In the much-touted war for talent, we often forget to look inside our organisations and realise the potential we have — until the moment we get that resignation across our desks. And at that point, it’s far too late. What can and should you be doing to make sure that those moments are few and far between?
Here are seven things you can start doing tomorrow that will not only attract the best talent, but will also make sure the best people in your organisation stay happy, motivated and (most importantly) with you.
1. Know your talent.
The first step to talent retention is talent identification. It sounds simple, but it is the area where most organisations fall down. Most talent identification processes merely skim the surface. They’re short term, risk adverse and highly subjective. How can you retain what you cannot see? Identify your future workforce needs and think about your skills shortages: This is about the future as well as the now.
2. Take risks.
When you take someone and place them in a genuine stretch assignment, you not only motivate them — you motivate everyone around them. Take a few risks, appoint people before they’re 100 per cent ready, and back yourself to make the right choices. Demonstrate that talent really does progress around here and that success is rewarded quickly.
3. Break pay structures.
Most organisational pay structures reward longevity and external experience. This means if they’re home grown talent, they’re probably being paid under the market rate. If they want to get a big raise, they’ll need to leave. You’re going to have to break some of those internal mechanisms if you really want to retain your top talent. Time to crack open the piggy bank.
4. Recruit the best.
When you do get the opportunity to bring someone new in, make it a great hire. There’s nothing more motivational than seeing good people come in to an already great organisation. A little bit of healthy competition never goes amiss, and mixing up the talent pool should create a positive, productive tension.
5. Manage underperformance.
Why would you hang around in an organisation that tolerates mediocrity, or even worse — underperformance? The message you send out when you knowingly tolerate below-the-line performance is that it is OK. Talented people want to work with talented people, and they want to work in an organisation that recognises that. It’s time to deal with those perennial issues.
6. Get personal.
There’s a fine line between creating a bunch of prima donnas and being up close and personal with your talent. But you’re going to have to tread that line. Personal treatment, personal relationships and personal career management: All of these factors will help your talented individuals feel more valued. Just make sure you don’t overdo it: Nobody needs a screaming diva.
7. Leave them alone.
Show you care in actions, not processes. There are only so many talent reviews, box models and succession planning tools that any individual can be subject to before they start to think you’re all talk and no walk. Talent retention is about action, not action plans. So next time you’re tempted to have a meeting to discuss talent, challenge yourself by asking what has actually happened since the last time you met. Have you spent more time doing than you have talking?
Neil’s HR career spans 20 years with some of the U.K.’s best known brands. He joined Random House in 2008 and worked as one of the main leads in helping to steer the merger between Random House and Penguin – the most significant merger in publishing history. He was named HR Director of the Year at the HR Excellence Awards 2013 and in 2014 was named second most influential HR practitioner in the U.K.
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