It’s the End of American Idol: I Won’t Downplay Its Impact


They’ve recently marked the end of the long-running show American Idol.

It was time.

However, it was more than the run-of-the-mill reality show. Its format augmented talent discovery by engaging us in the discovery process. A modern version of an old story we love to enjoy — the show allowed us to play a role in offering contestants the chance to change their lives and the face of music.

Some did.

How remarkable.

Whether you are still watching Idol today really isn’t important. (To be honest, I’ve opted to watch The Voice the last couple of years). It is the mechanism of talent identification that American Idol employed that mattered.

We have been exposed to artists (and genres of music) that we would have likely never experienced. At certain points during the show’s run,  I even became emotionally engaged with the process. (I stopped watching Season 3 after Jennifer Hudson was eliminated. Glad to see that she went on to meet her destiny.)

Yes, the process was far from perfect. However, we can learn from it. Moreover, I can’t help but think of how many talented contributors that function just under our radar, within our own organizations. How do we find them? How do we nurture their talent and align their gifts with organizational goals? How do we play an active role in that process?

The onus is upon us to do so.

I fear that much of what our contributors can bring, remains undiscovered. This because we haven’t developed the proper mechanisms to unlock their potential. That must change.

They deserve their moment.

How many moments are we missing?

Here is exactly to what I am referring. We might have missed this. Enough said.


What are you doing within your organization to identify and nurture talent? Share your strategies here.


Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and coach. She holds the role of Senior Consultant at Allied Talent and also serves as the Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors.

When it Comes to Talent the Right Team is Everything


When George Harrison auditioned as a guitarist for the Liverpool band The Quarrymen in 1958, he was only 14 years old. Joining the band some months later, his persona as the “younger” member of the band was quickly established. Remarkably, at this early stage of his career (with the soon-to-be Beatles) Harrison had not yet embarked upon his journey as a songwriter. As this skill evolved, his role within the dynamic of the Beatles would prove to be a long-standing challenge. Harrison’s tremendous gift for melody (penning such enduring classics as “My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Something” and “Beware of Darkness”) was somewhat impeded by the team environment in which he found himself. On some level — even with the enormous success of The Beatles — Harrison found himself on the wrong team.

The creative struggles that Harrison faced within a team environment are not uncommon. Harrison clearly benefited from his exposure to the talented group, before writing his first song around 1963. (Harrison never learned to read or write music — and didn’t regret that. He employed a “copyist”, as he termed it, to transcribe his melodies.) However, he struggled to gain a place for his music on Beatles’ albums, operating in the shadow of the prolific Lennon-McCartney machine. Reflecting upon Harrison’s contributions to Abbey Road, the last Beatles’ album, Author Peter Lavezzoli wrote: “Harrison would finally achieve equal songwriting status … with his two classic contributions to the final Beatles’ LP”.

Harrison forged relationships with other artists, including Bob Dylan, which offered him varied experiences that supported his creative growth. By the time The Beatles formally split in 1970, Harrison had already worked on other projects. In a 1971 interview, he revealed that he had a backlog of original songs, never recorded. (All Things Must Pass, originally a triple album, was also released in 1970.) Commenting on the break-up of the band, Harrison described the experience as a “relief” — a telling comment. (See the entire interview here.)

Talent alone will not ensure that an individual will excel to their fullest ability within a specific team. In the case of Harrison, he ultimately found alternative paths to pursue — but his actions were likely not without an emotional cost. Within our own organizations, leaders must become cognizant of factors which impact the success of individual players within a team.

What we might learn:

  • Consider the individual carefully. Talented individuals will run the gamut in terms of both personalities and communication styles. For example, an introverted yet highly gifted individual, may require guidance or support to find an equal voice on a team.
  • Monitor team dynamics. Collecting talent is one thing — nurturing how the contributors work together as a team, is another. Pay close attention to the dynamics within the group that could derail motivation and eventual success.
  • Offer “side” paths. Pay attention to developing skill sets of your team members over time. People evolve — and so should their work lives. As was the case with Harrison, his talent emerged over time, but was not fully recognized by the larger group. Be on point to discover these gifts, and offer them vehicles to explore them.
  • Monitor the “contract”. Although a team relationship may be prove successful — talented individuals still opt to leave, both physically and emotionally. (Harrison was barely present for the making of Sargent Pepper’s) Have conversations to establish the health of the psychological contract. Happy work life relationships, between employees and employers, are a two-way street.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, consultant and speaker. The Office Blend, has been recognized by Forbes as one of their “Top 100 Websites for Your Career” in both 2012 and 2013.

The Problem with That “Iffy” New Hire Could be You

Man Watering a PlantWe have all been there. You find yourself doing more than a million things — trying your best to meet all of your obligations, while staying ahead of the curve. Meanwhile, back in the office a member of your team (a key assistant for example) gives little notice and moves on to another role. Because of limited time at home base, you have to delegate some of the responsibility for sourcing and interviewing applicants to someone else. Clearly this is not an ideal situation. However, it is unavoidable.

A leading candidate emerges. Certainly, you have had the opportunity to review the resume and hatted briefly with the applicant. But, you haven’t had the opportunity to really probe the details face to face. The bottom line is that you are not entirely comfortable with the decision to hire — although you cannot really put your finger on the issue and form a credible objection. So, the decision is made and the individual is hired.

Time passes and you find the new hire in front of you, ready to be on-boarded onto your team. But, after a short time a glaring problem becomes obvious , and you suspect they are simply the wrong person for the role. Your mind begins to race forward to impending disaster.

What now? Are they relegated to the status of another “bad hire”? Will your team suffer?

You might find yourself secretly hoping their tenure with your organization is a short one. However, I would like to suggest another route. Challenge the “gut” feeling (which by the way could be off-base) and take the high road. Give them every possible opportunity to become a contributing member of your team. The costs of a “bad hire” can be sizable, not only in terms of lost effectiveness —but in lowered group morale. It is in your best interest (and that of your entire team) to salvage the hiring decision.

Here are some ideas to maximize the situation:

  • No grudges allowed. Examine your emotions in this situation and don’t let them cloud your better judgement. Put the brakes on your doubts immediately – a positive outcome never comes from a place of negativity.
  • Do not share your skepticism. Do not share your concerns to the rest of your staff — relay only your confidence in their new team member.
  • Make the vision crystal clear. Be sure the details about the “culture” of your work group are well communicated to the new hire.  Discuss group “mores” such as dress, meeting protocol and chain of command.
  • Take a deeper look at their skills. Gather all the information possible considering strengths and weaknesses. What can you emphasize that will make them an integral and productive contributor?
  • Train them. Don’t throw the new hire “to the dogs” without the proper know-how. Be sure they are prepped and properly trained to succeed.
  • Engage. Engaged employees are more productive. Ask them who they would like to become “work-wise’, through their new role. Let them know that you are there to help them grow and gain meaningful experience. Through this process there will be a higher probability of developing a bond with your new hire.

Not every talent decision is a clear success story right out of the gate. But we should make an effort to give each and every relationship a decent and fair chance to succeed.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist and coach. Connect with her and continue the conversation on Twitter and Linkedin.