Talent Wins, the book by Dominic Barton, McKinsey&Company’s Managing Partner, suggests that as few as 2% of your workforce create the most value in your business. And those people are not necessarily in the top-tier of your organisation chart. So, do you know who they are?
Those crucial people in pivotal roles can be the difference between success and failure. But they are often overlooked because they are in less-visible roles than others, who may not be so critical to your business.
How much attention do you give to the buyer who is negotiating great margins every day, the project manager who quietly resolves issues and saves severe penalties, or the account manager who looks after your most profitable client?
In our recruitment work, we meet many such people who complain that they are taken for granted, that their contribution is not recognised by their employers. And our experience in assessing potential in organisations, shows that it the most talented people in organisations are often “hidden” and not on the radar of the most senior executives in the business.
Is it true that only 2% drive value?
I’m not convinced that it is only 2% of staff that drive value in a business. I’m more inclined to McGregor’s Theory Y school of management than his Theory X – that most people come to work to do a good job. As such, most people have something to contribute.
Think of the US TV show Undercover Boss, where a CEO goes incognito to work at the sharp end of their business. Putting aside the sentimental stories that they miraculously happen upon, the common narrative here is that they uncover people who are adding great value to the organisation but not receiving credit or recognition or have the ability to influence because of their position.
We all like to think that we give everyone in our business equal opportunity, that we know who our rising stars are and that we recognise and reward those that make the biggest contribution. But how do you know that you’re not missing out and are you sure you know which are making the greatest difference to your bottom line?
How do you find out who can add value?
Most organisations use traditional competency frameworks to identify and nurture their top talent. But there is a growing recognition that this is a narrow-minded view and that this approach does not suit all styles, and so potential is overlooked.
Some companies treat staff development as a game of roulette, with a variety of strategies in place. Some spread their budget thinly, investing (or gambling) with the same training and development on many staff – a few might provide a return, but most won’t. Others prefer to stake most of their budget on one or two high performers. When it works, the return can be significant, but there’s, at best, an evens chance of the investment being sunk.
A broader view of an individual’s attitudes, behaviours and drivers is adopted by successful, leading companies. A comprehensive assessment of potential, attitude, aptitude, motivations and drivers, using data from multiple sources including psychometrics and 360° interviews, not just the view of the individual’s line manager, provides tangible data that informs good decisions about people.
Our bespoke assessment processes can help you identify the people in your business or organisation. And coupled with our bespoke coaching and development programmes, those people can add great value, regardless of their current role or position in the organisation.
So do you agree with the book’s author? Do only 2% drive value in most businesses, or can everyone make a contribution?