talent engagement

By Nikki Bush and Raymond de Villiers

Statistics across the board increasingly indicate that people are disengaged at work. They come to work and do their time. They turn up but they are not invested in what they do. Talent engagement strategies within organisations seem to be failing dismally.

Employees, including high performing young talent, are either whiling away their time until something more interesting crops up or are leading lives of quiet desperation. Talent engagement strategies are failing in between the metrics and the lack of people awareness and people skills among line management. People are getting lost in the process, costing organisations dearly.

Presenteeism is the ultimate expression of this trait where individuals are coming to work, but are so disengaged that they may as well not be there. Alternatively, they are so disengaged at work that they end up costing the business more than if they were Absenteeism statistics.

How are we experiencing talent being disengaged in the workplace? How should we go about reversing that experience?

Tapping into the individual

Without tapping into an individual’s energy, enthusiasm, passion and individuality, there is no engagement. In a world of high distraction and constant change, understand that young talent are like hunters, always scanning the horizon for the next most exciting thing. If that is not happening within your organisation and if they have no real role to play in it that grows their Talent Profile, they will lose interest and commitment. They will become disengaged.

Executives and managers we meet often use the word “Entitled” to describe their perceptions of young high-performers. This sense is generated by them looking for, and expecting, a work environment that allows them to contribute and make a daily difference with their unique skills and abilities. They want their work to be meaningful, and if we want to engage with them we need to enable that.

Everyone has attention deficit disorder today

It is interesting to work off the basis that everyone’s attention today is being distracted and pulled in a million different directions. If that is the case, you have to work extra hard on customising an experience for an individual if you want to engage them.

Everyone is born AASD – an Automatic Attention Seeking Device, and nothing much changes as we grow older. We gravitate to where we are noticed and valued; to where people pay attention to us – to our talents, interests and who we are as individuals. A child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is easy to engage with if you tap into what fascinates them. This means knowing your staff and meeting them where they are at.

Work out how to pay proper attention to an individual that makes them feel noticed and they will be engaged – in their own process, and, they will stick around with you for longer. Work out how to put that engagement to work to achieve your own goals and you are on a sure path to winning with talent.

Help them populate their Talent Profile

Line managers must help talented high-performing individuals to fill in the various aspects of their Talent Profile – the new look CV discussed in the book Future-proof Your Child (Penguin 2008) by Nikki Bush and Dr Graeme Codrington). This is a very useful talent engagement strategy that enables individuals to become invested in their own journey. This journey is inextricably linked with who they are not just what they do. This is a hot button for high-performing talent because it is their launch pad to bigger and better opportunities in their future – either within your company, or elsewhere.

If you are worried about your young talent leaving, read more here.

Get to know them

Make sure that your performance development programmes are properly used, not just to measure talent, but to get to know them. Find out what floats their boat and gets them excited. We are under-utilising these tools, turning them into impersonal, HR processes and procedures making management devoid of the human touch.

Get to know your young talent as the individuals they are. Pay attention to detail. Buy into their vision and share how you can help them develop their Talent Profile while they concurrently help you to achieve your performance objectives.

Surprise them. This is talent engagement at its best.

Talent engagement and working with high-performing individuals (particularly Millennials between 20 and 35 years of age) needs to be redefined for organisations to survive and thrive in a fast-changing world.

Download our free ebook, Talent Re:Defined here for a new framework and fresh perspective.

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