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Discovering hidden talent within the organization


Here in this space we have talked at length on the trends and tools for managing talent effectively, on how it is absolutely vital for a company in today’s global and competitive environment.

On May 22nd, I took the opportunity to attend the first edition of the HUMAN FACTOR conference organized by the IFAES Group. The explanatory title “Identify hidden talent” of one of the talks addressed just that. The title itself already aroused my interest greatly. It is true that organizations generally focus their efforts on finding the best talent outside the organization, on delivering excellence with human capital skilled in today’s general competencies. But what happens within our organization when we have enormous talent that isn’t very visible? People who are experts and competent at their jobs—how do we compensate them? And more than anything else, how do we retain them?

With Santiago Puebla, CEO of Futurskill as mediator, HR managers from various organizations discussed this aspect of talent management: Adela Luis Piedra-Yague, Head of Human Resources Italy & Iberia at Thomson-Reuters; Luis Manuel Gonzalez, HR Director at Roche Pharma; Carmina Guitard, Director of Talent Management at Orange and Raquel Merino Sanchez, Manager of Talent Management and Development for the VIPS Group.

This panel addressed topics like generational change within the organization, whose task is it to search and enhance this hidden talent, and what are the processes and mechanisms for this.

We tried to shed light on these issues, and the attendees were in particular invited to reflect upon these. We listened with great care to the well-founded opinions of these attendees drawing from their experience. That’s why I would like to share the report on this talk with you, and in a similar manner, encourage you to think about this too.

Talent and generational change

The latest report on trends by Bersin (Bersin, Global Human Capital Trends 2014) determined that the current workforce is the most “multigenerational” of all times. The so-called millennials represent a generation with high ambitions and deep knowledge of the new technologies. Baby boomers for their part belong to a more veteran generation. Even though some of the members have already withdrawn from the labour market, many others are refusing to do so, creating a highly committed workforce.

Is talent the same as potential? While millennials stand out for their mastery of digital tools, the older and more experienced workers may be potential members of the “Senior Talent” pool. These are people whose work goes unnoticed in the organization, while at the same time of great value.

In these unique times, with such a diverse workforce, it is really difficult to spot true talent. Before going into developing methods for identifying hidden talent, it’s essential to understand that both junior and senior talent are vital. Carmina Guitard, Director of Talent Management at Orange reminds us that it is vital to “cultivate the new; maintain the reliability of old hands.”

It’s important not to ignore this reality: senior talent probably has just as much value as juniors do. Such talent has prospects for playing a key role in connection with this new generation joining the company and brings added value to its potential: the role of a mentor.

Setting the scene

Who is responsible for making this talent bloom? It seems obvious this is a task for the company. For this to happen, the organization has to create several conditions according to Luis Manuel González, HR Director at Roche Pharma. These are:

1. A talent management culture must be in place.

2. Ability to identify talent generally, and at this point the key question surfaces: what is high potential talent for each organization?

3. There must be a configured process and methodologies for this.

4. Technology is crucial; some good evaluation and performance measurement techniques will help us to single out talent, especially junior talent. It is essential that senior talent know how to analyze performance records.

Once these conditions are in place, it is important to remember, just as Carmina Guitard from Orange says, “Talent is not just an HR issue; it is also one for managers. There must be a joint effort.”


Ultimately think of ways to bring out this hidden talent:

As already discussed in the previous point, HR must set down the talent management policy with all that it entails. To go a step further, it is possible to use techniques like creating talent pools within the organization itself as Raquel Merino Sánchez, Manager of Talent Development and Management for the VIPS Group, points out. In this case, the HR department would be the one to create and access this pool, and to use it when there are vacancies,

The manager must also get involved in the process. Certain questions arise at this point. How can a manager spot the talent of someone in one specific area and be able to share it with the organization? Do we have managers primed to understand talent within this multigenerational environment?

Closely linked to this idea of engaging the manager is the third element of this talent spotting process: the employee himself who is developing his career. It is important to understand that we are talking about working together. Self-development is a complex task and the employee will need the manager’s help to make his talent count within the organization.

The manager is the one who has to set the example for talent to bloom; this is one of his responsibilities. According to Adela Luis Piedra-Yague, Head of Human Resources Italy & Iberia, at Thomson-Reuters, “The main responsibility of a manager is to make his team progress. People should not be afraid to talk; the culture for feedback must be promoted.”

By Irene Giménez, Content Management Specialist


Editorial HR

Meta4, with 1,300 customers in 100 countries, manages more than 18 million people worldwide. The company’s R&D&I center located in Spain (Madrid) develops HR applications capable of meeting local and global needs of all types of organizations. The editorial team is made up of professionals with over 15 years of experience in the HR technology field.

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