No Matter What Type of Transition You Choose, Managing Your Talent Is Paramount
Business owners steer their organizations through a series of transitions as they grow their businesses. Transitions directly impact people, and without good leadership, guidance and communication, people worry and feel anxious and vulnerable, and often become disenfranchised from a shared vision and common purpose.
Most transitions are predictable, such as when companies grow from a 10-person company to a 50-person company and people need to be more specialized and less a jack of all trades; or when companies break certain revenue hurdles and it becomes necessary to infuse the company with new and more experienced talent; or when companies are sold to new owners or transitioned to the next generation and employee engagement is imperative to maintaining productivity.
Talent management offers a valuable methodology for aligning the goals of your company with your people during critical periods of change. Whether re-allocating resources, preparing for growth, enhancing value or posturing for sale, there is a set of processes that ensure you have a strategic understanding of your talent. A comprehensive understanding of your talent allows leaders to be agile because the more people are engaged in your mission, the more they can be relied on to facilitate a successful change instead of being the very force that stalls or deters it.
- Build A Strong Culture – Employee engagement is an underutilized tool for developing a mutually rewarding agreement between company goals and employee goals. Employee engagement is achieved when employees feel they have clear job objectives, the tools to accomplish the objectives, opportunities for development and are appreciated and valued. In return, employees perform at high levels of productivity, demonstrate a positive attitude and develop good working relationships with others.
- Empower Strong Leaders – Managing people is easier said than done. People are idiosyncratic and relationships are dynamic. It is also a privilege and obligation to be in the unique position to provide direction, guidance and feedback to a team and the individuals on the team. Leaders must do a few things well. Communication involves the vision, expectations and performance feedback. Motivation involves appreciation, recognition and confidence. Evaluation involves recognizing how talent can be shared and connected to others across the enterprise.
- Cultivate Talent – Talent management has three specific functions: Hire new talent. Develop existing talent. Promote top talent. Too often, recruiting talent is viewed as a cost, a burden and a perfunctory task, and all but divorced from the strategic endeavor of succession planning. We are what we eat. Leaders must have the highest standards, consistent processes and meaningful conversations about each phase of cultivating talent. Talent is what drives your bottom line, keeps customers and expands markets.
- Facilitate Mutually Rewarding Transitions – Transitions involve several stakeholders (individuals and/or entities) with different but equally important objectives. The predecessor desires to leave a strong and enduring legacy. The successor desires to take on something viable. The employees desire to be in the loop; whatever the outcome they want to be ready, not ambushed or undermined. It is fundamental to recognize that people within organizations have reason to make transitions work.
Remember that people adapt to change at different speeds. Some are quick adapters and others, late. Don’t buy into the campaign that people don’t like change. Instead, make sure people have time to learn new behaviors to replace old habits.
An engaged work force, strong leadership and continuous development of talent are the keys to mutually rewarding transitions at every stage of businesses evolution. Comprehensive talent management ensures the goals and objectives of a business are aligned to the best-suited talent in the organization. Talent management makes you agile and ready for anything.
Originally published in Crain’s Cleveland Business Blog on October 09, 2013.