Have you noticed how some people who are highly successful in their roles somehow fail miserably when they take a similar position in a new environment? Have you wondered why this happens? I’ve coached some very well-regarded professionals who have found themselves in this exact situation, after moving to a new organization, and have experienced this myself.
Here are three essential elements every leader needs for growing evergreen talent:
The conditions have to be right for people to thrive. Yet, most leaders give little thought to fit. Instead, they focus on skills and experience and hire whoever looks best on paper. Here’s an example of what I mean when I say that conditions must be well suited for the kinds of workers you are hiring.
Many years ago, I was hired to lead up the HR function for a professional service firm, where pedigree mattered more than performance. The environment was completely wrong for me and after fourteen months on the job, I was fired.
My next job was with an overnight delivery service, where the culture was a much better match all around. So much so, that I was awarded the difference maker of the year award the first year on the job. This time around, I was planted in the right environment, which explains how I quickly went from being fired to rock star status.
Employees want to be nurtured and developed, and those companies that provide the nutrients that employees seek for personal growth are winning the lion’s share of talent. There are a number of nutrients that feed the souls of employees and keep people engaged. A sense of purpose is high on the list for many.
Employees today are no longer satisfied merely increasing company profits or stock prices. They want their work to have meaning. They also want to make the world a better place. You can win the hearts of your employees by partnering with nonprofits and encouraging employees to participate in special days that the company designates for volunteerism.
In addition to the desire for purpose, employees today have become accustomed to growing in a talent bed that is seeded with benefits. No matter how you feel about some of the crazy perks that companies use to lure talent, you can’t disregard this phenomenon. Ask employees which perks they value most and do your best to provide those that are top of mind for the kinds of people you wish to attract and retain.
The key to attracting and retaining talent is great leadership. Employees will uproot themselves and find fertile ground elsewhere, rather than get plowed under by a leader who stifles their growth. Star employees and those with potential have a ton of employment choices these days. If you’ve got great leaders in place, they’ll choose your organization and will remain for years to come.
A good place to start is with an honest evaluation of the leadership in your organization. Here are some questions to consider.
- If I had it to do over again, would I hire this person for a leadership position?
- Would I encourage my son or daughter to work under members of our leadership team? (Note: If you say, “Yes, but with the exception of _____________” then you’ve got some work to do with this leader.)
- Are the people we promote into leadership roles, outstanding leaders?
- Do we treat our leaders as assets to invest in, rather than as costs that can be easily reduced?
- Do we provide our leaders with coaches, who can help raise their performance levels?
Leadership is a journey. Not a destination. Those who continuously nurture their leaders and provide them with the right nutrients will fare far better than those who don’t.
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