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The top traits associated with talent

Top performers should be considered an “essential ingredient” for business success, according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London (UCL).

Speaking at a recent HBRLIVE: How To Measure Talent event, Chamorro-Premuzic, who is also CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems and a visiting professor at Columbia University, considered the future of talent identification through profiling and technology.

Chamorro-Premuzic said that the 80:20 rule can be applied to talent. A common application of this rule is within sales where it is often said that 80% of a company's sales are generated by 20% of its sales staff, and 80% of a company's profits come from 20% of employee activity.

“This is a very simple rule to define talent,” said Chamorro-Premuzic, explaining that for most companies 20% of the workforce will fit the category of ‘talent’, and that firms need to identify which employees these are. “The probability of one individual being in that 20% of talent is not the same for another individual,” he said.

Chamorro-Premuzic identified three ways of quantifying talent.
1) Talent is the ‘best you can do’.
2) Talent is ‘performance minus effort’.
3) Talent is ‘personality in the right place’.

“When you are assessing thousands of competencies a few things will emerge,” he added. “Is the person rewarding? Smart? Productive? Leader-like? Entrepreneurial? These are the five traits we associate with talent.”

The impact of technology in identifying talent was also discussed. Chamorro-Premuzic pointed out that research shows 70% of people reach for their phone before reaching for their partner when they first wake up.

“This is now a reputation economy,” said Chamorro-Premuzic. “We all have an online footprint, and this is applicable to HR.

“You can tell a lot about someone from their ‘likes’ on Facebook. Liking pages such as ‘science’ and ‘Mozart’ is associated with having a higher IQ.”

However, Chamorro-Premuzic also warned that IQ indicators on social media might be unexpected. “The biggest predictor of a high IQ was liking a page about curly fries,” he said, citing research by Cambridge University that found a link between high intelligence and those who ‘liked’ thunderstorms, The Colbert Report, science and curly fries.