Sounds easy right. Talented people want to make big things happen and progress. They demand and produce, disregard and challenge, defy and innovate, create and rebel they ask us the dreaded question “why”. Talented people want to work for leaders, not managers. If you are in a management position chances are high you are like that too. Talented employees want leaders who can expand their knowledge and skills, making them better.
- Serve your team: What are you doing to support your team today? We hire people to make our jobs easier but it swings both ways. You will gain more if you focus on how best to serve them, remove obstacles, deliver focused and strategic direction, minimise distractions end excuses, find resources, simplify processes. Fundamentally change the way you think about the relationship and figure out what holds your team back and fix it.
- Drive a culture of authenticity: “People don’t leave jobs or companies; they leave managers.” It’s true that many people will stay at a job despite it being inconvenient to get to, with low pay if they have a manager that inspires them. The great leaders are authentic, approachable and they are interested in the success of each employee’s personal mission. Say hello to everyone, talk and listen to your people, take the time to coach and develop. Understand that neglect only reinforces bad habits, distraction, stagnation and lack of engagement. Provide regular feedback on performance, have one on ones monthly with direct reports to discuss where they have come from and where they are going to. Being authentic and knowing your people grants you the ability to know when and how hard to push and when you need to pull back.
- Don’t stop learning: When you are learning so are your people. Constantly ask questions, be curious and never satisfied. Change isn’t a threat, it’s an opportunity. Do not be afraid of the answers to why questions. It can uncover the root cause of problems while keeping your people’s self-esteem intact. A great tool is the “five why” technique. Asking “why” at least five times when debriefing a problem. By peeling further and further into the issue, you can determine true root cause. Only then can you be assured that corrective action will produce a lasting impact. Coach your team to do the same.
- Pay It Forward: Everyone starts somewhere, but talented people are ambitious. They care where they want to go and they will choose to follow you if they believe you can get them there. Take time to help your people understand the business. Expose them to every part. Develop and coach them with the awareness of the reality that the job is only a stepping stone for them. Help them find new connections and mentors. From little things big things grow and you will reap the rewards in performance, innovation and efficiencies.
- Provide positivity: Talent is always looking for a way to say yes. The great leaders listen and genuinely aren’t afraid of bad news and criticism, even when it reflects poorly on them. Be open to constructive debate, it leads to possible alternatives. Don’t hold grudges or rub someone’s nose in it when they are wrong, instead focus on what was learned. Keep them thinking, inventing and coming forward but always take action together. You are in control of how positive your team is.
- Operate with trust: Give your people ownership then get out of their way. Let them test, discover, experiment and interpret. Let them ask questions and guide their people towards outcomes. Let them find a way to do their best. When mistakes happen, give your people support. Back them up instead of sacrificing them and in return you gain loyalty.
- Let your people see your passion: How do you feel when you see something and think “That was me, I helped make that work.” For me it’s one of the most powerful feelings and one of my greatest motivations. Talented people want to be part of something bigger. Recognize those moments for your people and capitalize on them. Your people want to feel essential, to see their ideas, blood, sweat and tears produce something significant. Deliver credit where and when it’s due. Over time you need to embed loyalty and passion in something that in many cases will be there long after you have moved on. Share your passion for what you do.
- Strive for the best: Your example should mean you don’t have to “demand” excellence. Endeavour to have your team know the bar is set high and big things are expected every day. Ask “Is this the best we can do?”. Assist your people to set goals to maintain focus. Compel continuous learning to keep them sharp and demand outcomes. Push hard but recognise limits, it’s your job to nudge your people to that level. Show them that’s why your team, their team outperforms everyone else.
As a manager put some effort into your number one job… To attract, find and keep talented people.