Current circumstances shifted managerial practices in ways considered heretical or unimaginable at the beginning of the decade. Many now see the inherent value, worth, and productivity arising from remote or work-from-anywhere locations. And, astute managers raise awareness and vary approaches in responding to the challenges of the new normal.
Keeping top talent is critical to innovation, prosperity, and survival. Top talent works on the next big promise for your customers, fueling growth and profit. One thing that hasn’t changed with the new normal is the persistent challenge of engaging the next generation of leaders for your organization.
Common to most regrettable talent loss are shortcomings in our abilities to talk about careers and work. The short of it is, it’s not easy to have meaningful career discussions with your boss. Because authority and control influence career discussions, developing skills in keeping top talent is essential.
It’s increasingly easier for top performers to take a call with a recruiter or other search professional in today’s environment. If managers and people leaders aren’t having stay conversations with top talent, ambitious search professionals step in to fill a void, profiting handsomely from managerial and organizational inaction.
If you want to make a difference in stemming the tide of talent departures, this checklist will help you deal with uncertainty in today’s turbulent markets.
1. Be honest and transparent. Share what you can when you can. There is no such thing as a secret in organizational life.
2. Acknowledge the person in front of you. This person has interests outside of work. Remember that.
3. Don’t wait until something happens or a date on the calendar. There is power in timely feedback.
4. Feedback says more about you than the receiver. My mentors, Charlie Seashore and Edie Seashore, shared this insight gained from their pioneering years in the group dynamics movement.
5. Don’t offer more money when talent has announced a resignation intent. Sure, it helps, and it might keep some. However, when you reach this level of discussion, the rewarding opportunity has already passed. This is ransomware.
6. Leave them alone. Everyone has varying needs for autonomy. The key is to get out of the way of growth when it’s flourishing, blooming, or going through transitions.
7. Ignore item 6. Pay attention; don’t be nosey. Invite, include, and say hello at every opportunity. I’m astounded by how few people check in at the beginning of meetings. A nod, the shake of a head? We need to encourage ways to say hello to create inclusion and belonging.
8. Focus on strengths. Create reminders to develop strengths; it’s much more challenging to develop others’ strengths than eliminate their liabilities.
10. Discuss inches and yardsticks, or whatever measures are appropriate. Be frank about what results are expected, and your range of tolerance for deviation from those goals or standards.
11. Accept that people are in the process of developing. Take your lessons from cellular biology and apply them to the dynamic processes of growth and change.
12. Expect transitions and learning to be messy. Real learning is an anxiety-producing event, and people might be as likely to be raising anticipatory high-fives as they are to be mourning their losses.
13. Be present. Reduce distractions in conversation and create an environment of comfort. Forget all the techniques you’ve learned about authentic communication and be yourself. Get some feedback and profit from what you learned earlier. Be an original.
14. Make it personal. Engage people in your vision. Provide talent with opportunities to challenge ideas by engaging them in solutions and meaningful progress.
15. Realize when external assistance will help. Is it time for a coach? For some skip-level meetings?
16. Reflect on the opportunities you have withheld or given to those on your team. What are you learning about your managerial style?
17. Be accessible and approachable. Don’t be a “next Tuesday” type of person. Show up with genuine interest and clarify what you want and need.
18. When talent is performing in a new job or role, consider the value of customer and colleague feedback. Customer and colleague feedback is valuable at turning and transition points.
19. Let go of the past and embrace the future. Begin a new order. Everything between now and then is wishful thinking unless accompanied by action and reflection.
20. Ask talent about the offer they couldn’t refuse. How can you create that opportunity?
21. Be kind, generous, and encourage others. Our world is too small for the narrow-minded.
Thanks for sharing your comments, insights, and reflections!