June 16, 2014

The Blue Tie & The Scarf

Someone recently asked me about my innocent thoughts on identifying, developing and nurturing high potential talent. This led me to think about the reward & recognition in my school days at 'Delhi Public School R K Puram' from where I passed out 10 years back.

Every student who passed their academic year with 80% & above were awarded a scholar badge which they could proudly display on their green colored school blazer. Winning 3 scholar badges or more meant we did not have to go to our parents to ask for a blazer as the school awarded us with a Blue Blazer. Few more years of academic excellence meant a Blue Tie and then came Gold Medal.

Going by the above Reward & Recognition model, there were three categories of students by class 12th:

1. Those who waited for Winter: These were students who wore the Scholar Badge on their Blazers or received the Blue Blazers from School. Essentially they had to wait for the winter for the same so that they could proudly display their reward.

2. Those who did not have to wait for any season: These were the students who wore the Blue Tie and Gold Medal. They could wear the same (Not the Gold medal though!) throughout the year and some of us like me aspired to be like them.

3. Those who kept waiting: These were students like me who did not achieve the academic excellence which they desired as they did not go the extra mile to achieve it.

Let me make an attempt to find two key features of this R & R model:

1.     Focus on right behavior: It focused not only on ‘excellence’ in academics but it focused on the right behavior which is ‘Consistency’, ‘Focus’ &  ‘Patience’ as the reward got better with sustained  excellence. Two consecutive years of academic excellence meant another Scholar Badge and not anything better which lead to the student to imbibe the value of ‘patience’ along with excellence to achieve better rewards like Blue Blazer/Blue Tie/Gold Medal. In this age where there is a hunger for ‘visibility’, there is a need for sustained excellence along with ‘patience’. Those who missed out on these rewards got help from School in terms of remidial classes and students could seek help from teachers to which teachers were always willing to help.
2.     Clear Criteria: The criteria were clear and specific for the rewards ie 80% & beyond. Let the criteria for superior performance be clear so that its aspiring in nature driving right behavior & not be ambiguous leading to inaction & cynicism. While we secretly desired to earn the Blue Tie but we never had any ill & jealous feeling towards the ones who wore it. The blue tie did not elude us from them, it rather brought us closer to them as inspirations who could help us in improving our academic performance. 

Identification of High Potential employees can be a futile exercise. An organization should rather focus on creating a credible & transparent Reward & Recognition model.

The High Potential employees should get drawn towards the R&R model of the organization and it would become very easy to filter the High Potential employees from the High Performing employees. High Performing associates needs to get rewarded and the High Potential associates need to get recognized.

The above bit which has been posted is about ‘Identifying’ High Potential talent ( Being better known as HIPO).

Now lets focus on the ‘Developing’ & ‘Nurturing’ bit of High Potential talent. While I worked for close to 4 years in HR and had experienced the same with depth, I am very new to Learning & Development profession so I would reserve my thoughts on ‘Development’ & ‘Nurturing’ for a future course of time.

However, I will leave you with a question.

Is there a need to ‘develop’ a talent when you can ‘nurture’ them?

A leader in my organization introduced me to a theory called ‘SCARF’ model by David Rock. Seek the help of professor google and ‘figure it out yourself’. It might help you to frame a ‘Nurturing’ model for the organization.

Also can your organization create a story which can inspire you even after 10 years the way my school inspired me?