The following situation is not uncommon in most organizations: two people can work on the same line, produce the same product, they went through the same training, and yet, their performance varies significantly. The obvious explanation for this difference in performance is that one person is more talented than the other. The problem with this explanation is that there isn’t much to do with it: talent is a given so it cannot be influenced in any practical way, and there always will be a distribution of ability even in the most picked teams.
I would like to propose a different term instead of talent we should be focused on. I think we should be talking about a set of Personal Skills, which could be improved as any skill set. A personal skill is different from a job-specific skill in the fact that it could be applied to many different working environments and tasks, because it is much more general in its scope. There are many obvious personal skills that people already know they should train for, such as time–management, self–organization and ability to focus, while others, such as bias control, streamlining and facilitation are only entering our awareness. Most social skills also belong to the personal type.
While we all start with all those skills at certain level, we can actually improve them by training. I’m not saying you don’t need to train your specific job-related skills, you do; but having developed personal skills will put you one notch above all others with similar job-related training.
And when the company is experiencing hard times and people are laid-off, this small advantage has a very practical meaning…