Additional Training Does Not Fix a “Talent Void”

“They could do it if they really wanted to,” is a common expression of managers who are frustrated with a weak performer.

However, haphazard performance more likely represents a talent void and not a paucity of desire.

I often ask workshop participants to list examples of basic job tasks—responding to inquiries, recording expenditures, coding for compliance, and the like.  Then I ask, “Do you recall an experience with a team member who could not reliably perform a simple task after being fully trained?” 

Participants quickly list numerous examples of performance failures. “Why do you think they failed to perform?” I ask.  Seldom do I hear, “They were incapable of learning the skill.”

From early childhood, must of us have heard, “In this country, you can be anything you want to be.”  And we hear numerous inspirational stories of elongated struggles resulting in dramatic accomplishments by seemingly ordinary people.    

However, the hard reality is that even the most basic tasks in the workplace require some level of talent—inborn abilities—for skill development.  Inability to perform after reasonable training and experience is evidence of lack of talent and not lack of will.  Job redesign, transfer or termination may be the answer; continued training is not.

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