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September 2008 - Advisor's Corner: Building a Talent-Based Culture


The Key to Retention: Build a Talent-Based Culture

by Josh Berry, Chair of Client Integration at Talent Plus

While the media spins a future “War for Talent”, the battle for many employers, including domestic employers, has already begun.  Like corporations, households in which team members are cast in roles that leverage their natural talents and allow them to work alongside others who feel uniquely fit to their positions create a culture that can attract and retain workforces into the future.  Beyond compensation, titles, and brands, it is an attractive culture that lays the foundation for retaining talent. 

Selecting and Building Attractive Cultures
To build a high performance culture, domestic employers need to first and foremost have a thorough understanding of themselves and their service expectations before bringing others onto their team.  They need to make these priorities, expectations, and cultural underpinnings known so everyone understands how important it is to select people who will fit and perform at their best.  Talent begets talent.  Top down, building an organization where everyone is focused on the selection, investment and development of talented individuals will reinforce the desired culture and drive retention.

Says Kimberly Rath, President and Managing Director of Talent Plus, a company whose tools and methods are used globally to select top talent and build high performance cultures, “On the whole, people are looking to be significant, apply themselves in a position where they feel their talents are best utilized, and work amidst a team and culture that are a fit for them.  While benefits are important, most employees don’t leave because of salary and benefits – they leave because their talents aren’t utilized or they are not managed well.” 

Utilizing a series of validated interviews within Talent Plus’ product line, individuals can be selected based upon talent and fit for a particular position.  “We believe talent is the only selection criteria that won’t change.  You can go out and gain more experience, you can receive more education, you can acquire more training and learn new skills – but you can’t change the things you are naturally able to do.  These questions show no bias for age, creed, ethnicity or gender and look strictly at one’s talent.” 
Talent is defined as one’s natural ability not acquired through effort that provides intrinsic satisfaction, results in spontaneous behavior and can be cultivated to achieve near perfect performance. “Training refines talent; it does not create it.”  This selection process is based on aptitude assessment tools — instruments that unveil a candidate’s potential to perform in a position and organization in which they may have never worked before.

From there, employers need to look at the outcome of the selection tool and determine if that individual is a fit for their team, their management style, their culture, the required knowledge and skills for the position, and the schedule availability and compensation requirements.   If you have a great understanding of the roles you are trying to fill and a validated selection tool that can match potential hires to both your culture and the particular position – it’s a win-win situation.

Investing in Talent
While selection is key, the investment layered upon it is also critical.   Based upon the knowledge of an employee's talent, specific recommendations can be made to bring out their best, including ongoing development and recognition.  Investment also includes the selection of a talented manager capable of drawing the best from each person on the team.

For domestic employers, this can raise a particularly poignant question, since often a principal of the home assumes the management of the staff as one of his or her secondary responsibilities.  If this is not your strength or not something you enjoy, you may want to consider investing in a new manager.

Bringing It All Together
With top talent already in short supply, forward-looking employers know they have to retain the best.  “We say select hard so you can manage easy.  If your selection process is one that can find the best people – their talents match the position – that is the best start.  But, it’s not enough to simply hire for talent and fit.  You have to invest in that person so there is growth.  Talented people naturally want to grow.  For example, while seemingly small, people want to be called by the name they like to be called.  Moreover, they want to be part of a culture they perceive cares about them, rewards and recognizes them and helps them in their path to the future.” 

Based on documented performance outcomes of many Talent Plus clients, when talented people are cast in the right position and are continuously developed over the long term, they achieve peak performance and thrive. Selecting the right individuals and investing in them hardwires an organization’s future. 

Talent Plus has clients in varied industries, many of whom are luxury, premier brands like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Estee Lauder Brands and Salvatore Ferragamo. In their 17-year working relationship with The Ritz-Carlton, the premier hotelier has grown utilizing The Science of Talent ®, selecting top-performing ladies and gentlemen through Talent Plus’ Quality Selection Process ®. The Ritz-Carlton’s culture is hardwired with critical drives and values identified in their best.  Continuing to select and invest in more people who are like their best and to grow from within amongst these individuals has provided them with a foundation that has allowed them to grow exponentially.  A guest traveling from one property to the next feels that unique care for guests, and in anticipating expressed and unexpressed wants and creating personal, memorable experiences. This hardwiring allows them to provide a guest experience that has become part of their brand promise and the foundation of their value proposition. 

This specificity has enabled Talent Plus clients to make investment decisions regarding succession planning, furthering development and growth. Through accurate selection, education, Collaborative Coaching ® and leadership development, consistent winning teams have been created from the front-line to leadership.  Today, this expertise is made available to fine households nationwide through our partnership with The Lindquist Group.

Focusing on Talents
Dr. William Hall, father of the structured interview and co-founder of Talent Plus, said, “I give you strength identification glasses.” When individuals view the world from this strength development  perspective of recognizing the talents in others and investing in the development and future of that individual, lives are positively changed and cultures are created where individuals want to join and work – furthering development of bench strength into the future.



About Josh Berry, Chair of Client Integration, Talent Plus
Josh Berry began his journey with Talent Plus in 2003 and has since worked to integrate Talent Plus concepts with client partners throughout the world. Berry partners with clients to help them understand the philosophies of strength development and The Science of Talent ®. Through his relationships with key Talent Plus clients, he has become a trusted advisor in the areas of human capital selection and development, strategic talent management planning and organizational behavior to top leaders across industries.  Fluent in Spanish, Berry leads Talent Plus integration with clients across North, Central and South America, as well as Spain.

About Talent Plus
Since 1989, Talent Plus has utilized scientific studies of success to identify talent and help clients build Talent-Based Organizations (TBO®) through The Science of Talent®. The common traits their clients share are a commitment to being the best in their field and the value placed on talent.  Their research, selection instruments and supportive technology help clients repeatedly recruit, select, recognize and retain talent, with exponential returns on investment. Today, they are the premier global human resources consulting firm with over 200 world-class, growth-oriented clients. The result in each is a culture in which talent is celebrated.  Simply stated, (Talent + Fit) x Investment = Growth® . Talent Plus is located at One Talent Plus Way, Lincoln, NE  68506, 402-489-2000, 1-800-VARSITY,

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