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Training Vs. Talent Activation: The New Tendency

There is a growing gap between supply and demand when it comes to workforce skill sets — companies across the board report an increased difficulty in recruiting potential hires who meet their requirements.

As stated by Forbes, there is a “fundamental mismatch” between the skills business entities desperately need and the supply of potential employees who can provide them. In short, talented employees who meet industry requirements are becoming increasingly rare, making it harder for companies to fill employment positions with qualified individuals. In this harsh hiring climate, it has become increasingly essential that corporate bodies maximize the potential of current team members.

Industry leaders spend time, money and other resources to attract and hire the industry’s top professionals, but if these companies fail to place, develop, and train those individuals adequately, the investment is ultimately a loss.

Training in Comparison to Talent Activation

In previous years, companies in industries across the board have turned to traditional training methods to enrich employees, hoping to maximize their output and value. Conventional training methods typically focus on teaching concrete, specific skills. For example, a business entity can theoretically increase an employee’s worth by teaching new task-specific skills that allow for broadened responsibilities and increased productivity.

While training programs have their place, recent studies are showing that often, optimizing output and value is more about recognizing and capitalizing on pre-existing strengths. In modern hiring discourse, this new method is referred to as “talent activation.”

Although training aims to teach new skills and broaden an employee’s abilities, talent activation identifies and harnesses an individual’s established strengths to improve output. In short, talent activation is the challenge of turning one person’s talent into performance. These talents can refer to learned skills as well as character skills like focus, empathy, and competitiveness.

Benefits of Talent Activation

By tapping into an employees pre-established strengths and skills and honing them to serve the team’s needs best, talent activation helps to improve a company as a whole. Coincidentally, it also enriches the employee’s personal and professional satisfaction.

The first step of talent activation involves merely identifying an employee’s strengths and abilities. Doing so causes employees to feel as though the employer values their natural gifts and talents. Among other benefits, research shows that employees who feel appreciated and valued are more likely to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the company and stay in their position longer.

Challenges of Talent Activation

Likely because it requires a three-dimensional understanding of team aesthetics and personal development, talent activation as a whole is ignored in the corporate world. In comparison to other enrichment approaches, this practice has no basic formula and no easily quantifiable inputs or outputs.

Because talent activation has not been formally recognized in most discourses in the corporate world, very little training and resources have been given to team leads regarding how to best implement it.

That doesn’t change the fact that all companies should be optimizing their workforce potential through consciously activating pre-existing talent. Especially as skill gaps grow, it will become more and more essential for businesses to optimize and retain the talent they’ve already hired.

Uses of Traditional Training Methods

Of course, traditional training must never be dismissed entirely in a career setting: training is still necessary for specific, concrete skills. When administered effectively, training does help enrich employees. However, many training efforts aimed at growing the value of an employee or team are often ineffective and misdirected.

All-in-all, there is a place for traditional training in a productive workforce, but it should never be permitted to overshadow the talent activation. For overall development and improved team performance, there is no better way to turn human potential directly into increased business performance than to strategically capitalize on the dynamic strengths, skills, and abilities of a team’s employees.

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

By Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

President and CEO of Barbachano International (BIP),

The Human Capital Solutions leader in Mexico, Latin America, and the USA, offering high-impact executive search, executive coaching, and outplacement.

About Barbachano International

Barbachano International (BIP) is the premier executive search and leadership advisory firm in the Americas (USA, Mexico, Latin America, & Canada) with a focus on diversity and multicultural target markets.  Outplacement and Executive Coaching services are provided by our sister allied company Challenger Gray & Christmas. Since 1992, BIP and its affiliates have impacted the profitability of over 50% of Fortune 500 Companies.  BIP has been recognized by Forbes as Americas’ Best Executive Search Firms and currently ranks #27 and #3 on the West Coast.  Headquartered in San Diego, California with satellite offices in Florida and Mexico.  As member-owners of NPAworldwide Recruitment Network, we are supported by partner offices in over 50 countries.


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