Posts Tagged ‘Responsibility’

Are you a Talent?

Feb 11, 2011 // 1 Comment » // HR Insights

Are you a talent that others think you are?

For many years in my adult life, I vaguely remembered that I ever scored a spectacular goal from the half-way line in a game of football (soccer in some parts of the world) at a primary school competition. I remembered the euphoria of my team-mates running towards me to celebrate on a rain soaked pitch at the now defunct Mountbatten Primary School; the team went on to win the competition that year.

As I grew older, that memory faded and reach a point that I begin to suspect it was all but a dream…until more than 30 years later I met an old primary school classmate in an army-reserve unit gathering.

“Hey, are you from Mountbatten Primary?”

“Yes, and you are…? Sorry, I cannot recall who you are…”

“I am Peter. I don’t think you can recognize me but you seems to retain your features quite a bit…!”

“Oh…I do?! I will take that as a compliment…”

“And of course I will always remember the goal that you scored from the half-way line…it was one of the highlights of that competition…”

“OMG, thank you for confirming that dream of mine that was with me for the longest time…I keep having this image in my head but wasn’t sure I actually did that…!! If not for this chance meeting and you telling me that…!”

“Of course you did…it was one of the highlight of our cohort and you were quite famous after that…! How are you? Did you went on to have a career in football?”

“Ummm… me, football…I wish…!”

For the record, football takes precedents in the second-half of my teenage years that not only ruined my education somehow but also both my knees that requires major surgery. At best I went on to represent school at various level but has never go beyond that. It’s only in my young adult years when I discover why my so call “talent” was not fully developed. It was from a quote that I learnt from probably the greatest football player – Pele and he says:

“To be a great soccer player; you must first be a great athlete.”

How I wish I have heeded his advice in my formative years…

But when I take a step back and think deeper, I would say that the environment of the 70s and 80s that I was brought up with wasn’t the best for sporting athletes. At that time, Singapore was in a state of industrialization and most national initiatives such as educational and manpower policy are towards creating jobs and preparing the people to be as employable as possible in the marketplace. Therefore many others including me would not have a conducive environment to develop sportingly.

What is my point?

I sometime find it quite amusing when academics and management gurus keep telling the world that there’s a drought of talent out there in the marketplace, that organizations in this competitive world face a war for talent so on and so forth…Have we ever ask ourselves what do we do when we “recruited” the talents into our organization? Have we put in place an environment that the so-call talent will thrives and excel? What is our definition of talent? Are there really such thing as “ready-made” talent out there that when engaged will perform to what’s expected of them?

My recent role in Learning and Development enable me to confront this questions directly and work closely with a team of talent management professionals. I am glad that my business partner have similar view on talent management and we intended to drive the initiatives of human resources towards a holistic approach starting from the “WHY” we recruit to the “WHY” they leave the organization. We may not be sure that all that arrived at our door would consider as “ready-made” talents but we aspire to ensure that most leave our door would consider to be some talent in their own rights.

What do you think?

I would like to hear your view or your definition of talent.

Empower your people…Challenge by Choice

Mar 23, 2010 // No Comments » // Change Initiation | Conversational Circles | From The Inside Out

Photo source: Flickr_Steve.portigal

Picture source: Steve.portigal via Flickr

This is brilliant: if you dirnk, you have a CHOICE – take a taxi ($20) or take a cop car ($1800). Like “click it or ticket” they set up law enforcement as a situation where you are making an informed choice. I think this elevates the community member in the dynamic. Plus, this car is just a fantastic visualization of the two different vectors in that choice. Taxi married to cop-car.

I have been attempting to write about this topic for a while but I was concerned of both the philosophical and psychological implication of its meaning…nevertheless, I CHOOSE to take the risk. So do give me your two-cents worth of thoughts if you think that I don’t make any sense.

The first time I paid attention to the meaning of CHOICE was when my mentor said: “Do take a deeper understanding to the meaning of the word ‘Choice’ for the well being of your life. It may be one of the worthwhile life pursuit after-all”. During my tenured at Singapore Training & Development Association, we used the phrase “Challenge By Choice” as a way to encourage adult learner to be responsible for their choice of action and involvement in their learning. Even then, I wasn’t very sure what it really means…

  • “the challenge is introduced unto you from the outside and you have to make a choice to be subjected to it or not.” or
  • “the challenge is re-introduced by you from the inside and you make a choice to be subjected to it or not.”

I gave some thought to this lately and here’s my observation. In the former scenario, the common responses are ” Oh, I have NO CHOICE but to accept…” or “This is not what I am looking for but I’ve got NO CHOICE…” –  The common post-decision reactions are of blame, haplessness. In the latter, a likely response when people ‘re-introduced’ the challenge intrinsically and make a willful choice on it tends to take ownership of its implication and responsible for its outcome. A common post-decision reactions are usually of ownership of control, pride of trying and learning to take risk etc.

Some years ago, I was tasked to run a workshop for new employees to help them understand the importance of “responsibility”. At that time, I wasn’t sure how a three hours workshop can help young adults to ‘become’ responsible for their action, learning and development; but after much thought I decided to give it a try… I remembered the session started with the participants strolling into the classroom randomly and about a third of them were late for the 8.30am session. By 8.50am, most were seated chatting away with laptop computer up (they seems busy checking emails) and some even sipping coffee and having their breakfast. I stood silently right at the front of the room throughout and observing with keen interest of their actions. By 9.00am, most were alerted by my silence and I thought it was that silence that jolt them into their consciousness. When the classroom came to a complete mute, I asked:

“Why are you here?”

It takes another couple minutes of silence before someone bravely responded: “WE are here because we are told to do so.”

“Thanks for being brave and taking action to respond for the rest. But why are YOU here?” I asked firmly with my eyes fixated on him.

“Umm…I think I am here…because…I have NO CHOICE! The email indicated that the attendance is compulsory and failing to attend will result in having to report to my manager…” he continued bravely with his reasons and garnering some supportive nods and ‘yeses’ from other colleagues.

I sensed a good opportunity to introduce the concept of CHOICE and asked: “If I give you permission to return to your work-station if you CHOOSE not to be here, and promised that I will take full responsibility for your omission from this class, what say you?”

Surprisingly, that reply brought laughter aloud from the class as if they thought I was joking. I retorted firmly: “That promised goes to everyone in this class, if you are not able to take RESPONSIBILITY and make a CHOICE to be here by your will, then the next 3 hours will be a waste of your time and mine.”

No one leave the class that day. We had an enjoyable three hours (or less with an indicative introduction to the workshop).

I know that you prized and valued the opportunity to be self-determining. To be able to make choices.

When was the last time you said: “I have NO CHOICE!”?