In theory ... Who are your best people?

Emma De Vita's weekly look at management-speak.

It's no shock that charities don't have much spare cash (especially if they've been banking with the Icelanders). Unlike private sector companies, third sector organisations don't have thousands to spend on 'talent management'. You can't run fancy recruitment campaigns to bring in high-fliers - not that you'd need to, anyway. Charity employees work for love, not money.

Third sector managers will therefore appreciate the management theory behind the recently published Who Are Your Best People? by Robin Stuart-Kotze and Chris Dunn. They argue that organisations have become obsessed with a phantom 'war for talent', erroneously believing that talented workers are in short supply. Instead, the book says, they should concentrate on making the most of the people they have already. Too many managers miss the talent right under their noses.

Each job comes with its own behaviour specifications. Some jobs will require a high level of speedy attention to detail; others demand thoughtful analysis. If you can identify the skills each job requires and match it to a person who has those skills, you're sorted.

Simple, you might say - until you scan your team and realise that job behaviour and people behaviour aren't matched in any role. What to do? First, examine your own behaviour. Are you a toxic manager or a good manager? If you're the former, consider an alternative career. If you're the latter, try asking your staff what they like doing and see if you can tweak their jobs to match.

- Emma De Vita is editor of the books pages on Management Today.

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