High Tide: Evolutionary Cultural Change

Most organizations that I’ve consulted with or have worked for primarily focus their talent management efforts on a small cadre of individuals. These folks are commonly known as “high potentials” within the organization. The field of leadership development and talent management has been explicit in its focus of narrowing efforts toward the few and the mighty.

It makes sense in a world of limited resources, reach and scope, but things are changing. Technology and new techniques have disrupted the standard norms and allowed to expand our focus and our attention to meet the needs of the masses. Only, we haven’t done so yet, not most of us anyway.

Instead, we continue the traditional paradigm of learning, development and selection. We keep moving forward with deference to the norms and values of the past, we’ve been reluctant to rock the boat and to try new, innovative strategies for growing our people. The fact remains that a high tide raises all boats … and the tide for many organizations is finally coming in.

Imagine a world where we don’t let good performers slip through the cracks, a world where we focus on raising the tide of the entire workforce, and a world where good performance becomes great. Imagine if you will, a workforce that’s engaged and committed to getting things done, because they know in turn, the organization shows them the same commitment.

The option is available to us. We can start thinking more broadly about how to develop people and build better work forces. Technology gives us a scale that we’ve never had before. New management theories and a better understanding of how people work and what makes them tick enable us to offer smarter and timelier opportunities to our employees.

These opportunities should be about both targeting individual needs and opportunities that offer scale across the breadth of your organization. The technologies have evolved in a way that allow us to target and scale simultaneously.

Focusing our efforts on a narrow few doesn’t raise the tide for the entire organization, it ignores the masses, the core of your labor force and relies too heavily on a trickle down approach to management.

We need to start thinking more holistically about developing our people, the world is changing, and we should too. It’s time we start building and developing for our high performers, not just our high potentials.

As leaders, let’s make it our resolution to raise the tide for everyone in 2014!

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