[LTR] With all the talk about the shortage of talented people in our corporations today, why are we not recognizing those already in our midst? According to experts in the field of hiring, training and development, there is great potential within our very own companies. It just needs talent recognition.

The difficult part, as I have seen many times before, is the lack of ability to identify latent talent already among our employees who aren't usually responsible for management duties yet.

That's the problem in the majority of business establishments - we just don't recognize who we have. Why? Because we simply don't make it a point to get to know our people. And getting to know our people is not hard to do -- just talk to them!

But we don't. We don't stop and ask questions. We pass by their office pods or brush by them in the hallways, hastily saying "Good morning" but not stopping. What happened to the old MBWA (Managing By Walking Around)? We may even add "How's it going?" but we rush on because we really don't want to get into that.

In the cafeteria, we make sure the conversations stay on light pleasantries (or we don't even set foot in that area at all either); and at the company picnic or Christmas party, we stroll around without initiating any serious get-to-know conversation, taking advantage of the occasion. We say we need social activities in order to provide opportunities to know one another better but when we have them, we still don't communicate with purpose.

Some companies who have awakened (sort-of) to this common corporate shortcoming, implemented "Talent Development Programs". But that is going about it in the wrong way. Why do we always think that everybody needs to be "developed".

What we really need are "Talent Recognition Programs". We need to train ourselves (the enemy is us) to take the time to recognize whom we have among those currently involved in those positions not responsible yet for management duties. We need to recognize them and move them up the ladder.

In the downsizing and cut backs of the last couple of decade, scores of qualified, skilled individuals have had to take on jobs many levels below their business capabilities and experiences. Many of them have operated their own enterprises where they managed every aspect of business from executive to finance, sales, production, service, administration, personnel, etc. Every operational aspect, even if it was smaller than the present organization, was managed. Others have been downsized out of corporate management jobs that could not be replaced because of the bad economic times.

Once we see the light, what can we do? As top management -- including the president -- first we have to dig up their resumes again from the interviewer's forgotten files and look ourselves for the golden nuggets of talent recognition. Let's not leave these highly personal informational papers to die in the aftermath of the limited, tunnel-vision, H.R. or department supervisors' initial examination.

Then, let's read them ourselves, paying attention to the between-the-line cues and clues and let's talk to them. Really talk - asking the right questions from an intrapreneur to an entrepreneur. Forget about canned theories and letters. Then test with projects that the individual can work on in a short period of time - say a week, a month or three months. All with proper delegating and regular meetings. Then assess for talent recognition./dmh