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Hiring and Retaining Talent Critical to Ongoing Success

Saturday, October 1, 2016
EAST GREENWICH, RI—Successful organizations need to focus on both hiring and retaining talent across the organization in order to remain successful moving forward, according to The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC).

Act Like Employees are Your Most Valuable Asset

"Our best clients put a keen focus on retaining top talent," points out Lisa Anderson, known as The Manufacturing ConnectorSM and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., Claremont, CA. "No matter the market, those companies that retain top talent will be significantly better equipped to navigate whatever turbulence lies ahead and to take advantage of any opportunities that arise along the way.

"Since speed is critical to success, there is no time to delay as opportunities unfold. Thus, it is essential to retain and empower top talent who have the ability to pick up on these opportunities before the competition does and are willing to make quick decisions to best leverage the situation. There's no doubt that this is one of the most overlooked yet simple keys to success across every industry.

"Start by thinking about what would entice you to stay in your job. Tailor these needs to the individual needs of your employees. Start acting like your employees are your most valuable asset, and they'll live up to the challenge," she notes.

Create Talent Magnets

"At least one of your people is about to take the next flight out of your organization," says Roberta Matuson, President of Matuson Consulting and the author of Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best. "A recent CareerBuilder study found that 3 in 4 (75 percent) employees are either open to or are actively seeking new job opportunities. This is either good news for you or bad, depending on which side of the fence you are on."

"Here's what I shared with a group of senior executives during a recent keynote in Colombia on the topic of attracting top talent that will stick around," says Matuson. "It comes down to magnetic leadership, which I'm writing about in my new book, The Magnetic Leader. Magnetic leaders have a line of people waiting outside their door waiting to come work for them. This line rarely moves, because people usually don't leave these types of leaders."

Matuson goes on to say, "I've never subscribed to the theory that great leaders are born that way. I've transformed hundreds of leaders into talent magnets. With a team of talent magnets in place, it will be next to impossible for others to poach your talent."

Corporate Philanthropy Key to Retaining Talent

"Engaging talent in corporate philanthropy provides wins for the community, the nonprofit, and your firm, and these wins will help you to keep and recruit top talent." shares Karen Eber Davis, author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and president of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, a Sarasota, Florida firm that helps businesses obtain returns on their philanthropy.

"More than money, people seek meaning. Well-designed corporate philanthropy provides meaning in a way that strengthens corporate loyalty. Corporations stand in the enviable position of having the resources to create philanthropic projects that improve profits, engage employees, and distinguish the corporation in the market. Distinguished corporations find recruiting new talent easier," she said.

Great Talent Raises All Ships

"When my best clients talk about talent attraction, they are focused on people that bring up the level of energy of the whole organization," says Alan Willett, a leading expert in the business of technology and author of the forthcoming book, Leading the Unleadable.

"There are three key parts to their strategy. First, they are always looking ahead to identify critical skills that will be important in the future, focusing in on current areas of weakness.

"Second, investments are made in coaching and training to improve employees' skill levels to meet these future state needs.

"Third, in reviewing weak spots, they are aggressive in their investments. They will recruit top talents and hire expert consultants to ensure they are prepared for the next wave of innovation," Willett said.

Creating Culture Keeps Talent

Dr. Maynard Brusman, a consulting psychologist, executive coach, and emotional intelligence/mindful leadership expert, notes, "The ability to select, develop, and retain emotionally intelligent people in a culture where people are fully engaged and happy to work is critical to a company's success."

According to Dr. Brusman, "Here are three strategies to attract and retain the best talent in your industry. First, great companies and hiring managers start with change-resilient and committed people whose values fit the workplace culture. Next, keeping top talent involves creating a healthy work environment where people can use all of their knowledge, creativity, and skills. Third, self-managed organizations create positive work cultures based on trust and respect where people continuously learn, grow and advance their careers."

Dr. Brusman advises clients, "One of the most important ideas to consider for the future growth of an organization is to create a coaching culture."

Lack of Senior Opportunities Drives Women Away

Businesses can no longer afford to treat gender diversity as another box to be checked off when making a promotion, according to Roberta Guise, principal of marketing advisory firm Guise Marketing & PR.

"Research shows that women leave companies and even industries because they see few opportunities for more senior roles, while lesser qualified male peers are promoted to coveted leadership positions," Guise says.

"Across all industries, businesses should emphasize promoting and advancing women to top positions, because, according to additional research, women in key decision-making positions improve company outcomes, and because it's a waste of talent not to do so," she advises.

Guise also urges leaders to understand how unconscious bias affects impartiality, in particular when offering promotions and advancement.

Engage and Inspire to Retain the Best and Brightest

"In order to achieve their strategic goals for 2017, companies must focus on having the right people, in the right roles, doing the right things," states Liz Bywater, leadership expert, advisor to Fortune 100 executives, and author of the forthcoming book, Slow Down to Speed Up: How to Make the Best Decisions and Get the Right Things Done.

"While hiring well is always essential, retaining current talent should be a top priority. Smart, experienced employees who already know the ins and outs of the company and have strong relationships in place are a gift and should be treated with care.

"I advise my clients in the Fortune 100 to dedicate plenty of time with each of their leaders, to discuss career aspirations, explore opportunities to expand impact, and discover concerns that may be weighing on their leaders' minds. In turn, each of these leaders should have similar conversations with the people on their teams, and so on down the line.

"By ensuring people are happy in their work, inspired, intellectually and emotionally connected to the company and their colleagues, and optimistic about the future, organizations will be well positioned to retain their best and brightest," said Bywater.

Aim for a Moving Target

It's important that organizations map out where they want their organization to be in the future, and evaluate not just new hires but also existing staff against those metrics, according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters.

"The skills required in marketing in particular have changed dramatically over the last 10-15 years," she says. "So much so, that employees who were considered star performers just a few years ago may now find their talents are no longer critical to the organization."

She points to the fact that not that long ago web development was considered a critical skill for marketing teams. Today, those capabilities are often outsourced. Other functions, like graphic design, can often be purchased from third parties when needed, versus maintaining head count within the organization.

"Be prepared to help current employees develop the skills and capabilities that the organization will value in the future—or be ready to help them find new opportunities, either within the organization or externally," she says.

Focus on the Right Stuff

According to SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD, "Hiring and retaining talent have become recognized priorities by organizations, albeit some are more successful than others. However, the key will be hiring and retaining the right talent. Too many firms are hiring for today's needs instead of tomorrow's," he said. "They're well-staffed to deal with yesterday, but becoming obsolete for the turbulent times.

"How serious is this? Kodak, with a near-monopoly in the film business, was still hiring chemical engineers for film emulsion when the world was turning digital, and Kodak disappeared," he notes.

 
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