Shop Life Human Resources Columnists

Rains: Being a Talent Magnet

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How do we attract and retain team members, especially the most talented ones? I have come to believe that our biggest lever is our current leaders and managers. There’s an old saying that has been proven over and over: “People don’t leave jobs; they leave bosses.”

How do we become the kind of leaders and managers who people don’t want to leave? That’s good defense. And how do we lead and manage in ways so that the best talent out there can’t wait to work for us? That’s good offense.

Imagine having a talent pipeline that had the best people out there just waiting for an opportunity to work for us. Imagine having an opening in your organization and all you had to do was open a file and there were dozens of applicants ready and willing to have a shot at working with you. How do we create a magnetic culture that consistently draws the best and brightest talent?

A lot of the answer lies in the simple idea of people development. Are we the kind of leader that helps our team members achieve their goals? The big idea here is that if we help them achieve their goals, they will help us achieve ours.

Now, some of the motivation and attraction is financial, of course. People come to work for a paycheck. That’s the “price” of entry, though. Since that’s true for every job, what differentiates one shop from another is opportunity.

Our team members are longing for opportunities to grow and learn, to be connected to a larger cause, and to have enjoyable relationships at home and work. It’s often the intangibles that mean the most. How do they feel about coming to work? Are they going to be around people they know, like, and trust? Does their boss care about them as a person? Do they have opportunities to grow and improve at what they do? Are they able to gain mastery and not just competence? Our people have desires that are universal. They want to win, to be the best at something, and be connected to a team that is exceptional.

I forget where I first heard it but a manager once asked: “What if I spend all this time and money developing people and they leave us for another opportunity? Won’t our competitors just steal all this talent we are creating?” The person came back with the answer, “What if you don’t develop them and they stay?” The point was made. If we choose not to invest in our people, someone else will or they will be stuck where they are and not add any more value to our businesses than they currently do.

Last month, I started re-reading a great book that I first read 11 years ago. It has always stuck with me. It’s called 12: The Elements of Great Managing. It’s a book that is steeped in great research from the Gallup organization. It is not a “woo-woo,” feel-good culture book—it’s grounded in tens of thousands of hours of research and data collection.

We recently took the 12 elements mentioned in the book and turned them into a survey that can be taken by everyone on our team. We then collect that information and work closely with the managers of each shop to tailor a plan to improve their weakest areas. This gets feedback from everyone on our current team and it puts us in a position to coach our managers. Remember: Our biggest lever for attracting and retaining talent is our current leadership.

The 12 questions, which can all be answered as “never,” “sometimes,” “usually,” or “always”, are:

  1. I know what is expected of me and how that ties into the overall performance of the shop.
  2. I have the equipment, tools, and materials needed to do a great job.
  3. I have an opportunity to do what I do best.
  4. I get recognition, appreciation, and praise when I do a good job.
  5. I know that someone at work cares for me as a person.
  6. I am given encouragement and opportunity to develop my skills.
  7. My opinion counts.
  8. My co-workers are committed to doing quality work.
  9. I have a connection with the mission of the company.
  10. I have a meaningful friendship with someone at work.
  11. We regularly talk about our progress.
  12. I have opportunities at work to learn and grow.

I wanted to leave you with a couple quotes that I’ve been chewing on related to being a talent magnet. I hope you enjoy them and, more importantly, find them useful. They seem simple at first, but there is a world of wisdom in each one.

“We have three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness. When those needs are satisfied, we’re motivated, productive, and happy.”
―Daniel H. Pink in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

“Multipliers aren’t ‘feel-good’ managers. They look into people and find capability, and they want to access all of it. They utilize people to their fullest. They see a lot, so they expect a lot.”
―Liz Wiseman in Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

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