The talent obsessed are companies like GE, IBM, and Procter and Gamble who really know their people: what strengths they have, what they value as an individual, their personalities, and what drove them to their achievements. Their obsession in understanding and developing their people has brought their organizations a higher level of success than many of their competitors.

Many of you reading this are thinking, “I don’t have the resources that an IBM has”.  “How can our company manage our talent like a Fortune 500 company?” The answer is by focusing on the important and not the urgent and taking a longer term view of your company’s human capital resources.

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Here are four steps to starting on the road to becoming talent obsessed:

1. As a leader, take ownership for the development of your employees. Incorporate learning into your regular staff meetings. Delegate the learning process to your team members so that everyone is involved in the process. Be on the look out for best practices that individuals possess and have them share with their team mates. This is a great development opportunity for both the presenter and other team members.

2. Make development of employees a critical success factor for all managers within your company.  Employee development should be a significant factor in performance reviews for managers.  One great way for managers to develop others is through coaching. And if managers don’t have the coaching skills, provide them with training and become a coaching role model to them.

3. Peel back the onion and ask a lot of  quality questions to understand how a person achieved their results. The more questions you ask, the clearer you will understand the skills and talent an employee possesses.  If you identify a skill the employee has that you weren’t aware of, figure out ways that the employee can build on this skill.  This may include delegating something on your plate, or assigning her to a new project.

4. Ask others who were working with or around the individual for their feedback. Structure the questions based on what you learned in step 3, while also asking questions that can broaden your knowledge of the employee’s core talent.

Once you have gained enough knowledge of the employee’s core skills and strengths, start looking at your organization’s needs in the next 12-18 months.  Are there upcoming projects in other parts of the organization, where this employee’s talents can shine? Is there an opportunity that will stretch the person to a higher level of mastery in that talent, or will it be too much of a stretch that could frustrate him?

To become talent obsessed, the focus needs to come from the top.  Those companies who have a long term commitment to the talent inside their company will see greater long term business results because their employees will have reached their true potential and be fully engaged.