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What managers need to know about Talent

Submitted by on Wednesday, 27 May 20093 Comments

Few words are so widely used these days in business as that of ‘Talent’. And for good reason. Because as recent surveys have shown, this factor ranks highly among CEOs as being of major significance strategically. So we believe a clarification is in order of this highly important concept.

What talent really means, and why it matters

‘Talent’ is often loosely used to refer to a company’s human resource, or personnel as it used to be called before that.

But in recent years huge advances have been made in research to demonstrate that the real meaning of Talent – the ‘hardwiring’ or synaptic connections in an individual – is the no.1 driver of employee perfomance.

Empirical studies conducted by both the Corporate Leadership Council and Gallup (of over 150,000 employees globally) both concluded that it was this one factor – the linkage of an individual’s talents to his or her tasks or job – that drives a person’s effectiveness at work. The question obviously follows, why don’t companies hire for Talent (in its real meaning)?

Why companies don’t hire for Talent

This happens for a number of reasons. The first is because, as we have seen,  the meaning has been made unclear. The second is that when managers grasp the fact that innate talents are the major motivator at work,  the definition of what those talents are escapes them.

The third is the most interesting. Because talents are innate, they do not change. This raises the whole dilemma about performance ‘improvement’ in an individual, which goes against what we have been brought up to believe by the academic system, namely that individuals can improve in any area as long as ‘they work hard enough’.

Talent management in ThailandHowever, as science has shown, nothing is further from the truth. The formation of the synaptic connections in the brain by our teenage years, means that we have strong biases in how we, as humans, operate. To name a few, some of us are more structured in our outlook and problem-solving than others, and some of us see the world ‘more tangibly’ than others, all of which lead to very different behaviours. Talents determine how easily we can accomplish certain types of task, and the feeling of satisfaction we gain from doing so. Factors which become very, very important if we are doing the same task day after day.

The million dollar question is, how do we identify these talents?

Enter Highlands

It may come as a surprise to many reading this article that the longest-running psychometric assessment is not MBTI or DiSC but, wait for it, the Highlands Ability Battery.

The Highlands Ability Battery was born from work done by a certain Dr Johnson O’Connor from 1918 onwards, who wanted to answer the same question we have posed earlier: how can we identify ‘talents’?

The fruition of that work can be found here. This is a list of the scientifically- tested natural abilities within us, which in combination relate to the natural roles we are most suited to at work.

What makes Highlands Gold Standard

Some psychometric tests make bold claims of their effectiveness.

Highlands stands out from the crowd because it does not only identify talents (rather than personality) but also does so not through a ‘question and answer’ approach but by worksamples. These are activities performed online in a battery (again and again at speed, increasing in complexity) which capture an individual’s talents objectively.

This means that the results are irrefutable. And, because they relate to the multi-decade research carried out by the Johnson O’Connor institute, there is a very high correlation between these talents and their application at work, driving the effectiveness we spoke of earlier.


Companies who adopt Highlands benefit in the following ways:

♦ They can identify the most natural match for roles (talent selection). Talents have high correlation for work effectiveness as we have seen, whereas academic success or experience is  low in correlation to performance.

♦ Career pathing and development. If you would like to build a leadership pipeline, Highlands can help.

♦ Team building and development. Want to avoid the ‘square peg in round hole’ syndrome? Then use Highlands to help ensure your team members are playing to their strengths, not their weaknesses.

Interested? – What you need to do now!

If you’d like to find out more, simply complete the form here and we will send you an information sheet.


Talent Technologies :: Taking your Talent to a Higher Level



  • […] this and working to it leads to higher engagement at work. If you can do the same with your team members, this can lead to even greater performance in your […]

  • […] based. (For a full take on what our talents are exactly, feel free to look at our articles here and here on the […]

  • Star Talent says:

    […] one thing every manager needs to know, as we’ve seen in this article here, and as the late Steve Jobs shared with us in this video here, is how to identify […]

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