Posted by: Canadian HR Solutions Inc. | July 8, 2011

Talent Portability: Will Newly Hired Stars Continue to Perform Well?

“Talent” is still the rallying cry of hiring managers and CEOs everywhere.  The belief is that such individuals are a key source of competitive advantage.  And, past research is clear on the benefits of high-performing workers, frequently referred to as “stars”.

But reaping the benefits of stars is not as simple as it seems.   How can leaders guarantee that stars will continue to perform well?  And, what about their future tenure with the organization – will they stay long enough to make the company’s investment worthwhile?

In actuality, stars may not be as portable as they – and the companies that woo them – might think.  The issue of portability is complex and multifaceted.  Organizational leaders need to think strategically about why workers’ talent is portable and some is not.

In the early 1960s economist Gary Becker identified two types of human capital: general skills, which have potential value to more than one employer, and company-specific skills, which are useful to only a single employer.

General human capital raises portability and company-specific capital erodes it.  Skills ordered from most to least portable are general management (skills, knowledge and traits required to lead entire organizations, units or divisions), strategic (specific experience in cost cutting, driving growth, rightsizing, and so on), industry-specific (skills and training useful in one industry but not in others), relationship (interpersonal  relationships within a company) and company-specific (knowledge of an organization’s routines and procedures).

To assess portability of the skills of a candidate for a success in a particular role, organizational leaders need to gain clarity on the following questions:

  • Does the role rely extensively on teamwork?
  • Will the candidate require sponsorship or buy-in from colleagues or other in order to take action and be effective?
  • Will the person be engaged in knowledge sharing?
  • Does the role require that the person be reliant complementary functions or departments?
  • Is the role primarily engaged in external relationships with customers, suppliers, partners or others?
  • Does much of the value of the role come from unique capabilities, team building, an understanding of workplace culture or other intangible qualities?

by Caroline Cole, Practice Leader, Canadian HR Solutions, Inc.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: