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CEO Of Janson Associates Dr. Kim Janson Shares Her Expert Insights On Talent Optimization

In today’s hypercomplex world, hiring talent is more important than ever with numerous challenges to hurdle. When a company hires and onboards a professional with the skills and knowledge to facilitate company-wide success, talent retention becomes all the more important. Oftentimes, the reasons people leave have to do with company culture, environments, and respect, which upper level management can sometimes turn a blind eye to. With over 25 years of experience in helping companies and leaders achieve great success, Dr. Kimberly Janson, the CEO of Janson Associates, has worked tirelessly to pull companies out of situations where talent optimization was lacking, shifting towards improving environments where people want to work in the long term.

What Is Talent Optimization?

Everyone understands the importance of creating teams that work well together. Yet, where they work and how they are treated, both from a team and individual focus matters. “The definition of talent optimization is a visceral commitment to creating an environment where people can be their best selves and the company is better because of it,” Kim states.

Janson Associates is a firm dedicated to unleashing the potential of individuals, teams, and organizations. Kim has built a thriving career on her commitment to helping people reach success, Talent optimization being a core component of that. Over the years of connecting with thousands of managers, leaders and industry professionals, Kim shares below these 10 things companies must do to optimize talent and tap into winning, successful relationships.


#1: Recruit with Clarity

Companies who optimize talent are very clear from the start in who they are looking for when recruiting people. Kim advocates strongly for a framework that everyone can understand such as creating a leadership model for the organization that exemplifies the attributes people need to help the company be successful in the future. Such a leadership model should include a focus on the three layers of responsibilities all employees should have which is to lead yourself, others, and the business. Clearly defining what the company needs to enhance its productivity and success is essential to being able to source and recruit talent that can be game changers for the company’s agenda.

#2: Determine Leadership Potential from the Onset

When working to recruit leaders that support the company’s vision,  it is critical to determine the leadership potential for any new hire. There are four variables critical to this, Kim says.

  • Intelligence
  • Personality
  • Motivation
  • Learning ability

Before bringing anyone into the company, assess for these key areas. Getting the right talent in the door to minimizes problems later! To achieve this, it’s critical to pay close attention to culture. Organizations have a culture based on identifying their shared beliefs and values. Kim says, “It is a common concern. As much as 80% of organizational  issues arise around communication, assumptions, and perception. This directly ties back to culture”, and beyond this, it is equally important to hold people accountable to this standard. Leaders play a tremendous role in the fulfillment of the culture you want so it is essential to choose wisely when you recruit leaders to ensure they indeed have the potential to be tremendous leaders, culture creators and keepers.

#3: Performance Management Matters

Kim wrote a book about basic hygiene in organizations with this key sentiment; “When people have clear expectations and feedback, they perform better.” Take a strong approach to talent management because it is the backbone of true effectiveness of organizations. Her book, Demystifying Talent Management, emphasizes the power of being disciplined in this area leads to achieve the goals of the organization.

#4: Assess and Develop Talent on an Ongoing Basis

The development of individuals and  teams must happen on an ongoing basis because nothing stays the same for any amount of time these days. Assess where people are and create an ongoing commitment to developing talent. A personally and professionally growing team is much more advantageous than a stagnant one. 

#5: Move People!

Move people every 18 to 20 months. This helps to build skills but also creates judgment. People now more than ever want to move and for many, is a critical component to growth. This may just be the jumpstart your employees need to revitalize their excitement, enthusiasm and innate desire for growth. The advantage to companies, extend beyond retention because people are feeling invested in and developed. These employees bring the knowledge from their prior function into their new roles and the organization will run better as a result.

#6: Show Appreciation to People

This is an area many fail to consider, but positive rewards and recognition can enable a better mindset within each individual. It creates an opportunity to feel valued and appreciated for the ongoing efforts of the employee and reinforces the value they contribute to the organization. As Kim says, “Appreciation is free and the returns are tremendous.”

#7: Link Everything to Your Strategy

Your talent goals need to connect with the company’s overall plan and timeline to achieve great things. It is incredibly important at the management level to ensure you are including your team within this process. When you do, you ensure every member knows how they are contributing to the bigger picture. Ensure you are synchronizing talent to strategy.

#8: Meet Them Where They Are

No one person is the same, and every person has their skills and ‘blindspots’. Each person has their own preferred working styles, which is why it is important to treat them as individuals. To do so effectively, Kim says, “Leaders who meet people where they are and speak their language are able to get more out of people.”

#9: Manage Volatility

People have no tolerance for volatility  in organizations. Volatility can come in many forms such as wild swings in approach, strategy, decision making, and emotions. It is destructive to organizations.  Safeguarding against volatility in the workplace is critical to spur growth and encourage a positive work culture.

#10: Recognize that Leadership Counts

Recognize that leadership is a science. Leaders should dedicate the same level of focus, time and commitment to be great leaders that they did to become great marketers or accountants. It should be treated as a crucial component to enabling the success of organizations, because it is. Organizations that optimize talent have committed to creating a cadre of strong leaders which requires ongoing nurturing and development. 

5 Factors Prevent Companies from Optimizing Their Talent

Beyond the key recommendations that can create greater opportunities for talent optimization, Kim states there are five core factors that prevent companies from optimizing, see below:

#1: People don’t have good talent assessment skills.

In short, people often see something and think they can change it or worse, they don’t even see things clearly. This is simply a gap in organization. Instead of aiming to change a person’s negative personality traits, be honest about the risk and make courageous decisions to assess talent with great truth and clarity.

#2: There is focus on positional players instead of athletes.

Look at the whole individual (athlete), not just how well they fit into a position within the company. Hire athletes to ensure the work can be done meaningfully but also assessing whether they can play other positions. When you’re busy and desperate to hire, it’s often the case organizations don’t take the time to hire for broader capabilities and just look to fill in the gaps, which will end up costing more in the long run. 

#3: Organizations fail to think about compensation.

One of the most detrimental things you can do to your business is lose strong talent because you are being ‘cheap’. If a person presents as a powerhouse and can do the job of two people, pay them well to do that. Many organizations lose talent because of a lack of paying for worth and outside of some standard range. Don’t be short sighted on compensation decisions.

#4: They fail to build an organization that high-performing people want to join.

Each hire contributes to the team. If there are numerous average performers in the building, that is off putting to high potential people interested in applying. Another concern that limits success for management is not having a clear culture or not knowing how to create a strong, healthy culture. Kim states that “Winners want to be with other winners. Winners want to work with other people who know how to win.” That magnetism will undoubtedly attract them to the organization.

#5: There is an ongoing leadership crisis.

Growth is often limited by what leadership lacks. If management is not performing at its best, that is going to directly cost the company valuable top talent and can stifle those with good skills. On the other hand, unleashing potential is possible when a strong, healthy management structure is in place. Kim states, “Just because people have the title, it does not mean that those people with those titles do not always have the depth and the skill they need to be a strong leader.”

At Janson Associates, we are culture creators. We are leader builders. We look at what is slowing organizations down, such as volatility and poor talent optimization. Then, we provide a solution designed to address those areas. As experts in performance management, we can craft new opportunities for organizations. Fundamentally, we are experts of the business of business and know how to help optimize talent and create highly effective teams and organizations.

Are you ready to make a change? Ready to develop performance management skills to build stronger, healthier organizations? Dr. Kimberly Janson is ready to help.

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