The Conversation That Retains Your Best Talent

Retention strategyIn March of 2014, over 4.4 million people changed jobs.

Years of economic lethargy built a deep well of interest in moving to new opportunities. Many companies are not ready for the coming employee turnover as the economy continues to improve.

So what are you actively doing NOW to retain your best talent? The best strategy is proactive and simple: have a conversation. Do it this week with your most productive and highest contributing employees, those whom you would hate to lose. And here’s an easy template to help you with that conversation…

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I Promoted Tom – Now I May Have to Fire Him

60% of all new manager failWhat went wrong? We promote great people because they’re really good at what they do. Then far too often we watch as they crash and burn. Here are three examples where we failed our newly promoted manager by not providing the training and coaching needed for success…

Tom was fantastic with customers, he always asked the right questions, explored the right issues, delivered great results for both the company and our customers. He was a star in our customer service department. So, when it came time to name a new manager for the department, we turned to Tom. He was thrilled with the promotion! And filled with ideas about how the department could be better than ever.

Four months later, we’re having a serious conversation about firing him. 

  1. Two women in his department have raised sexual harassment complaints.
  2. Another person has complained that Tom is overbearing, can’t be satisfied, and micro-manages.
  3. We’ve received a letter from the attorney of a fourth employee in his department claiming retaliation taking time off due to a medical condition.

What happened to our star employee?  Continue reading

Firing Henry: The Hardest Decision You Have to Make

firedFiring someone is the among the hardest decisions a business owner needs to make. And the most necessary.

A long time CEO and I were talking recently about the work of a leader and our conversation turned to the challenge of having the right people on one’s team and taking action when someone is not a good fit and needs to move on.

And here’s the reality: everyone in the organization is watching you.

I’ve found over the years three critical times to take action: Continue reading

Get aligned

When teams are not alignedWhen teams aren’t productive, check to see if they’re aligned…

High performing teams are, unfortunately, rare. Dysfunctional teams are distressingly common. And, even when not dysfunctional, many teams simply are not working together effectively to accomplish results.

Over the years, I’ve found several common threads to this lack of effectiveness: Continue reading

Best Practices in Performance Management

Performance Management Cycle

In an earlier article I talked about the business case for talent management. In this article, I want to explore “performance management” as ONE critical element of an effective overall talent management process.

We all perform better when we have help setting direction and a coach holding up a mirror to let us see where we are and suggesting what we might try differently. These two simple elements are the keys to effective performance management: set expectations and provide feedback. CEOs get this from a good board of directors; most of us can remember benefiting from a good manager giving them to us; and solo entrepreneurs frequently flounder when they do without. Continue reading

Thinking like an owner

think like an ownerEvery so often I’m asked by frustrated business owners, “How can I get my employees to work the way I work, take care of our customers as passionately as I do, bring the same commitment I have?” 

Again tonight a frustrated business owner asked, “I pay everyone very well, I offer great benefits, I pay for people to have their cell phones and all the tools they need. Why am I the only one responding to customer’s calls over the weekend? Why am I the only one jumping in the truck after hours to go fix a problem at a customer’s site? Why don’t my employees make this same commitment?”

In sum, “How do I get my employees to act like an owner?” Continue reading

Yes, I’ve used Forced Stack Ranking

Case for talent managementI’ve commented that forced stack ranking is destructive. But would I ever use it? Yes, absolutely.

But only for very specific objectives and only for limited time.

And that’s the key. Forced stack ranking is a very blunt instrument. It applies an ax where a scalpel is more typically needed. However, that blunt instrument may be just what is needed when: Continue reading

Forced Stack Ranking is Destructive

Stack ranking is not the solutionForced stack ranking has always been the refuge of executives who can’t, or won’t, train managers in effective performance coaching, assessment, feedback and accountability. It’s the easy fix to perceived “grade inflation” when executives believe managers are not being candid in assessing their weaker performers. The process was made popular by G.E.’s famous adoption of this practice under CEO Jack Welsh.

The big problem that proponents of forced stack ranking don’t address is the corrosive impact this practice has on team work and productivity. Continue reading

Talent review – who’s on your bench

In our last article, Succession Planning – Why it matters to you, we discussed the business necessity of ensuring you have the right talent, at the right time, and in the right places. And, we outlined the steps in good succession planning, whether for your executive talent or for your key critical contributors.

This article discusses the 9-Box (or 9-Block) assessment tool, an important tool for assessing who’s on your bench. Continue reading