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December 2017
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Identifying Hidden Talents
Dr. Herb Greenberg
Dr. Herb Greenberg

When companies are recruiting, their top-of-mind concern is usually to ensure that they find someone well suited and qualified to do the required job. However, far too often, many companies stop there. Usually the questions they want answered include: Will this person be a good Customer Service Representative? Or will this individual be a suitable salesperson for our northwest division?

Enter succession planning. Succession planning isn’t merely ‘who will be our next CEO?’ Rather, it’s ‘who is our next in line?’ Do you know if that Customer Service Representative can be your next successful Customer Service Manager? Or do they show some potential to be your next Sales Manager? What could be their next step? Simply put, succession planning is all too often not involved in the process of choosing a candidate – many companies consider themselves lucky if they hire someone who can do a particular job well.

And considering that candidate or employee’s next step is mutually beneficial. It benefits your company because you are able to increase employee engagement and lower your recruitment costs, and it benefits the individual because he or she will feel more loyal to your company knowing that you care about his or her career path.

There is a staggering statistic across the board that indicates that only 30% of employees currently working enjoy the position they hold. So, as I have said before, it’s not always best to fully rely on what someone has done in the past. It’s critical to look at what someone is inherently motivated to do and consider how that person truly matches to the requirements of a particular job.

I have suggested – and will continue suggesting – that one of the first things to do when you’re recruiting and building career paths for your employees is to really analyze where your employees are today and where they hope to be in the future. You might have a great salesperson who is doing a wonderful job, and you may want to promote that individual to management. However, he or she might not be inherently motivated or willing to take on that opportunity. Rather, it might make more sense to give that salesperson a larger book of business or a more exclusive set of clients.

You might also currently have a salesperson who is interested in moving into a more service-oriented position in your organization. These are all things that will help you build the best career path and succession plan for both your company and your employees.

Someone in your organization might be doing an adequate job in one area, but he or she could be excelling in another. And you won’t know if that’s the case until you have those conversations, invest in your employees, and take action accordingly. Your ROI will speak for itself.

We’ve found that, in the end, making that investment ends up being the least expensive – and the most productive – way to go.

With that investment you may find your future leaders right in front of you.

When we talk about identifying and then developing leaders, we frequently find that potential leaders are everywhere – including within your own organizations. They’re often closer than you think.

Leaders are not usually identified during the normal course of recruitment. A great example of this is baseball player Jacob deGrom, who was playing as a light-hitting shortstop. However, he was drafted by the New York Mets as a pitcher and, as a result, was named Rookie of the Year.

In business, leaders can be – and often are – discovered in similar ways. For example, you may be searching for a Sales Manager, COO, or CFO. During your hiring process, you’ll likely be looking for people who have experience with activities that are similar to those required in your specific leadership role.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But that shouldn’t be the ONLY method by which you recruit leaders.

Your next leader could currently be in a lower-level position at your company, and it may even be a job that doesn’t really resemble the leadership role that you are trying to fill.

So, are you aware of those future leaders in your organization? The ones who could be doing great things for you in the future? Are you developing them? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you might be overlooking a potential superstar.

Taking the time to assess the personalities of your internal high-potential employees will give you an inside look into their potential for other roles.

Just as the Mets discovered Jacob deGrom’s potential as a pitcher, disguised as a light-hitting shortshop, you just might find your next sales leader or C-level executive by using a personality assessment to gauge their potential and then implementing development programs to start that individual on a path up the ladder at your organization.

Before you go on an extended search to find a stranger who might not work out in the end, look internally at some of your hidden talent. It will be more cost-effective, efficient, and valuable to both you and the employee.

And then with a little training and development – as well as support from mentors and supervisors – you can help make that current employee the best worker for today as well as prepare them to be the best leader in the future.

About Caliper - For nearly half a century, Caliper has been helping companies achieve peak performance by advising them on hiring the right people, managing individuals most effectively and developing productive teams. The accuracy, objectivity and depth of our consulting approach enable us to provide solutions that work for over 25,000 companies. To find out more about how Caliper can help you identify and develop people who can lead your organization to peak performance, please visit us at  or call us at 609-524-1200. Email to contact Caliper.