6 Ways to Use Talent as a Corporate Differentiator

6 Ways to Use Talent as a Corporate Differentiator
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Does Your Talent Differentiate Your Business?
High growth companies use talent as a corporate differentiator.  In fact, our organizational alignment research found that talent accounts for 29% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, and employee engagement.

A Surprise About Talent
While most are not surprised that top talent equates to higher levels of performance, many talent management experts are surprised to learn that peak performance does not necessarily start with having the best talent.  It starts with setting the stage for your talent to excel.  So how do you use talent as a corporate differentiator?

Start with the Business Strategy
Before investing in talent initiatives, start by making sure that your business strategy is clear, believable, and implementable enough in the eyes of those who need to execute and support it.  If people do not have confidence in the strategic direction or if their goals and accountabilities or roles and responsibilities are unclear, your talent investments will be diluted.

And you will not be able to use talent as a corporate differentiator.

Strategies Must Go Through People and Culture
Once your strategy is clear enough to act, your next step is shape and align your high performance culture for your specific strategy.  You will know you are on the right path when your corporate culture — defined as how work actually gets done — directly helps to move your strategy forward in a way that makes sense.

That means that your desired workplace culture must be understood, lived, and consistently leveraged to get desired results.

Hiring top talent into a toxic culture or even an unaligned corporate culture is a recipe for conflict, disengagement, churn, and attrition.

Talent as a Corporate Differentiator
Once your business strategy is clear and your organizational culture is aligned, it is time to attract, develop, engage, and retain talent that fits your unique situation. We define optimized talent as the workforce that leaders build and manage to create a unique advantage their competitors cannot replicate. One good indicator of success on the talent side of the equation is observing that people who are a good cultural fit are most likely to be high performers.

Six Ways to Use Talent as a Corporate Differentiator
If you want to build top talent at your company so  it becomes a competitive differentiator, make sure that you put the right talent in the right positions at the right time.  Also make sure that you wisely invest in key players in the key positions that matter most.  Here is what you need to make it happen:

  1. Get The Full Support and Commitment of the Executive Team
    Leadership should set the tone, provide the resources (time, money, and support), and hold line managers, not Human Resources, accountable for selecting, engaging, developing, and retaining the talent that will get the job done in the way it needs to be done.  While HR can certainly play an important role, line managers have a profound impact on your ability to attract, engage, and retain talent.

    Great leaders attract talent.  Great leaders develop talent.  And great leaders create a performance environment that allows people to perform at their peak.

    If leaders do not consistently value people as their greatest asset and reward people proportionately, it is difficult to have the required talent practices in place to recognize and retain top talent.

  2. Create a Talent Planning and Recruitment Strategy that Aligns with Your Culture and Your Strategy
    Know your true culture well enough so you can use your corporate values, practices, team norms, and behaviors to bolster your employee selection process. Do not be fooled into hiring for your aspirational culture.

    Make sure your employee brand reflects the day-to-day realities and attracts the talent you want — the talent that fits in with your culture and is likely to stay for the long haul.  For example, a recent high growth client’s culture has been described as aggressive, fast moving, direct, confrontational, sink-or-swim, and results-oriented.  If new employees survive the first year, they tend to stay for the long haul — which is good.  But the first year attrition rate is 37% and increasing — which is bad.

    The true culture is not accurately described on the company website or fully revealed in the current interview process.  A more authentic interviewing and screening process that uncovers cultural fit could save the firm both time and money as they struggle with finding adequate resources to support their 40% year-over-year growth.

  3. Be Specific about Your Expectations and Hold Employees Accountable to the Standards
    To achieve a high performance culture, you need to create and stand behind performance goals that are clear, accurate, transparent, fair, achievable, and relevant.  Not only do you need to consistently recognize high performers, but you must also ensure that low performers, who do not improve, move on so that high performers stay engaged and motivated without lowering the performance bar.

    Employees need to understand how their job performance is measured and believe that performance evaluations are fair and appropriate.

  4. Provide Meaningful Development
    Keep employees at their performance peak with targeted learning and development opportunities that enhance the most important skills required to increase performance. For the best results, make sure that the desired performance improvements and targeted skills matter to three levels of stakeholders:

    (1) The individual
    (2) Their boss
    (3) The business

    We call this 3×3 Relevance.  Without 3×3 relevance, your chances for behavior change and performance improvement are slim.

    Employees want to know that leaders are willing to make investments to make them more successful.  They want their job to provide the chance to learn and grow.

    Do you provide enough opportunities for employees to learn new skills that will help them to succeed both now and in the future?  Do you use leadership simulation assessments for high stakes roles to create targeted development plans?

  5. Measure, Review, and Recognize Performance Often
    Quality coaching and frequent feedback encourages the behaviors you seek. As a manager, be accessible, open, and straightforward as you interact with your employees. Make sure employees know where they stand and provide the unwavering support they need to succeed.

    Goals should be clear to everyone on the team, and people should feel confident that, if they contribute to the organizations success, that they will be recognized.

  6. Share the Mission, Vision, and Importance of People with All Employees
    Talent kept in the dark or underappreciated will fade. Keep the core purpose of the company in front of everyone so that they can believe in what you want to accomplish as a company. You want your people to feel a part of the team and be confident that leaders of the organization are setting the right course.

    Then, let people know how they fit into the company’s future plans.  To increase employee engagement, have a clear and explicit talent strategy that shows how the leaders of the organization are committed to making it a great place to work.

The Bottom Line
How you hire, develop, and retain talent matters.  High growth companies use talent as a corporate differentiator.  Is your talent aligned with your strategy and culture?

To learn more about how to use talent as a corporate differentiator, download The 3 Key Ingredients to a Successful Talent Management Recipe for Success

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