Australia’s got no talent*

Australia’s got no talent*

*Or doesn’t know how to find or nurture it.

I recently met former PM John Howard at CEO Magazine’s annual Executive Conference. When I told him I worked in talent management he asked me if Australia has any talent. I told him no. Why? Because this is what I get told every day by the employers I meet and with news headlines like ‘War for talent’ and ‘Gen Y irresponsible and unreliable’ adding fuel to the fire, it’s no surprise this is the commonly held perception. 

More than one third of Australian employers are looking overseas for talent – you just need to look at the head honchos of some of Australia’s major retailers to see this. However as Kevin Wheeler of the Future of Talent Institute argues, if there’s such a talent shortage then why aren’t we seeing dramatic wage rises or significant investment in training? I would have to agree. 

There is talent in Australia and plenty of it, but it’s often not recognised. Organisations simply aren’t looking hard enough or in the right places and don’t have the time or know-how to truly nurture Australia’s talent potential. 

The perception that talent is only talent if they have the same experience in the same industry, leaves business leaders pursuing the risk-free perfect fit. Consequently, the failure to look beyond the “17” hygiene factors of employment criteria leaves a reduced talent pool where only the mediocre, bland and beige get through – leaving diversity of background and experience unconsidered. 

With increasingly lean businesses, there’s little time or resources to teach or mentor talent. However to retain the brightest stars, leaders need to learn how to nurture talent and spend more time doing it. Businesses need to stop using three-month probationary periods as an assessment of perfect fit and instead see it as the chance to identify opportunities and training needs. 

Unless businesses start viewing potential differently and nurturing the talent they have, they will continue to perpetuate the sadly misguided belief that talent in Australia doesn’t exist.