The law of vital few, also known as Pareto’s 80-20 rule, states that 20% of the employees yield 80% of positive results in any organisation. But who are these vital few making such significant contribution to a company’s bottom-line? Undoubtedly, they are the ‘top talent’ of the company. Their superlative performance underpins organisational success. In today’s fiercely competitive business climate, the role of ‘top talent’ assumes further importance. In fact, the quality and quantity of ‘top talent’ present, is a key differentiator among organisations.
How is ‘top talent’ defined? Here is what some highly placed HR personnel have to say in this regard:
Rohan Chopra, Principal - Organisational Effectiveness practice of Tata Strategic Management Group says, “We believe that top talent is someone who exhibits both high performance and high potential.” According to Naveen Narayanan, Global Head - Talent Acquisition, HCL Technologies, “A top talent is an individual who at a point in time demonstrates a runway to do his current role at a high level of proficiency; shows promise to operate at a higher operating level.”
It is very important for companies to spot ‘top talent’ early on and provide them the right opportunities to excel. Usually, organisations define certain parameters to identify exceptional talent. According to Rajesh Padmanabhan, HR Head, Capgemini India, “Consistent high performance, high potential, high learning agility, strong values, and high leadership capabilities in being business pioneer and profit shaper and people’s leadership” are the parameters that govern top talent in their company.
Apart from parameters that define top talent, companies also need the right metrics to measure the performance of employees. This alone helps them distinguish top talent from average employees. Mr. Rohit Mathur, Vice President - Talent Management, Fiserv India, says, “Fiserv has a very well defined performance management system which is effective in measuring individual performance against goals and objectives as well as soft skills. Goals have both quantitative and qualitative measures. For example, quantitative goals cover software engineering process capability and project management measures, customer satisfaction and qualitative goals include employee engagement and retention, contribution to organisational initiatives. Fiserv has also developed a comprehensive career management framework and we have used that successfully to assess and measure capability and competencies of top talent.”
Mr. Rajesh Padmanabhan adds that in Capgemini India, “Specific metrics are used for each talent pool that directly influences our business results.
We target metrics such as contributions, margins, gross operating profit, utilisation rates, specific and measurable individual goals, etc. We use more stringent Key Performance Indicators for the metrics mentioned above for differentiating the top talent from the other employees. It also involves the extent to which they achieve their individual goals.”
Top performers, in addition to extraordinary talent also possess certain unique personal traits. Dr. Gobind Baghasingh, Head HR, TATA Power, says, “Top talents are quick learners, adaptable and positive.
They learn from successes and failures, bounce back from setbacks stronger than ever and take calculated risks.” Mr. R. Nanda, Vice President -Corporate HR, Tata Chemicals Limited points out, “The drive to achieve and put organisations over self, quick learning, handling ambiguity, genuineness in interpersonal relationships at work, ability to train team members to take larger roles, authenticity, mindfulness in interactions with people, are some of the unique traits.” According to Amar Sinhji, Head – Human Resources, Tata Capital, ‘top talent’ often possess traits such as, “Passion to deliver, self-motivation, the ability to deal with ambiguity and challenges, multi-tasking, people skills and a drive for results.”
‘Top talent’ contributes in a number of ways to the organisational success given the right environment to excel. “ At the Tata Power Company Limited, the focus is not only on identifying top talent but also preparing them to take up business critical roles, mentoring them, stretching their capabilities, supporting them through challenging times and celebrating their success.
Our top talents have written their own success stories by leading our efforts in project development, project execution, developing new businesses and spearheading international forays.
People find working with top talent an enriching experience. The top talents do no work in isolation. Their behaviour and thought process gets shaped in the vibrant culture of this company. “Uniqueness lies in filtering excellence from mediocrity and infusing that merit in their immediate surroundings” remarks, Dr. Gobind Baghasingh. Similarly, Mr. Rohit Mathur observes, “Top performing associates contribute in multiple ways to organisational initiatives; especially they participate in recruitment activities, cross functional task forces, and even policy formulation. In Fiserv, some of our best talent has helped develop and enrich our knowledge communities, and has performed the role of technical and business domain mentors and reviewers for our delivery teams.”
Mr. Naveen Narayanan says, “If a company is but a sum of its employees, the top talent is its success. Top performing employees make a 360 degree impact on the company – from its business, to its culture.
They are the future of the company and pillars of its present.” However, he is quick to add, “What is important to note is - top talent is not an entitlement, not a position. It is also not something that remains constant. People can drop off being top talent over time when they plateau on their competence.”
Thus, it is equally important for companies to monitor the progress of their top talent from time to time and give them the right impetus to maintain their top form.
Surely, it is not enough to just spot ‘top talent’; companies must also manage it well to create legendary stories of success!
N. Purnima Srikrishna