Giving talent a shot

by 06 Feb 2007

By Melissa Yen

“You can succeed in anything, so long as you believe in yourself.” I hate that phrase – if only it were that simple. It’s a philosophy that has been echoed far too much throughout my life and everyone else’s I’m sure. I have always been of the belief that there is more to success than simply believing you have talent; after all, what good is talent that isn’t recognised or managed properly?

However, my opinions on this somewhat changed as a result of my being an avid tennis fan. Witnessing the outstanding efforts of Serena Williams in demolishing Maria Sharapova in a mere 63 minutes at the Australian Open grand final sparked a realisation in me that talent in people is something that, far too often, is overlooked. Entering the tournament, Williams encompassed none of the desired characteristics of a hopeful grand slam winner. With a world ranking of 81, as well as a swirl of questions surrounding her weight and fitness, it occurred to me that this was one star on the rise who was not recognised but a written-off.

There had to be something else at play here, and that is, conquering adversity. It was obvious that Williams believed in herself and despite the criticism she received, she put her talent to the test and won. Not once must she have questioned her capability in taking out the Open.

But not everyone in life, or business for that matter, is as blessed as Williams. Despite being in the midst of a skills shortage and the continuing struggle for women to make it to senior level positions, it is easy to wonder how many job candidates and employees face a similar adversity to that of Williams.

Talent management has become central to the HR function, as Angus Kidman’s feature on page 12 highlights. The challenge for HR in managing talent lies in the fact that talent is not always easy to recognise. More than ever, HR needs to look for the innovation and creativity within people that can help them in reaching their optimum talent. While these people may not always appear as star performers, it is ultimately up to HR to take a strategic approach in assessing employee performance and skill levels.

But it is a two-way path. The question is: to what extent should we rely on HR as the ‘talent’ and ‘people’managers of business in bringing our capabilities to the fore? Is there a confidence that can only lie within that will help HR help its employees succeed?