It's no secret that the best-coached professional sports teams sometimes beat more-talented rivals. Outcomes are similar in business.
While the corporate world lacks formal awards like the Lombardi Trophy or Stanley Cup, managers are rewarded based on their ability to put each team member in position to succeed. In fact, managers cannot advance their own careers without becoming skilled in the art of talent management.
"Top executives will naturally look to the manager as the primary reason for success," says Brian Margarita, CEO of IT staffing firm TalentFuse.
So how do you get the most out of your team? Develop a winning talent management strategy with these tips:
Identify Different Talent Types in Your Organization
"A good manager will surround him or herself with employees whose talents complement those of the manager and each other," says Carol E. Gilson, vice president of human resources and client services for EMPO, a professional employers organization. "In a team environment, there is synergy whereby the sum of the talents of the group surpasses what each person could accomplish individually."
Margarita recommends assessing workers' individual abilities to provide a snapshot of the team's potential as a whole. This picture helps you determine each person's optimal role as well as where talent gaps lie. "The most talented quarterback can't win games without someone talented to throw to."
Determine What Motivates Each Team Member
A key step in building a well-balanced team is to find out what drives each person, says George Mantor, CEO of The Associates Financial Group.
"Talent thrives on challenge and withers and dies when forced to endure routine, meaningless or boring tasks," Mantor says. "Talent wants to compete against the very best. Talent wants multiple ways to express itself, to test itself and to grow."
Developing potential stars also involves identifying their strengths and weaknesses. "What a manager needs to do is to identify each employee's strengths and talents as well as areas in which he or she is in need of development," Gilson says. "Once specific talents are identified, an effective manager will utilize an employee's strengths by giving him or her opportunities to work on projects which optimize those strengths."
Gilson says this identification of talents will benefit the employee, who will be more satisfied at work; the manager, who can increase productivity by assigning tasks to the properly skilled workers; and the company as a whole, which gains a workforce that's both happier and more productive.
Look beyond current job titles to figure out which tasks workers love or hate. "Get clear about who does what best or worst, who is most passionate about which type of work, and who dislikes which aspects of the work," says Sharon Jordan-Evans, author of Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay. "If you're fuzzy about your talent and their skills and preferences, you risk losing them, either physically -- they quit -- or psychologically -- they quit and stay.