Talent is not a Panacea!!

A couple of days back I was watching the prize distribution ceremony of an International Cricket match and something that Mr.Saurav Ganguly, Former Indian Cricket captain, said caught my attention. He was referring to Sachin Tendulkar and saying that ‘It doesn’t matter if you have talent, what is important is what you do with it’.

Could there be a bitter but better truth on this? How many times a day we think and frown upon people whom we think are less talented than us, yet more successful! How often we come across that coworker or family member who is frustrated and depressed about someone else grabbing up all promotions and lime lights. Have you not seen at least one person at the dusk of his/her life sharing thoughts about how meaningless life has been for them, seeing so many less deserving people having better lives? Well, I encounter these situations a lot and Ganguly’s words were an eye opener for me.

It won’t help us if we think that we are talented and that talent would take us to places. Talent sure is an advantage, but that does not guarantee success. Winston Churchill once said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” Talent is the present state and potential refers to future. One common mistake done by people who have talent is to get carried away by the fact that they have talent and be blind-sighted about what is required to achieve success. They may feel special about themselves for having the talent and would undermine every other aspect of success. By the time they realize this, it would be late and at that point it becomes tough to start all over again. You may know many people who have been highly successful at an early stage of life but faded off to the past, unable to carry on their early accomplishments. It’s not because that they don’t have talent, but may be because they did not do the needful to enhance their talent and achieve their full potential. The journey from As Is to To Be is where most of us lose.

Though in a slightly different way, this is applicable to organizations too. Organizations hire the best talent, but many a times would not know what to do with them and how to maximize their potential for the benefit of the organization. A very classic example of this is the campus placements conducted by the top most IT companies of India every year in engineering colleges across the country. The top 3 IT companies always fight to get the first slot in campuses to hire the crème layer. Sometimes the hiring number from a single college can be as huge as 400-500.Being the first companies on campus, this 500 would generally include the best talents too. The biggest challenge for these companies is to place them in the right role. Mostly what happens is the random assignment of new recruits to roles, post training, which may not be the right fit for the candidates. I have come across real situations where the new hires were given 2 months of training in C++ and placing them in Mainframe development and trainees kept on bench for a year etc. The result as we know is that most of them leave the company in the first year of job itself either for better job options or for higher studies as is the trend.

Another case is when organizations do have the best talent, but not the best results as expected. Again it all boils down to how the talent is being used, right from placing the right employee at the right role, providing them with opportunities to learn and grow ,motivating them with both extrinsic and intrinsic factors, creating a conducive environment where innovation and risk taking are encouraged and so on. If not for the right ingredients, talent will also get rusted. Even the best employee will not be able to give you the desired results. A very important factor to ponder upon is whether you really know and understand the talent and potential of your employees. Otherwise it is an injustice to both the employees and the company. Organizations and especially its managers should be smart enough not only to hire the right talent, but to use it in the right way too.

So are you doing justice to your own talent and those of your organization ?


The Ardent HR




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