Don't take the tag and run to the next person offering you a 30% hike. You would have lost the fruits of your earlier labor
As the market tightens and as people get more senior in the company, we all find ways to stand out and be different from the next, so that a recruiter or a senior manager will make the call and invite us to the table.
Recently, one such résumé crossed my desk. It listed as an achievement “Was on the top talent program for 3 consecutive years”. So, during the interview, I made it a point to ask them about this. The conversation went something like this:
“I see you were on the top talent program. Tell me about this”
“Well, my company identifies the top 20 percent of the company every year and brands them the top talent. We are then involved in different programs and given some benefits for being the top talent. It is quite an honor.”
“Why do you think you were on this program?”
“I delivered on my goals! I always achieved the targets set for me.” (my typing does not do justice to the pride and gusto that was flowing from his words )
“So, why are you looking at leaving this company that obviously values you?”
“Yes yes, it is an honor but I need change. Also, the program does not address my needs.”
This then digressed into what this candidate’s “needs” were and we never made it back to the talent program…
But, it got me thinking about the myriad of talent programs that organizations run in hopes of retaining and enhancing its talent pool. Do the programs we design and execute have a clear directive? Do we outline the deliverables for those we choose to be in it? If I were to haul up a so called ‘Top Talent’ or “High Potential” employee, would they be able to articulate why they have been tagged as such?
More importantly, do those who have not been tagged, know what to do to be such an employee?
Taking from the MphasiS high potential program, that has been running successfully now for many years, here is a To-Do list to get there and a Don’ts list to stay there.
Here is a sixer if you follow you may get to the top talent program:-
Results – this is the foundation. You can look great on paper, but unless you show your company the ‘Money’, it doesn’t matter where you graduated from and who you lunch with. Time and again, meeting and exceeding your deliverables is what will get people to notice you. Once noticed, you need to keep their attention.
Consistency – A flash in the pan may get you on the list the first year, but it is only sustained performance that will keep you there. You need to be seen as a dependable and achievement oriented professional. Also, to note here is, achieving the same quantum of results is not enough. You need to keep ‘upping the game’ for yourself – raise the bar and meet it every time.
Company-first – Building on performance, you need to drive the company’s objectives and values. You need to be a true ambassador and be seen as someone who puts the company’s goals before your own personal wins. Be careful here – it is a very thin line between being a ‘company -man’ and being a ‘yes-man’. Know the difference and be the former.
Learning agility – A one trick pony will only be successful until a newer pony comes in with a better trick. To stay successful, you need to demonstrate your ability to learn and adapt to change. To be a successful professional, you need to be able to use your skills to proactively ‘create’ change. You need to be able to create differentiators and value-add by using your learning and analyzing business needs. What separates you and the next level of success is your ability to predict and change for business growth.
But remember, ‘high potential’, ‘top talent’, etc. are just tags. It is important to know what those tags mean and whether you want them to be part of the brand you create for yourself. Understand what you want to be seen as and how this and other tags fit into the image you want to create for yourself. And once you have the tags, don’t let them define you!
Sounds contradictory right? It’s not…
And when you get there – how do you stay there?
Many times, I see good people get heady because they have been given that additional complement, that greater visibility. These people start focusing on the ‘marketing’ of the whole thing and not what got them there in the first place. So, once you have arrived and gotten that coveted position as top talent,
• Don’t treat it as an entitlement – always stay hungry and keep focusing on the efforts it took you to get there in the 1st place. Don’t get too comfortable… you would have inspired a whole slew of people to get where you are and they will be biting at your heels soon.
• Don’t take flight – stick around and make your position greater in the organization. Don’t take the tag and run to the next person offering you a 30 percent hike. You would have lost all the fruits of your earlier labor. Who knows, your original company may have paid more or compensated in a different way.
• Network like crazy - especially amongst other top talent program members. One of them, if not you, will get the CEO’s job if not in this company then in the next. Also, getting things done in the informal network is a lot more effective and helps you stay in the top talent seat.
• Keep your head on your shoulders – remember the adage - ‘this too shall pass’ and don’t let it get to your head. If you want to know more on how not to fall into the success trap read, the last chapter of my book ‘You Don’t Need a Godfather’.
Good luck and as always, please leave your comments, disagreements and experiences. That is the best part of writing.
Elango R, is the Chief Human Resources Officer at MphasiS and author of the book “You Don’t Need a Godfather”. You can read his blog on www.ElangoR.com and follow him on Twitter @agastyasays