluntary manner, first attempts at talent activation die at implementation.

Second, it’s important to understand that employee engagement surveys, competency models, and other tools used to create talent activation, are designed for the ideal employee and team. This means you have to adapt each of these tools, so they’ll work with real people, time, situations, and goals.

Finally, for your efforts to be fruitful, it’s important to make sure that all the tools are integrated and talking to each other. You shouldn’t expect the team leader to do the integration efforts for you.

So, if all these criteria are met and you know the tools used are well-designed and effective, you are on the right path and results should be visible soon.

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