Create your own talent pool?

With unemployment continuing to hover near historic lows, just getting applicants is hard enough.  Finding applicants skilled for the position you are hiring, is even more difficult.  If you’re challenged with finding skilled employees know that you are not alone!  In today’s business climate, that challenge is nearly shared by all.   One solution: Code your own.

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the publishing of “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle.   Coyle is one of these authors who puts a ton of research into his books.  He offers example upon example to back up the message of the book.  The gist of The Talent Code is that we have much more control over becoming masters of skills than we think.  Coyle explains it from a neurological standpoint, but in a way that makes it easy to understand; in essence, how to code your own talent.

Creating your own talent….  

  • Coyle breaks it down into three parts Deep Practice, Ignition, and Master Coaching.

Deep Practice.  It starts with myelin (mī-uh-lin).  He uses the example of wrapping black electrical tape around a wire.  Myelin is the tape.  The wire is neural pathways of circuits that need to be completed to execute whatever talent it is you’re working on.  As you practice, you wrap more tape (myelin) around the wire (neural pathways) increasing the insulation allowing the signal to travel faster and more direct without interference. 

We all grow myelin by practicing a new skill.  The question is how do you grow it faster?  Coyle’s research uncovered what he calls deep practice and it includes three steps.

  1. Repetition.
  2. Making mistakes.
  3. Fixing mistakes.

The message is you have to fail to get better.  When you fix a mistake you’re simply getting circuits to fire correctly.  The idea of deep practice is intentionally practicing to the level you are struggling, where you make mistakes.  That is when you get smarter.  Practicing in your already comfortable zone does not accelerate the growth of myelin.  Think of it as failing forward. 

Chunking works.  Another secret to accelerating how fast your brain can learn a new skill is to break down whatever you’re trying to learn into small chunks.  It’s OK to look at the end goal, but to get there break it down into the smallest possible chunks and build from there.  Practice in chunks.

Ignition: The second component of the talent code is motivation.  In every example in the book Coyle identifies a key event or individual that ignited that talent to suddenly accelerate.  Creating ignition is creating passion.   On an individual level it may be that you simply have an interest in something.    Doctors who specialize in specific fields of medicine often have a life event that pulled them into their chosen specialty.   If you truly desire to develop talent you need to have some level of passion for it.  The more passion the more ignition.

Master Coaching. The final piece of the talent code is coaching.  As you might expect Coyle references some of the greatest sports coaches of all time in his research. He also referenced artists and performers. What he found at the heart of the “hotbeds” (as he referred to them) of talent was not the dominantly vocal leaders you might expect, but what he called “talent whisperers”.  They were noticeably more reserved and quiet than what he was expecting.  They all listened much more than they talked. He described them as a Master Coach.

The Four Virtues of a Master Coach…

The Matrix:   They have the capacity to challenge their employee, student, athlete, etc. to reach another level.  They get them to think about things in different ways, in search of new solutions to the challenges they are faced with.

Perceptiveness: They are in tune with those they are coaching.  They realize not everyone is the same and adapt their style and methods to meet the situation.  

The GPS Reflex:  Master Coaches know when to give succinct pointed instructions for immediate application and their apprentice responds.  It’s like a GPS; a short direct command to turn left or right, usually followed with little thought of questioning.  That is GPS reflex. 

Theatrical Honesty: They have a sort of “stage presence” when they are working in their coaching mode.  They are still authentic and genuine but they are able to adapt their persona to connect with their audience.

Could this work in business? Is it practical to apply this idea of creating a pool of talent inside your own organization?   We think the answer is yes!  A lot of companies (including several of our Aspire clients) are getting a lot more intentional with programs to develop their talent internally.  By creating their own talent they can also tap into the Culture Code (Coyle’s more recent book).

What about your business?  Does your company develop talent or try to acquire it?  Or is it a combination of both?  Which has worked better for you? As always we value your comments in the space below.  

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach