THE BLOG
06/10/2011 11:34 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Want a Higher Performing Team? Act Like a Talent Agent

We all know how important it is to develop your people. Many companies place a premium on how effective you are in helping your people grow and may base part of your bonus on it.

But, what if your entire salary depended on your team's success? You would probably take a more proactive approach, similar to that of a talent agent.

Talent agents are always looking to promote their people. They know what their clients' special talents are and look for projects that will leverage those skills. They actively look for ways to develop their clients' careers because they have a vested interest in their success. It's pretty straightforward -- the client's success is the agent's success.

What if you applied the same philosophy to developing your team? What if you became a talent agent for each member of your team? You can, and here are some ways to put it into action:

Create a Brag File -- Keep a running file on each person's success. Agents are always ready in a moment's notice to speak to the successful track record of their clients. Not only will a brag file help you prepare during review time, it will also keep each person's accomplishments top of mind. If your boss asks about someone on your team, you can immediately rattle off an impressive list of achievements. That lets your boss know that you're plugged in to what each team member is doing, and also gives an endorsement to that person.

Grow Their Connections -- Agents have clients attend functions to meet key people in the industry. One way this can translate into your role as a talent manager is to encourage people on your team to build their own network -- internally and externally. In addition to having them work cross functional projects, some companies like Intuit allow their employees to attend most meetings within the company regardless of whether it involves their area. It gives them a chance to meet new people and expand their knowledge base to other areas of the company. To grow their network externally, have them take your place at conferences and events. The more people they meet, the more resources they'll have to get things done.

Promote Them to Your Boss's Boss -- Talent agents work the system many rungs up the ladder. It's great if your boss knows about people on your team but they may not take the next step and tell their boss how great these individuals are. There are multiple benefits to this: it gives you an easy talking point two levels up; it helps your boss's boss be better informed about people who they may not have regular exposure to; it positions you as a leader because you're focused on your team and it helps raise the profiles of the individuals you discuss with senior management.

Play To Their Strengths -- Sports has long recognized the need to play to an individual's strengths. In baseball the pitcher doesn't spend spring training trying to learn how to be a better batter. They focus on what they do best -- pitch. In the same way, utilize the strengths of each person on your team. Know what they do best and look for ways to capitalize on it.

Give Them Something New -- As a talent agent you're always looking for projects that might be exciting for your client and which could also represent a growth opportunity. As a good manager, you always want to be exploring new avenues for your people. Companies benefit when an individual brings a fresh perspective to something. In addition, your team member will be invigorated by a new challenge.

There has never been a better time to learn from what has been incredibly successful in Hollywood -- consistently develop and promote your talent. This will help their career grow and yours as well.

Fred & Gladys
Whelan Stone
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success