Attract (and Assimilate)
What if, along with attracting people to our organization, we begin to assimilate them into our culture with the first shake of hands? The sense of belonging is one of the greatest needs we have as human beings and is just as important in the workplace. So where the attraction fades away—dare I say just like in romantic relationships—our people are brought rapidly into the culture so, no matter what, they feel as though they belong (or together we find out right away that it’s not a fit). Our employees may not always stay in the same job, yet if they feel part of a larger family there is a greater chance they will move within the organization rather than out of it.
Motivate (To Do and To Share)
Many of our performance & rewards programs do a fair-to-excellent job of extrinsically motivating people to do a job well. I don’t see this going away; it is an important part of the employer-employee value proposition. Yet how often are we motivating our people to share their knowledge with others? Is knowledge transfer on any of your organization’s performance objectives? Given we may have only a limited duration with key employees, we are best served to get as much knowledge and wisdom from them as we can without delay. The supplemental benefit is that others in the organization have the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of your organization’s giants.
Develop (Horizontally & Vertically)
Horizontal development—what we would think of as our traditional development—focuses on imparting new skills, abilities, and behaviors through training, job assignments, and even mentoring and 360° feedback. Vertical development has been defined as “…the ‘stages’ that people progress through in how they ‘make sense’ of their world.” To be vertically developed is to have a high level of self-awareness and consciousness and the mindset to think more clearly, work and live more proactively than reactively, and communicate and collaborate more authentically. However, vertical development is something one must attain on his or her own. The good news is: organizations can not only create the conditions but also offer different types of approaches to incorporate the practice and exercise of vertical development capabilities. We may end up creating the conditions in which some of our brightest are so vertically developed they realize they want to be somewhere else, yet we get the very best of them while they are with us.
Retain (and Prepare)
We would love to have our top performers stay forever. Retention programs are as important as they ever were. Yet at the same time we’re asking our people to stay, we can be preparing for them to go while including them in the process. Most of us have heard the saying “I’m working my way out of a job.” And in this case, I’m not only talking about doing exactly that but talking about being planful, proactive, and strategic in the way we go about it. So while we finish up our High Potentials plan, we are asking those same HiPos to find their replacements, mentor them, and groom them for achieving the next one or two levels. For the 40%of organizations with inadequate bench strength, I suggest you get going!
In The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo describes a new form of deep security as “a way of seeing, thinking, and of acting that accepts growing complexity and ceaseless newness as givens—and, used properly, our best allies.” What was once a sustainable advantage has become temporary; we must embrace the inevitable that our people will change, grow, and move on. So with fervor attract, motivate, develop, and retain your best people, yet, with diligence and grace, prepare for them to leave.