5 Field-Tested Talent Management Factors that Matter Most

Engaging and retaining your top talent takes a focused effort on the part of an organization’s leadership. If you consider your employees to be part of your competitive edge in your marketplace, it is worth your investment in focus, time and resources to see that you hire, develop, engage and retain the best of the best.

Our talent management consulting work over the last two decades in the field of helping clients attract, develop, grow and retain their top talent has demonstrated over and over again that there are five factors that matter most:

  1. Inspire their support and commitment for your vision and mission.
    Along with the corporate values, we believe that the vision and mission are the strategic drivers of any organization. We define corporate Vision as “what the company hopes to become and the business the company will be in tomorrow.” An effective strategic vision gives shape and direction to the company’s future. It helps people set and pursue aligned goals. You know you are on the right track when your top talent believes that your corporate vision is future-oriented, inspiring, challenging, motivating, memorable, purpose-driven and unique to your situation.We define corporate Mission as “the organization’s business and fundamental purpose.” An effective corporate mission statement grounds the entire workforce around what the organization is really there to do in terms of markets, offerings, distinctive core competencies, benefits and results. You know you are on the right track when your top talent believes that your corporate mission is meaningful, believable, achievable and relevant.

    A key component of any talent management strategy should be to include your high potentials in the creating and cascading of the corporate strategy throughout the company in a compelling way. The more committed they are to the difference your business can make, the more engaged they will be in doing their best to achieve it. But don’t just look at the current situation. Give them a clear picture of their individual path forward and how they can continue to grow and contribute. Top talent is always at risk of being tempted away unless they understand where they fit in the company’s future and feel they are an integral part of the company’s success.

    You know you are on the right path when your employees understand the company’s plans for future success, believe your organization will be successful in the future, understand how their job helps the organization achieve success and know how they fit into the organization’s future plans.

  2. Make sure that your corporate culture is in alignment with your talent and business strategies.
    Our organizational alignment research shows that companies who align their culture and talent with their strategy grow 58% faster and are 72% more profitable while having 16.8-to-1 higher levels of employee engagement.Your best employees want to feel that they are surrounded by colleagues who care about their work as much as they do. So-called “A” players thrive in a high performing culture. Clearly articulate the values and behaviors that are the foundation of your strategy for success. How do you need your employees to behave in order to thrive? If innovation is key to your success, your culture should welcome “out-of-the-box” thinking, fresh ideas, and diverse perspectives. Workers should always be encouraged to ask questions and offer suggestions for improvement.
  3. Set and coach toward clear and meaningful goals.
    High achievers like to be challenged. Specific, timely, relevant, ambitious but attainable goals are the best. When your expectations are clearly articulated, rewarded and transparent to all, just watch your high potentials work to meet them. With skilled coaching, they will learn how to work most effectively. Learning and growth matter to them. They are ready and willing students for coaches and mentors they respect.
  4. Provide clear success metrics for performance.
    It is only poor performers who dislike performance measures…high performers love them. Under-performers enjoy ambiguity because it allows them to hide. High performers want to know where they stand and get rewarded accordingly. Measure the critical few results and behaviors that truly drive business performance and make sure that your performance management system is clear, fair, accurate, timely, proportionate, relevant and transparent.
  5. Manage performance, both high and low.
    Desired results and behaviors should be recognized and rewarded in a way that is meaningful to the individual employee…be it public congratulations or a dinner out for two. By the same token, poor performance cannot be ignored. Nothing discourages a high performer faster than when there are no consequences for lack of effort or substandard performance.

Appreciate and value your top talent by making clear that they are an integral part of the company’s future, that there is a path for their growth, that there are behaviors and goals needed for success, and that you intend to monitor and manage everyone’s performance to see that those behaviors continue to produce positive business results.

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