Bridge over ocean
1 September 2014 CFA Institute Journal Review

The Big Idea: 21st Century Talent Spotting (Digest Summary)

  1. Gregory G. Gocek, CFA

The focus in hiring, promotion, and retention needs to shift toward the concept of personal potential to change. The author suggests how best to implement this new ideal.

What’s Inside?

A leading executive recruiter, the author discusses how evolving business volatility and complexity have driven the focus of management talent searches from personal competencies to an individual’s potential to adapt and grow. He describes the new key identifying criteria.

How Is This Article Useful to Practitioners?

Reminiscent of the investment disclaimer “past performance does not guarantee future results,” the author explains how hiring and promoting based on historical track records, no matter how accomplished, can be insufficient for 21st century managerial challenges. Physical attributes, intelligence, specific talents, and experience are not enough in the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous business environment, which is also an applicable consideration for investment practitioners in a globally competitive profession.

Because of a demographically shrinking pool of senior leadership candidates and narrowing internal talent pipelines as a result of neglecting training and development, hiring managers can best help themselves by applying the concept of personal potential as a discriminator. The revised orientation emphasizes five criteria—finding people with the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination.

The author includes useful pointers for a service-based industry/function, such as finance, on how to recruit, retain, and promote. Appropriate interview questions to elicit confirmation of the five ideal traits are also highlighted. He does note the established recruitment lessons most likely to have continuing relevance, such as how to best assess leadership abilities. Finally, an analysis of contemporary organizational role models, such as the Australian bank ANZ, yields suggestions for “stretch development” programs to further groom talent.

Abstractor’s Viewpoint

The author is persuasive in advocating that human resource decisions are subject to the same dynamics that shape organizations’ external business choices, and he offers serviceable guidance. But this professional matchmaking still seems to tend more toward art than science, and it does not seem to be particularly amenable to systemization when innovation is required. Adaptation in the hands of an accomplished practitioner like the author is likely a distinct proposition from a customary hiring committee. And some attention to how externally imposed public standards (e.g., minority hiring) shape and constrain the ideal staffing outcomes would have been enlightening.

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