Something that deeply impacts both employers and employees is low expectation. For employers, it’s the sense that “I will have to settle for this person”, for employees: “I will have to settle for this job”.

Employers don’t expect they could ever find the people they really need, and employees are only too glad to get a job, even if it fits them like a (very ill-fitting) glove.

I would like to suggest that this is a) extremely sub-optimal and b) entirely unnecessary. There is no shortage of the right talent; what is missing is the means to identify talent, and match it with opportunity.

We now know that talent is not an innate thing that a few of us get and the rest have to do without; in fact the poster children of “innate talent”, Tiger Woods and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, prove this point nicely. Yes, Woods was hitting golf balls on TV before his 3rd birthday and Mozart was performing musical parlour tricks at a similar age. But in fact Woods had been playing seriously for over ten years before he ever beat his father (a reasonably good amateur) in a round, and Mozart had been working as a full-time musician for more than ten years before he ever wrote anything genuinely original.

So the question is not, “how come they got gifted?” but rather, “what on earth can drive anyone to spend ten years working away to master a particular domain?” And the answer is simple: motivation, engaging interest, passion.

The good news is that this is something every one of us has and can access. The bad news is that most of us only start thinking about what we’re really passionate about when we are 50 and many (though by no means all) of our opportunities are long gone.

“It’s no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying, ‘Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.’ By then, pigs will be your style.” – Quentin Crisp

We have a particular perspective on this at Elaura. That is because our data-driven programmes are backed up by a nearly-70 year research programme by Birkman International. Thanks to this, we know that motivation (and its absence, especially) are the items which are most consistently predictive of success or failure for an individual in a specific role.

Using the Birkman Questionnaire, we can measure motivation, very, very accurately; and those readings once made, are very stable over time, even for teenagers and young adults.

However, motivation – though necessary – is not by itself sufficient for the prediction of where talent will be developed.

That is because the second part of the equation is about equipping the individual to understand themselves well enough that they can see and manage the issues which would otherwise become derailers for them. There is nothing worse – or possibly, more common – than seeing someone who is, in fact, well-aligned with their motivations and passions, but who lacks the self-knowledge to keep themselves from self-defeating behaviours.

Of course, this is the second part of the proposition we deliver on, through our programmes; helping people to understand not only who they think they are, but also who they really are, and what the implications are, thereof.

Do those two things – identify motivation and bring actionable self-knowledge – and you have a person who knows where they want to be working, and can be evaluated against a particular opening.

Employers can have the person they really need, and employees can have the job they want, right now and not in their regrets.