What HR can learn from Ed Sheeran

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Ed Sheeran is no stranger to awards and without a doubt is one of the most successful British musicians of his time.

But he claims he wasn’t born with talent. In an interview with Jonathan Ross the singer/songwriter says: “When people say artists are born with talent, you’re not. You have to really learn and really practice.” At this, Sheeran then went on to play a recording of him singing badly from when he was younger.

HR and L&D professionals can learn from this example when managing their own talent. It is a clear indicator that through development anyone can be a top performer.

Speaking exclusively to HR Grapevine, Paul Brewerton, Joint Managing Director, Strengths Partnership, says that this presents two challenges for employers. “Firstly, identifying employees’ true talents can be tricky, particularly when the employee themselves doesn’t recognise their talent – often people take their talents for granted.

“So it is up to employers to ‘talent spot’ effectively, noticing when an employee demonstrates a natural aptitude for a particular task or role and exploring it when them, finding out whether it is something they enjoy as well as being a natural area of strength for them, and explaining how developing this area could drive value for the organisation.”

But once you find these ‘diamonds in the rough’ it is then about polishing them. Brewerton explains: “Employers who identify such talents in their workforce need to put in the effort to provide the right level of coaching, mentoring, training and support to help the employee develop skills in this area – to ‘stretch their strengths’ if you like – and this takes investment in time and resource, as well as patience. So expecting an employee to develop excellence in an area of talent in a few weeks or even months may lead to frustration on both sides.

“Taking a more considered approach and putting together a realistic development plan based on stretching strengths and talents is more likely to yield dividends in the long-term.”