Until tonight, I’ve never seen a lightning storm from above the clouds. I’m not sure what percentage of lightning strikes actually are visible below the clouds, but this storm over Texas that I’m watching has a few lightning bolts per second all localized in a small area over the course of the last 5 minutes that we’ve been flying by it. It’s pretty amazing to see this many lightning bolts for such a continuous period of time, and thinking about the total amount of electricity being generated is mind boggling.
Nobody really knows how lightning is formed, but the current theory is that as water molecules evaporate and float upwards into the sky, these miniscule water particles sometimes “rub up” against each other and trade electrons, thus forming electrical charges. As this happens millions upon millions of times, and these water particles all make their way up into the clouds, eventually some event happens where the energy is released and a lightning bold is formed.
It’s pretty crazy to think that a couple of water molecules rubbing up against each other on their way up to forming a cloud is what triggers the release of a several million volt lightning strike, but it’s possible that is the root cause. It does not take much, but the same thing is true with talent management. HR spends a lot of time these days managing talent, producing knowledge, skills and competencies, and ensuring growth in our employees.
Every employee gets a set of goals every year, so there are thousands of these. We measure all sorts of leadership, behavioral and technical competencies on our employees. There may be separate performance guidelines like MBO’s. Incentive compensation may have their own set of requirements that employees are measured against. I’m hoping your environment is not this complex, but suffice to say that we track a lot of seemingly insignificant attributes against a lot of employees.
At the same time, employees are interacting with each other, hopefully connecting in our enterprise social networks, and collaborating and learning through content they are generating. All of this just creates thousands more small particulate interactions that we don’t even see or measure. We have no idea which one of those advances is going to be the one that triggers the next major innovation or the next big sale. What we do know is that we work on individual transactions that on a singular level, we can’t quite trace to these huge events.
At an aggregate level, we know that these particles create clouds and rain, so we can measure the cause and effect. However, every once in a while, a lightning bolt hits, and when it does, we should not only celebrate the organization and it’s achievements, but we should also know that somehow, the root cause was the effort we put into managing our talent.