Talent Circles

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Three Keys To Unlocking the Challenges of Talent Diversity

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Move over demographics, there is a new category of diversity that reaches wider and deeper than race, sex or age. Managing today’s talent diversity must also now include the unique attributes of those individuals who hear the beat of their own drum.

Those who go against the corporate grain are often considered “different,” at times “adversarial” and clearly “non-conventional.” They may not easily conform, however if managed correctly, these unique types of talent can grow into strong leaders who can manage change and help grow innovation.

The lack of talent diversity can be quite stifling as companies seek to become more innovative. It would seem that business leaders would foster individualism and the diversity of thought to grow competitively. However, strangely, this is not the case.

Uniqueness is not a virtue in today’s corporate culture.

Based on a Harvard Business Review article, “Fear of Being Different Stifles Talent,” 66% of employers reported pressure to mute some acts of employee self identifies with 51% of those saying that perceived demands came from leadership.

We’ve discussed the importance of the candidate experience and the lengths recruiters must go to engage, communicate and create relationships with the most brilliant job seekers in order to lure them to their organizations, but the courting, communication and conversations don’t stop there.

Creating a culture of uniqueness goes beyond recruiting individuals who represent the path less traveled. Being open to the unique perspectives, points of view and experiences of existing employees should be rewarded and embraced as well.

Unlock the challenges to talent diversity.

When companies realize the value of attracting the true entrepreneurial talent that fosters innovation, efforts in the retention and development of this diverse talent will also be necessary. Otherwise, businesses will run the risk of having to staff a revolving door as employees realize the lack of uniqueness from within the organization.

There are three important points to consider when focusing on retention and development of employees who exemplify a truly unique mindset. Here is an overview of the key areas that will foster talent diversity in your organization.
  1. Employee Development – either through a formal program or tuition reimbursement, the focus needs to be on growing the employee and fulfilling them as an individual. By encouraging the unique area of interest of an employee to grow, it enriches the talent pool as a whole.
  2. Custom Communication – in the form of manager and employee. These must be intentional, regular and guided by the employee. Called one-on-ones these dialogues will help create a customized career path for each employee.
  3. Flexibility – Everyone’s career journey is unique. Managers and leaders must be open to flexible career paths not letting their own personal judgment get in the way of the eager, entrepreneurial-spirited employee.
The future of business will be different than today’s typical corporate world of conformity. Successful organizations of tomorrow will require an innovative culture and workforce with unique capabilities. Understanding the value of “individualism” as well as fostering the talent diversity in your organization will be a critical role that will have an impact on the overall success of any business.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

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