23/07/2010

By Andrew Lester, Managing Partner of Carr-Michael Consulting

If you ask a loyal customer who regularly buys a particular brand what makes them carry on buying the same thing when new competitors and propositions are bombarding them all the time, you tend to get the same answer: “because its great value, never lets me down and makes me feel good”.

Buried in the responses of brand loyal customers are the responses of company loyal employees. Why have you carried on working for the same company? “Because they treat me well, I like the people, I know the sector and I enjoy it.”

Given this obvious link between how customers respond and how employees respond, it is not difficult to work out how to hold onto great Talent — and at the same time attract and retain more great Talent. In any professional team sport great players want to play with other great players. You can pay a goal scorer (striker) in football all the money in the world but he will soon become disillusioned and leave if the rest of the team can’t get the ball to him to enable him to score.

It is the same in business. Teams that work harmoniously and progress (grow) become great places to work. They attract the best and retain the best. They also do something else: they continuously “raise the bar” by working off each other — pushing new ways of working and floating ideas for new products and services. Simply put, success breeds success. So the key to holding onto great talent is to provide the environment for them to develop and progress in line with the growth of the company.

However, company progress (growth) has to be managed. Growing purely by working harder not smarter will drive stress that most employees will resent and reject — usually by finding another job. It’s no great surprise that when companies start to show stress they do so by losing their best people first. Any business that is losing its key talent needs to take fast decisive action to reset the organisation as the place to work — easy to say, more difficult to do.

Resetting the business drives the need to check all the fundamentals of the company. It starts with confirming or adjusting the core business strategy and making sure that all operational activities are aligned and support it. This includes testing and reviewing the core values and purpose of the business and crucially the direction and speed of growth needed to develop a successful business. This may sound totally obvious, and it is.

The issue however is that most companies don’t do it. When they lose good talent they often dismiss it as an aberration or worse “a blessing in disguise”. They find some specific reason for the loss rather than truly evaluating what were the circumstances and situations that lead to the employee leaving and are those same issues relevant to others and likely to occur. So in addition to setting the right direction, growth rate and purpose for the company, all business owners and managers have to retain an inquisitive mind and an analytical appraisal behind the loss of any of the company’s talent.

People buy what they like, people work where they like.....just as you set your products out on the customer market stall, do so also for your employees.

Please feel free to comment by contacting me: andrewlester@carr-michael.com.

Andrew Lester is Managing Partner of Carr-Michael Consulting, specialists in growth management and business performance improvement.
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