Talent Transfer – Am I the Beneficiary or Victim?

April 7, 2020 in Retention



Talent Transfer – Am I the Beneficiary or Victim?

Am I the Beneficiary or Victim?

That’s the basic question our clients and partners are asking themselves right now as they navigate the coronavirus crisis. Seems like an odd question given we’re in the middle of a pandemic with actual life-threatening consequences. But, in talking to organizational leaders around the U.S. and even overseas, we’ve discovered that the question has merit as we potentially face a serious talent transfer crisis during, and especially after, the real crisis abates.

The premise?

It starts with a simple fact we all understand – talented people always have options. In normal times, these folks look around every so often and ask themselves, “Is this the right environment for me?” Enter coronavirus, a.k.a. disruption. During times of disruption, this question is asked multiple times per day. Disruption creates chaos, invites reflection and opens opportunity to those who have the broadest set of options. They may not act immediately, but the door has cracked open.

Our primary purpose as leaders is to attract, engage and develop top talent. Any business can be boiled down to that simple recipe for success – do these things well and your business will thrive. Mic drop. In this particular moment, when almost every organization has experienced an extreme change in the way they do business, these priorities have given way to other matters such as health and safety, shelter-in-place, work force reduction, negotiating “essential business” status, payroll protection – the crisis. Organizations worldwide will perform somewhere on the spectrum from “outstanding” to “inept” as it relates to dealing with these challenges. In each case, leadership will show its true colors. If the example is outstanding, all good, but if it’s anything less than that, what are the consequences as it relates to the top talent in your organization?

That brings us to the title of this blog – are you the beneficiary or the victim?

In our minds, we are set up to be the beneficiary of the talent transfer if we take this moment to double down on connecting our teams through the crisis. Most of us have gone remote. How are you using this opportunity to increase teamwork in the distributed environment? How are you providing opportunities to connect personally and as groups? If you’ve stopped investing in your people or have elevated other priorities over talent initiatives, you may be the victim.

Last week, a client in the manufacturing industry shared the results of a global engagement survey conducted for his team before and during the crisis. Now, this leader didn’t see the crisis coming. Rather, he wanted to measure the impact of engagement tools he introduced to his team to gauge the ROI. The survey was shortened to seven questions, including one he was particularly interested in understanding – “How likely are you to consider employment elsewhere?” The results were astonishing. He improved on all fronts, with a minimum increase of 50% to a high of 600%! The measured likelihood that his people would look elsewhere – down 88%. The optional comments were numerous and all concentrated on how appreciative they were of his personal interest in them – well-being, development, success – and how connected they felt as a team. All of this was accomplished in the teeth of the crisis.

This organization, specifically this team, is positioned to be the beneficiary.

More and more, the forward-looking leaders we speak with are investing in tools and training to position them as the beneficiaries of the impending talent transfer. Top of the list are:

  1. Engagement tools and strategies to keep people personally connected through the crisis

  2. Tools that connect their teams in the distributed environment (it’s not going away).

  3. Soft skills to equip managers to lead connected teams even while physically distant.

  4. Dynamic survey platforms to gauge the emotional health and communication needs of their workforces.

I’m sure we have much in common right now.

Just as our backlog was filled and all trends were positive, COVID hit. We have been forced to re-prioritize around survival as a team and as a business. Through this process, team connection has remained the top priority and it has made all the difference. We are more engaged, more connected and working better as a team even while physically separated. And, we’re helping clients do the same through our training and software tools.

Talented people everywhere are learning a lot about the leadership culture in their organizations. They will vote with their feet based on what they witness first-hand. So, are you a beneficiary or a victim of talent transfer in your organization?

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