Continuing the list of trends within talent management for 2017 – and today, we have reached a topic that up until now has largely been championed by the startup and tech world. Over the past year, however, there have been numerous indications that this issue is gaining ever more attention in other sectors’ talent management, too. I’m talking about teams.
The word talent is not only associated with youth, as we talked about last time, but also with individuality. Most of organizations’ talent initiatives focus on identifying persons to be included in e.g. high-potential pools and programs. Arguably, this does not rightly reflect the conditions of modern work life in many industries. Most notably, knowledge-intensive work with high demands for innovation craves well-functioning teams. This is something very different from a mere collection of talented individuals. Remember the Groysberg studies, about the star analysts whose performance dropped when they switched jobs? Well, this did not happen for those analysts that took key parts of their teams with them (Groysberg, Eling Lee, & Nanda, 2008;Groysberg, Nanda, & Nohria, 2004). In other words, teams enable the deployment of individual capacities. Furthermore, they make members collectively transcend their individual capacities to reach higher. Much of the real top performing today is done by teams, not individuals.
Organizations, then, have everything to gain from breeding and maintaining high-performing teams. In other words, it is about time we started talking about talented teams. My prediction is that many organizations, not least professional service firms, will spend considerable time in 2017 rethinking aspects like incentive systems, assessments of potential, and development opportunities in order to better account for the team level.