KEEPING TALENTED EMPLOYEES
Our next series of blog articles will focus on finding (and keeping) the right (best) employees for your business. We will explore finding, hiring, and keeping employee talent. People who will work independently, effectively, and fit with the future of your company.
It is one thing to attract and successfully hire a new employee, and quite another to ensure that the employee stays with your company. In the 20th century, it was not uncommon for a person to work for the same company his/her entire working life. In the 1950s and 1960s if you signed on with a large corporation you did what you were told. Advancement usually required changing jobs and locations. Today, we live in a different world where the employee is telling the company what she expects if she is going to work for, or stay with, the company.
For example, Chris’s two daughters are working professionals under thirty years of age (Millennials). All through school they were challenged by their teachers, parents and peers to ask questions, think on their own, provide input and creative ideas, problem solve, and make decisions often independently or in small teams. It is natural for them to expect nothing less in the workplace. The fact that Millennials on average change jobs 5-6 times before they are 30 years of age points to the possibility that their expectations of work are different than found in prior generations.
As your company moves into the next decade, the leadership and management of the company will need to understand the new employee and the work environment will need to support, challenge, and stimulate these new hires. At the same time, supporting and accommodating older workers as well.
If you are a business owner or manager, it will be important to understand the culture of each new generation of worker, i.e., Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial. Just as important will be to understand the basic behavioral styles that all employees bring to the work place. In our experience, labeling a person a Millennial is not as descriptive or prescriptive as using the DiSC to determine that the person is Steady or Creative. A creative style person likes to be in control and yet they want a varied (unpredictable) work environment. Work must be challenging and rewarding and also different or new. They need to multi-task, and have their ideas heard. Regardless of age, whether the person is 25 or 55, the way to retain a creative type person is to provide a work environment that is stimulating.
A couple of years ago we were asked to facilitate a “Think Tank” or “Idea Team” in a title company. The premise of the Think Tank was to bring together some of the newer talent in the company to brainstorm new ideas that could be implemented throughout the company. Critical to this process was ensuring the selected employees were able to generate new ideas without criticism or second guessing. What was essential was they were given a voice in the company.
Step 1. In creating an “Idea Team,” we recruited a cross-section of positions and people throughout the company, including managers and decision makers. That being said, the selection criteria for the group primarily focused on newer employees who were creative, welcomed change, and who would think outside the box.
Step 2. The group started with a general session in which each member was free to present and discuss their new idea for the company. Members were encouraged to look outside of the title industry for ideas and to especially tap into what they saw happening in their social networks. To facilitate the process, we did meet off work-site in a neutral location, often in a secluded room of a good restaurant where we could have fewer distractions, a good meal and a cocktail at the end of our work sessions.
The rules for the group were simple. Every idea was presented without criticism. “Yeah Buts” were not allowed. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a “Yeah But” comes from someone who says after an idea is presented: “Yeah, but that idea will never work because…..” A yeah but is just another form of saying ‘No;’ they stifle creative thinking.
Even though Yeah Buts were not allowed, they did occur. To help the team members remember, we made Yeah But buttons and made a person wear the button if they did a Yeah But.
Wearing a Yeah But button was a way of eliminating unconstructive criticism. On the other hand, after all the ideas were on the table, we engaged in a systematic process to constructively evaluate each idea. Looking for the most effective way to solve a problem or bring a new process to the company.
Step 3. Once we had a good size list of ideas listed on a White Board we went back through them and prioritized based on the estimated Cost and probable Benefit to the company. Likewise, we examined the company’s ability, capability, or readiness to implement the idea. Finally, we rated how innovative the idea was compared to where the group felt the title industry as a whole was headed. To learn more about these three selection criteria, read Chapter 14, Selecting a Strategy, in our second book Finding the Right Strategy.
Step 4. The Idea Team then took the top four ideas that passed successfully through our three selection criteria filters and over the course of the next four sessions, the group worked on the steps needed to implement the ideas throughout the company, including presenting the ideas to executive management for discussion and approval.
Ultimately, the Idea Team concept was a way to energize the creative talent of the company, keep new hires invested, and spur innovation.
If you are interested in creating such a group, it will be important to seek professional advice or assistance, and to be aware of several potential pitfalls.
Decision Makers. It is important to have some decision makers be a part of the group. At the priority phase of the group’s process, they lend sound advice and experience on what will be functional within the constraints of the company’s resources. However, these same people, often times, are senior managers who are likely to put a damper on the initial phase of creative thinking and idea development. In the meetings, these folks need to sit back and listen. You want your young creative talent to command the floor in the early phases, and not be intimidated. Your creative talent is where your innovation will come from and you will also be demonstrating their input is critical and welcomed.
Hearing from others. Just because you select a group of creative types for your Idea Team, there are likely many more employees out there who also would like a voice and a means to express their ideas. Think about routine ways that you can gather input from your employees on a consistent basis. Managers should be directed to routinely ask for input in their meetings. An effort should be made to work with the new talent throughout the company and provide opportunities for them to not only voice their opinions but focus on innovation.
Promote other ways to generate new ideas. Make sure there are structural channels in your company where by good ideas from employees, especially new hires, can find a path to upper management. Don’t let good ideas die because they encounter too many roadblocks.
Implement and make it work. Follow-through is always the key to the successful implementation of any new idea. It is one thing to get an energetic group of idea developers off by themselves generating innovative concepts; it’s quite another thing to successfully implement the ideas throughout your company. Spend as much time on follow-through as you do on development. Make sure you have buy-in from your key players and Managers. Pilot tests are often a good idea. Start small in one area and then expand to other areas as you work out the kinks along the way and demonstrate success. Make management ultimately accountable for following through on implementation.
Creating a work environment that supports and retains talented employees will be the key to a small company’s success in the next decade. In the coming months, the CBAltd Blog will focus on finding, hiring, and retaining the right employees.
If you would like more information about developing an Idea Team concept in your company, or any of the ideas in this article, please contact Chris Hanson or Roger Lubeck through this website or from www.cbaltd.biz.
The articles in this blog are co-written by Chris Hanson and Roger Lubeck at CBA, Ltd.
CBA’s books on Management, Leadership and Sales, Finding the Right Path and Finding the Right Strategy can be ordered directly via this website or through Amazon.
To learn more about CBA’s consulting services, contact us directly or explore our website.