Quit Outsourcing the Work of Finding and Developing Talent

Too many managers outsource the hard work of finding the right talent. Almost all of them outsource the even harder work of developing talent.

You might as well outsource breathing.

No wonder managers get a bad name in our culture, particularly in the ridiculous debate of manager versus leader perpetuated by people who neither mange nor lead.

Effective managers understand the connection between talent and success. Finding, developing and keeping talent is an every day, every encounter activity. It is all verb phrasing punctuated by ample observation.

They wake up worrying about finding talent and they go to sleep thinking about developing talent. During the day, they do it.

Effective managers understand that the right talent comes in many forms from many places, but definitely not as the outcome of a bureaucratic process that generates bloated position descriptions and half-assed screening processes.

The manager who waits for H.R. to generate talent is either lazy or incompetent. The H.R. manager who professes to own talent recruitment or development is naïve or narcissistic, or both.

And while outside training has a place in the development of talent—these managers who lead and manage—understand training for what it is: exposure to ideas and tools. The opportunity for real learning takes place in the workplace under the watchful eye of a manager fully invested in coaching team members.

In reality, most managers are not blocked on taking ownership of these important talent issues—they simply have not recognized what it means to be an owner. Most H.R. professionals prefer to have managers deeply engaged in the processes. To their credit, they recognize the importance of this work to the manager’s and the firm’s success.

Quit perpetuating your own or your organization’s malaise over talent and step up to your responsibility for this critical set of activities. Then, watch engagement increase, performance rise and the pursuit of excellence emerge. You might just make the work of the manager relevant again.

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By |2017-06-10T11:43:37+00:00June 13th, 2016|Art of Managing, Leadership|3 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. Dorothy Dalton June 13, 2016 at 7:29 am - Reply

    Hi Art – most hiring managers don’t have the skills necessary to identify talent, which is why they outsource it whether via external searches to bring in new blood or assessment. If the skill up and learn to manage their biases – things might change – but that means significant investment.

    • Art Petty June 13, 2016 at 7:35 am - Reply

      Hi Dororthy! I love seeing your name pop up here. Thanks for reading and commenting. The issue starts with senior management tolerating a management culture that lacks the skills to do what you describe. Managers must be taught by their managers and the other skilled professionals and then held accountable to not only doing the heavy lifting but teaching their charges. Most professionals are unable to do the hard work of strategy until they cultivate experience. Improvement has to start with the manager and her manager accepting their obligation and striving to own this critical work. -Art

  2. […] Art Petty rants abut managers who don’t take on the responsibility to identify and develop talent. […]

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