How Line Managers Can Deprive You Of Real Talent

It is always a sound business strategy to identify the employees who have the ability and passion to do great things for your organization in the future. You must get to know who your start employees are at the earliest and provide them with fast tracked promotion opportunities. Similarly, it will also enable you to nurture, engage and most importantly, retain such employees by starting effective development programs for them.


Line managers normally take help of various performance potential matrixes, most important of which is "9 box grid" to analyze the performance of people under their supervision. Unfortunately, many organizations are simply unable to clearly define the term potential. As a result, it is left to the sole discretion of the line manager to decide whether someone is talented or not. The process is definitely faulty because a line manager can easily subject the team members he doesn't like to his bias. It is a fact that managers tend to deem those people those people talented who look and behave like them in terms of their ethnicity, culture, region, background or education.

In simply words, you should not only rely on judgment of a line manager while compiling talent pool consisting of the best employees your organization has.

No Need of Managers' Ratings:

The basic fault of 3600 evaluation is that everyone has different opinion about the person under evaluation. For instance, a line manager might rank him very highly but his peers, customers or direct reports might present a totally different picture. You might also notice that names of other persons with all the competencies such as emotional intelligence, strategic agility and interpersonal skills which you want to see in your future leaders are climbing the list as well.

Therefore, organizations need to adopt a more investigative and holistic approach rather than relying on managers ratings to create a talent pool. For instance, you should specify the tasks which a person in a certain managerial position will do during next 3 years. Subsequently, you must identity the best assessors for particular competencies and then analyze who has the valid opinion a person's abilities. This way, you will be able to rank the people according to their abilities to succeed in a certain position or role.

Ask Insightful Questions:

Asking insightful questions is all about having full knowledge about the "talented employees" and to understand and use this data properly. For instance, there exists a rift between manager and the subordinates if everyone except the manager is rating them heavily.

Apart from bias, the blind spot which prevents the managers to accurately analyze the performance of the individuals also makes them rate someone poorly despite the fact that he possess plenty of potential. Most often, it is an innocent mistakes but sometimes the things are more sinister. A manager might deliberately undermine someone skills in order to get rid of him or because he is an exceptional performer and does not want to lose him.

Change the Role of Manager:

It is not wise at all to remove managers from talent hunting processes. Rather, you should change their roles slightly. A better way is to make managers involve in a heathy coaching style conversation with the employees and help them enhance their skills, build on their strengths and improve their performance by setting realistic goals.

Similarly, you should also make everyone including the manager believe that they are responsible for identifying potentially talented individuals. It will definitely impact their working style as well as performance as everyone tries to do his best in the areas where he is being assessed.

You expose yourself to the danger of missing the actual talent when you depend solely on the ratings of the line mangers. You have to pinpoint people who are better equipped to give opinion on this issue. Similarly, you need to identify employees who can excel in certain positions using 3600 assessment. Only this way, you will be able to make more informed decision about the future of your organization.

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