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Creating Spectacular Talent – Part One

by Kevin D. Crone

August 29, 2016
how_leaders_grow

This week’s Monday Morning Mentor covers critical understandings on the path to superior leadership skills, including:

  • Creating spectacular talent to ensure that your business has the capacity to hit stretch goals and compete during periods of change.
  • Waking up your training initiatives to produce results.
  • Why leadership and leadership continuity (succession planning) are so important.
  • The truth behind the crucial problem of non-engagement.

The New Reality:

  • Increased competition, geo-political and economic turmoil and disruptions, shifting markets, and customer motivations create substantial challenges for organizations to grow, manage and attract talent as a competitive advantage, especially since most companies are flattening their organizations.
  • The need for planning, training, and coaching, to manage and attract talent so your business has the capacity to grow is huge.

Enlightened human resource professionals and management staff lead the charge to determine what they need to focus on to make their business team competent and prepared for even more change.

Our worldwide team initiated two research projects over the last two years to determine what trends and areas of focus are required. The research includes a paper called “How Leaders Grow Today” and a report from MSW Research on the Emotional Drivers of Employee Engagement.

We also conducted workshops and discussion groups in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) on these subjects. The following summary is part one, distilling the essence of these reports and discussions.

  1. Leadership is the number one necessity in today’s constantly changing, tumultuous marketplace. Organizations that are growing and developing to meet the needs of the marketplace do so by focusing on improving their people’s leadership skills.
  2. Leadership continuity, also known as succession planning, is an indispensable area of focus. As markets grow or decline, talent readiness is imperative. 
  3. Employee engagement is a metric that plainly correlates with morale, effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, and bottom-line results.

Owners expect, and deserve a return on their investments, and any initiative that takes too much time or is too fuzzy or complicated usually gets put on the back burner. This explains why leadership and engagement are the top-of-mind focus for human resource professionals… but is not easy to accomplish at any organization.  There is no quick fix – a pain-free pill simply doesn’t exist.  It takes focus, time, and a little money – not just talk. Unless leaders take these issues personally and not just intellectually, the business will not perform as it should.

The world is changing and the realities are inescapable.

For Example:

  • As we all know by now, the sad truth is that most employees are not engaged.  Most large companies survey their people annually, and the findings are clear.  We have learned that employees: want to feel valued; want to know how they are important to the business; want to be involved; want to be allowed to think things through and even make mistakes; want to know where the business is going; and want to be challenged and allowed to grow and expand their horizons.  Who wouldn’t?  The critical factor – the thing that has to change before anything else will change – is management.
  • Leadership abilities allow managers to create and communicate visions; to clarify how and why things are to be done; and empower managers to actually invest time in their people, not just in things and systems. It’s important that leaders know each person’s goals, speak in terms of others’ interests and guide and advise subordinates on their future. Managers need to join forces with professionals who specialize in the practice of building and developing others, to help them through performance issues, and to help them build their confidence, vision and skills.
  • Managers and employees are suffering from economic fatigue . The last five years have been tough on everyone.  Constant change, job uncertainty, pay cuts and increased workloads for some, and the frustration and stressful demands of the latest impossible business plan simply make people tired. Morale becomes an issue underlying all performance, and craving the weekend starts earlier in the week than it used to.  People become less focused, and more impatient, unproductive and disengaged. The critical factor in managing this change: human resource professionals and management have to stay close to employees.

The opposite occurs most often, however, because in response to the fatigue, managers tend to get demanding and critical.  Doesn’t it make sense that we all get irritable when we face the same old problems, and we just get sick of the same old demands of an endlessly frustrating game?  Again, leadership is the answer.  Listening to employees’ concerns, interests, and aspirations is the key to getting employees to listen to why things at work are the way they are. Employees need to hear where the business is going, what the future looks like, and what needs to be done.  They need leaders who listen, coach and guide them through change. And leaders need to craft effective programs to help.

Every employee should know what their company stands for, how they personally change customers’ lives, and what they believe in.

This is not a technical or financial problem; it’s a people issue, so the solutions here are not technical or financial ones. You don’t need to focus on your Facebook or LinkedIn activities as the solution, and it doesn’t cost much to be a better leader, either.  The point for all of us, whether we are human resource professionals, managers, or someone who wants to get ahead in an organization: we need to get face-to-face with people, be interested in them, and ask rather than tell. We need to be skillful at creating a culture of recognition, appreciation, and respect.  This can be done.

I just heard from a friend who complained that his manager never returns emails and is slow to return any message – even though their company just lost two of the best leaders on their executive team. He never hears from the guy, period – even though my friend has been working hard to grow the business during these tougher times. Somehow, his manager doesn’t see how he is making things more difficult for everyone.  The manager probably thinks he is a terrific leader and that his actions (or non-actions) are justified.  But he doesn’t make the connection as to why the organization’s energy is lost and why two good leaders have left.  He doesn’t understand that this lack of engagement and fatigue is crippling the business. Don’t ever let this happen to you. Anyone can become a better leader, and strong leadership is in great demand.  Your future and your organization’s could depend on it.

A leader can never focus enough on communication, coaching and training. While you’re imposing change on your organization in order to respond to the marketplace, don’t forget to engage and build people so they have more of the attitude, competency and readiness to participate in the competitive battle with you.

Next week – Part Two:
•    How companies train and develop their people
•    How to wake up your leadership training initiatives
•    How leaders get better

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Is your management team engaging your people and making them feel valued as much as they should?  Would you say that performance in this regard is adequate or inadequate?

Is a culture of respect, appreciation and recognition being created?  Adequate or inadequate?

Are you enhancing your skills as an effective leader? What is one thing you can do this week to prove it? Now that you have the answer – do it.

Have an enthusiastic week!

Kevin D. Crone
Chairman, Dale Carnegie Business Group
kdcrone@dalecarnegie.ca or 905-826-7300 / 1-800-361-2032