Talk is cheap. Attracting talented people into an organization is one thing, hanging on to them is yet another story. How often have you heard the words “We value talent, we are people centric, our people come first”. Too often I bet. Sadly though most employers do an excellent job driving away talented people rather than bringing them into the enfolds of the business. Even sadder though they do this unintentionally and have no idea why talent leaves them and they are unable to attract live wires for new hires. Here are five common mistakes that lead to talent flight.
1. Impersonal job advertisements. How often have you seen advertisements talking about the job requirements and description as opposed to selling the job and the organization? Pick up todays newspaper and see the culprits. Sell the job not describe the requirements. Recruiting is a sales pitch. Recall Lord Kitchener’s world war one recruitment advertisement for young men to join the army “Your country needs you”. No reference is made is to height, size, strength of the soldier. Just a simple yet effective poster of Lord Kitchener pointing a finger at you. When you put a human empathic touch to your advertisements talent is drawn to it like a magnet.
2. Template communication. “Your application has been received we will get back to you.” How many times have you received one of these “Dear Mr. John Smith”. For goodness sake who calls you John Smith, either John or Mr. Smith. Try something different like, “Dear John, Thank you for applying, or Thank you for considering us, or Wow we are excited that you applied…. “ This departure from the template and putting a human “wow” to the response ignites talent and sets up for a lively interview. Then of course, the dreaded pp. signature from the secretary or junior personal. If the communication does not come from the top, chances are they don’t know about it or have little to do with talent entering the organization. Talent simply does not pitch for interviews signed by junior personal.
3. Ease of feedback. Talent loves to be heard, touched and felt constantly. It needs to be stroked, nurtured and constantly engaged. This can only happen when there are robust constant feedback mechanisms in place. Where top management has a habit to listening to life on the shop floor talent thrives. More often than not top management is spared the reality and bathe in the realms of false serendipity that all is well on the shop floor. Worse still is where feedback upward is filtered and sugar coated and bares no resemblance to the intended message. Exodus is sure to follow. Where feedback is one way, talent hits the doorway.
4. The company policy says. “I can only give you a pay rise of 5%”, “There is no provision for an extra hour off”, “I have to deduct it from your wages”. How often have you seen managers hide behind policy and fail to step up for their teams? Exceptional people need exceptional treatment. Policy is there to guide and must be used as such. The weaker the top management, the more reliant they are on policy. The less confident a manager is the more likely he or she is to drive away your best performers. Talent departs when policy is used the same way a drunk uses a lamppost, either for illumination or….
5. Credit givers or takers. A Chinyanja proverb comes to light “When there are mice you eat alone, when there is a snake you call me” Top management who don’t give credit when and where it is due flog talent to death. They pick, squabble, quibble and lie to protect themselves and their careers. Instead of removing the “weeds” around the talent to allow the talent to grow they poison the water on which the talent feeds. Talent thrives on credit giving, on recognition, on being appreciated.
Unfortunately for most organization’s they pay lip service to talent and then wonder why their tangible assets fail to perform. If you are losing more people than you are attracting then you’re probably guilty of these misdemeanors, consciously or sub consciously. Talent is the blood, which drives the business. Be aware of it or beware of its absence.
Image credit: MRC Business Group