Grooming your Companies Best and Brightest
Companies talk a lot about attracting and retaining the “best and brightest” as a means of improving their competitiveness and success, but when I ask for a description of the B&B, I get a lot of generalizations.
Top of graduating class, proven track record, natural leader, high-energy ‘can do’ attitude, results orientation. Great characteristics, all. How come so many promising workers fail to deliver?
Companies look at people with promise (those who demonstrate some or all of these characteristics) and assume that they will continue to grow and be successful. Why?
What do honors at graduation have to do with meeting the demands of the workplace? How does a proven track record in one place provide assurance that it will continue in another? What potential liabilities do high-energy ‘can do,’ results oriented people bring with them to new environments? There’s a lot to consider here, not the least of which is leadership’s role in shaping these bright stars.
What constitutes success in one venue does not guarantee it in another. Yes, there are attributes of success that are transferable and it’s important to know what they are. Stamina, mental toughness, agility, resourcefulness, self-control, and capacity to learn are among them. How prevalent are these in your company?
It’s also important to recognize that even the best and brightest among workers today need help understanding the intricacies of the business they’re now involved in. They need guidance, support, correction, and reassurance as they learn. They need experiences that gradually increase their levels of responsibility and also provide rest stops so they can process and internalize their learning.
Who will do this important work?
That’s a question that’s rarely asked; the assumption is that HR will take care of it. Perhaps this is an important reason why high potential candidates disappoint. They watch what’s going on. They listen to what’s being said. They see how decisions get made. If what they see and hear is consistent with what they’ve been told to expect, they’re fine. If not, bad things happen.
Faulty assumptions—about an individual’s potential and a company’s leadership—set people up to fail. If you’re serious about success, make it a practice to check your assumptions.