I recently got an inquiry from the brilliant Bret Silverberg, a Monster.com writer who never stops probing the tough questions. What Bret asked me sounded simple at the outset. What exactly is talent and how should we define it?
A talent is a natural aptitude or skill. Talent in the plural is an HR term referring to a population of employees. Bret wanted to know if it could be learned.
Personally, I feel that a talent is at least somewhat natural, although you have to practice to refine it. Skills, however, can usually be learned from scratch and most workplace tasks involve skills rather than talents.
The unique role of talent
It’s a rare situation in which someone doesn’t have enough talent for a job. An example of this would be a job as a professional singer. If you are tone deaf, you simply don’t have the talent to do this job. Period. But in most professional jobs, you need to know things like how to use a software program, how to give a speech in public, and how to create a budget. Most people can learn these.
Of course, there’s always an exception. I would say that if you have tried through formal and informal means to learn the skills associated with a job and just can’t get the hang of doing them proficiently, then there may be a talent issue. For instance, if you are an extreme introvert in a sales position, you can practice engaging in charismatic banter 24/7, but you may not have the interpersonal talent to close deals.
For the rest of the post, head over to Intuit's Fast Track blog.