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7 Talent Development Fallacies to Forswear Forever

Thursday, January 22, 2015
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You see it happening before your eyes: The old “Command and Control” culture is disappearing. In some organizations, it’s already a goner. 

But old ideas have a sneaky way of hanging on. You may hear people give voice to one or more of the seven talent development fallacies below. But you know that to stay in the game, you need to speak up about new business strategies and new skills that are needed to work together. 

Be on the lookout for these misconceptions at your organization, and be ready to take a stand in support of the new network-oriented workplace. Teach the people you work with that in this new environment, people need skills to help them connect, converse, and collaborate—face to face, not just on the Internet! That’s the way things get done, innovation happens, employees get more engaged, and businesses stay competitive.   

Fallacy #1: Our People Already Know How to Network 

Really? I wouldn’t be so sure. When 549 people from all walks of life took our Networking Competency Assessment, their employers were shocked. Here’s the results: 

  • 32 percent: “I know exactly who I need to have in my network.”
  • 39 percent: “I know the next step to take to make any relationship more useful.”
  • 39 percent: “I know questions to ask that will move the relationship forward.”
  • 41 percent: “I tell stories that teach about my team’s or my organization’s capabilities.” 

Fallacy #2: Nobody Can Learn How to Network—You Either Have It or You Don’t 

Not so. Networkers are made, not born. Contacts Count’s client research shows that only about 20 percent of people are “natural networkers.” We have identified eight competencies that outline a multitude of skills. More important, anyone can learn.

Fallacy #3: Everyone’s Connected—Look at All the Money We’ve Spent on Social Media 

Good! But that’s like saying, “I have a phone, so I have lots of friends.” Having the ability to connect electronically is not the same as knowing how to build trust-based relationships that spark innovation and get things done. Even in this electronic age, training programs need to focus on the face value of face-to-face contact whenever possible.   

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Fallacy #4: Networking Is Expensive, And All That Socializing Brings Very Little Real Value

Not so. Ben Waber a visiting scientist at MIT reports that, “Employees who ate at cafeteria tables designed for 12 were more productive than those at tables for four, thanks to more chance conversations and larger social networks.” Imagine what happens when people are actually taught how to make conversations even more productive. Value soars. 

Fallacy #5: Collaboration and Networking Are the Same Thing 

Not quite. Networking skills are the tools and strategies people need to build the kind of trust that leads to collaboration. When you trust someone it means you’ve decided there’s very little risk in relating to them—and the work can get done. 

Fallacy #6: We’ve Told All of Our People to Collaborate 

Sorry! It’s takes more than a decree from above to create a culture of collaboration. Savvy organizations get rid of the disincentives and roadblocks. And they put into place the systems, policies, procedures that will develop, encourage, and support collaboration. 

Fallacy #7: You Can’t Expect Our “Specialists” to Develop Business 

You’ve heard it before: “Why do you expect our CPAs (attorneys, engineers, program managers?) to develop business? That’s why we have a marketing department.” Time to give up that outdated idea! 

In this competitive world, business development is everybody’s business, no matter what their function or level within the company. As one CEO told us, “I want everybody who works here to be our ambassadors in casual conversations with their neighbors, cousins, or dentists. You can’t buy that kind of visibility in a million ads.” 

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About the Author

Lynne Waymon is a thought leader in the field of business networking and the CEO of Contacts Count, an international training firm that specializes in helping organizations create collaborative cultures for the network-oriented workplace. She also co-authored Strategic Connections: The New Face of Networking in a Collaborative World.

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