Talent Scouting: Are you any good at it?

Our Louis is more handsome

Our Louis is more handsome

Our Bullmastiff’s name is Louis. The kids named him after Louis Vuitton (the designer) not Louis Walsh, manager of various boybands. Despite sharing the same first name, the X Factor judge and our dog actually don’t have a lot in common.  ‘Our Louis’ has all his own hair, loads of wrinkles and is not afraid of Simon Cowell. However, Louis Walsh comes into his own in relation to talent spotting. Example: When ‘John & Edward’ burst onto the music scene, most right-thinking folk thought it was the latest incarnation of the Muppets, reminiscent of the Oscar Wilde quip: “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go”. While the rest of us saw red and scrambled for the channel changer, Louis Walsh saw potential. You can’t sing, you can’t dance, you’ll go far. 3 years later Jedward are opening every kids show in Europe, and packing out the Pantomimes at Christmas. At the recent Childline concert in the O2 they had the audience screaming so loud, the hard of hearing in Australia had a disturbed morning.

Talent Spotting: At the end of November, a gig in the Science Gallery in Trinity College (sponsored by Foroige) was also focused on talent. It was the final of a European wide competition to find entrepreneurial talent in secondary schoolchildren. The projects were mostly simple but brilliantly clever. I particularly liked the company ‘Sole Sale’ – which designed shoes for women with a detachable heel – so the shoe could become a ‘flat’ for walking and high heeled for dancing and nights out (I can’t personally vouch for the fact that they work). In this particular competition, the idea was to encourage and grow talent – identifying future Richard Bransen types.

Your Organization: In the consulting role I get to meet lots of young managers. Sometimes, depending on the nature of the project, I might ask them: “What % of your talent is being utilized in your current job?”. Anything north of 80% is probably OK, but sometimes the reported percentages are shockingly low. I see great (potential) talent being put to work ‘manning the oars’ when they could be navigating the route. I meet selfish senior executives hoarding talent and others who are afraid of it. And I bump up against organizations who believe that ‘forward planning’ is sorting out a free bar for the Christmas Party. In the marketplace there are all sorts of complex talent management strategies. They boil down to 3 activities (1) making an effort to identify people with potential (2) allowing those people to develop by ‘blooding’ them on real projects (3) following up – coaching the next generation of managers to consolidate the learning.

Talent Scouting: If you are not already a talent scout, then you need to make time to do this, even if time is a scarce commodity. Perhaps take a lead from Ernest Shakelton who said: “Difficulties are just things to overcome”. Why? Because, executives are not simply paid to manage today. You are expected to get your organization ready for tomorrow, a tomorrow that may be as different from today as a Bic biro is from an interactive touch screen. And a key part of this is managing the human resources – the talent – in your organization. Perhaps someone spotted you as raw talent in the past, someone who saw potential, envisaged what you would become? Do you owe any less to the next generation of managers?   You’re not just a spectator in some talent management show – you’re right up there on the stage and expected to perform. Help to get the next crew ready by taking an active role in this. As Jedward might say: “Look out, she’s behind you.”


PS Lighter Moment: Christmas can be a time of family stress… spare a thought for others going through some trauma (a bit non PC; look away now if you are of a sensitive disposition).

Dear Wife….I’m writing you this letter to tell you that I’m leaving forever. I’ve been a good man for 7 years & I have nothing to show for it. These last 2 weeks have been hell. … Your boss called to tell me that you quit your job today & that was the last straw. Last week, you came home & didn’t even notice I had a new haircut, had cooked your favorite meal & even wore a brand new pair of silk boxers. You ate in 2 minutes, & went straight to sleep after watching all of your soaps. You don’t tell me you love me anymore; you don’t want sex or anything that connects us as husband & wife. Either you’re cheating on me or you don’t love me anymore; whatever the reason, I’m gone. Your EX-Husband

P.S. Don’t try to find me. Your SISTER & I are moving to Athlone!

Dear Ex-Husband…Nothing has made my day more than receiving your letter. It’s true you & I have been married for 7 years, although a good man is a far cry from what you’ve been. I watch my soaps because they drown out your constant whining & griping. Too bad that doesn’t work. I DID notice when you got a hair cut last week, but the 1st thing that came to mind was ‘You look just like a girl!’ Since my mother raised me not to say anything if you can’t say something nice, I didn’t comment. And when you cooked my favorite meal, you must have gotten me confused with MY SISTER, because I stopped eating pork years ago. About those new silk boxers: I turned away from you because the €49.99 price tag was still on them & I prayed it was a coincidence that my sister had just borrowed €50 from me that morning. After all of this, I still loved you & felt we could work it out. So when I hit the lotto for €3.8 million, I quit my job & bought us 2 tickets to Jamaica. But when I got home you were gone. Everything happens for a reason, I guess. I hope you have the fulfilling life you always wanted. My lawyer said that the letter you wrote ensures you won’t get a cent from me. So take care. Your Ex-Wife, Rich As Hell & Free!

P.S. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but my sister Carla was born Carl. I hope that’s not a problem.

Know someone who’d benefit from reading this blog? Forward it on or ask them to contact paul@tandemconsulting.ie and we will add them to the mailing list. If you’d like to have a discussion about management or organization development, give me a call on 087 2439019.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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2 Responses to Talent Scouting: Are you any good at it?

  1. L mc Givern says:

    Hi Paul That dog has certainly put on a few pounds since he was running around our kitchen floor. Still enjoying the Blogs.

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