Are You Behind in the Race for Employer of Choice? Does it Matter in an Unstable Economy? (Part 2)

Becoming an employer of choice relies heavily on getting better at selecting the talent and developing the leaders to lead a culture that inspires people and delivers an employment experience that drives retention and employer brand. With all the challenges facing organizations, it is important to not make this more complicated than it needs to be. The key is to stop talking about what needs to improve and take concrete steps toward implementing them. Change the way you identify and select talent. Engage leaders in learning experiences that integrate coaching and application-based learning elements. Stop measuring engagement. It’s about practice and experience versus simply learning the academic aspects of leadership. It is time to make game-changing improvements that help you become the employer of choice in the communities you serve.

The Approach You Are Taking for Hiring is All Wrong

Companies are changing their approach to talent acquisition. Technology, assessments and virtual simulations are becoming common practice. However, most still underperform when it comes to identifying and selecting the right talent. This is because simply changing tools without changing mindset and adapting skills won’t bring the desired change. Companies should take a balanced scorecard approach to identifying and selecting talent. 

Many organizations still use the standard job description for their selection practice. To find the best match for your organization, you need success profiles that highlight more than tasks. A greater focus needs to be on experiences, aspirations and behaviors that align with your culture, and professional behaviors that correlate with successful performance. Think long-term. What capabilities are needed to move the business forward and sustain outcomes?

If you want to be able to change with market and workforce demands and become an employer of choice, you will have to change your approach. This will not be easy, but if you don’t, you will be just like everyone else recycling the same talent that goes back and forth from company to company. Stop drying up the pipeline and start developing it.  

It’s Time to Stop Talking About Developing Next Gen Leaders 

Books are constantly written, training programs are sold, delivered and fail, and companies try to recruit the best leaders away from each other. It’s time to stop the madness and focus on simple, clear and practical solutions. This is the only approach that sets you apart.

Organizational development, learning, and human resource professionals can get too theoretical and academic with their approach to development. They spend time building competency models with 10, 12 or 15 leadership competencies versus focusing on simple behaviors we know impact success in people leaders. We make it too difficult for managers to coach their people and even more difficult for people to understand what behaviors they need to develop.

Learning professionals must focus on practical application and personalize the development experience for each respective leader as this will drive accountability. When a person knows and takes accountability for behavior that needs to change, they will change it. Communication, building relationships, coaching others, learning agility, personal integrity, change resiliency and focusing on the entire organization (systems thinking) are key drivers for success in global leaders. You must develop these leadership attributes. Your culture, and subsequently your status as an employer of choice, depends on it.

Leading from the Middle

For most people, their managers are the face of the company, as that’s the leadership they interact with every day. Middle managers are the ones who bring business strategies to the workforce, and they’re responsible for much of the work of executing these strategies.  In essence, the middle bring life to the strategic plan. Yet companies are still directing most resources toward developing leadership higher up the ladder. What’s worse is that middle managers are often chosen for their technical expertise, not their ability to lead or manage. 

This results in middle managers who are often not skilled leaders, and they’re not being given opportunities to develop better leadership capabilities. They are being set up to fail. Plus, this lack of success inevitably trickles down to those who report to that manager as they’re not being supported as well as they should. The dominos continue to fall as engagement levels drop, attrition rises, and the pool of talent to draw from within the company shrinks. 

The good news is that the problem is easily solved by directing more development resources to the middle. It’s also important to acknowledge that most companies can’t bear the hard or soft costs of sending managers off for weeks of training. Instead, those higher up the chain of command should be mentoring and providing guidance in the moment, along with practical and formal leadership training. This trickles down to the employee level increasing job satisfaction and the overall attractiveness of your company to the workforce.

So, You’re Measuring Engagement. Now What?

Surveying employees without taking action on the data you collect is the number one roadblock when trying to improve engagement. When people feel that nothing is being done to improve the work environment after survey results have been collected, they’ll begin to lose trust in management and will stop responding altogether to future surveys.

Do you really know what your employees need to be successful? Leaders often make assumptions about what their employees want and need. Talk to them. Leaders need to have candid discussions with their teams to understand what they meant by their responses to the engagement survey and how they measure success in improving the work environment. Examine the drivers of engagement with your teams to identify strengths, opportunities and priorities. This will enable success in solving core issues. Assumptions lead to wasted time and resources and will only slow down the process of making improvements. In order to get actionable feedback, it is imperative your employees feel safe providing real feedback, and your leadership team needs to be open to hearing it and committing to change.

It is easy to want to improve everything. To sustain change, you must focus on a few key priorities until behaviors, processes or practices have changed. Switching around priorities leads to confusion, which will lead to a lack of productivity and an indifference towards engagement.

Communication…Communication…Communication! Organizations must share not only results, but progress being made on improving results. We believe you can never over-communicate what actions leaders and the organization are taking to improve. Promote storytelling in the workplace. This helps drive ownership and involvement of a diverse mix of employees by engaging them to share stories.  

The key is to not simply survey. Feedback is a gift to accept, cherish and do something with. Don’t chase the “shiny new coin” of expansive data or fall into the trap of analysis paralysis. Keep it simple by creating action plans and sharing the stories as you improve based on this valuable feedback.

One Common Theme

The way you identify, develop and engage talent has a direct correlation to the reputation your company has in the market place and subsequently on your status as an employer of choice. There are resources that can help you make the changes you need to make to get there. The LAK Group believes that the workforce of the future is demanding changes to how organizations attract and retain talent. Our innovative approach to helping organizations define and implement game-changing talent strategies is key to helping companies become the employer of choice in the communities they serve. Contact us to learn more.