Are you ready to compete for talent? As our economy cycles, things change and people move. According to recent job satisfaction surveys, about 1 in 3 workers will change jobs in the next 6 months, (Saba), 49.5% of employees are "not engaged" and another 16.5% are “actively disengaged." (Gallup)
Significant numbers of people have stayed in jobs that may have been less than optimal for various reasons while waiting for their “window of opportunity.” Many organizations are now taking a fresh look at making winning cultural moves in order to foster better workforce engagement and retention. As the economy creates better jobs, employers who are unprepared will pay a high price in turnover.

What should forward looking leaders be thinking about?

·       Act Now – Don’t wait. Re-recruit your stars and rising stars. Understand the demographics of your workforce, what motivates them and then get the “word on the street.” What you hear may not match what you think is going on. Do you actually know what they do day in and day out, or do you think you know?

·       Reinforce the direction of the organization and the rationale for actions taken when the economy was softer.   This simple act of sharing the rationale often helps to cement retention by getting to the “Why”. Key Employees are often attracted to the real mission of an organization but cannot subscribe to what they don’t know.

·       Make it an ongoing conversation. Engage in real recurring genuine touch points that connect key employees to their potential career path. Be 100% certain that they understand expectations and know what it takes to be successful. Be mindful of timing as circumstances can change as stars emerge.

·       Dust off Succession Planning – Marry up the needs of the individual and the needs of the organization. Find out what these employees want. What is their desired outcome? Insulate your organization from the coming flirtations from competitors and search firms as employees become less risk averse.

·       Tell High Potential’s (HiPo’s) they are on the radar screen as HiPo’s. Give them exposure to developmental situations where they may have to lead without authority, increasing their ability to influence. As HiPo’s may rise in the organization, their ability to influence on a bigger scale adds value and they become less of a functional expert.

·       Have a real developmental plan to reduce or eliminate limiting behaviors. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on it as it will usually pay off in multiples via retention and productivity. These are the behaviors that often limit a star from rising, things like managerial temperament, communication and presentations skills.

So, are you ready to Compete for Talent?

For a deeper dive please listen to our free VoltCast “On Demand”  



Congratulations:  you are a leader who sets the course for your organization.  Wow, that’s fantastic, but do you feel that you are the only one who cares about the organization?  Why do others look like they are just doing a job?  Fear not!  We have ideas on how to provide a SPARK for others to become more motivated and engaged in your organization.

S – See It and Say It

You must know where you are going for others to buy into your dream.  Joel Barker says, “Vision with action is a dream.  Action without vision is simply passing the time.  Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”

If I went to your employees or key supporters and asked the vision and mission of your organization, would they say the same things?  If not, how do they know if they are doing the right things?  Nail down your vision and mission and then SAY IT!  You must consistently tell folks the right behaviors and let them know what is critical in your organization.  The best way to accomplish this is to Role Model the behaviors you want to see in your team.

Do you want them to act like owners in your company?  If so, ask for their opinions and reward suggestions.  Implement their solutions and give credit for having the courage to speak up!

P – People:  Hire and Develop the Right Talent

The right talent is the engine for you achieving the dreams you had when you started out.  I see business owners and leaders consistently miss on this.  They tend to hire family, friends, or people like themselves instead of what the company needs.

Here are three suggestions to avoid this trap:

·       Write down what you need to be done and be very specific.

·       Always be recruiting.  Talk to people about your company long before you need to hire them so you can know what type of person they are.  Network with leaders, search firms, and at conferences to meet future talent.

·       Finally, make tough choices.  One of my clients let go of someone after thinking about it for two years.  The new hire was outperforming the incumbent within a month and my client is still kicking himself for not acting sooner.

Do you have the right talent around you to achieve your goals?  If not, what are you going to do about it?

A – Action and Attitude

 You must have great expectations for your team members.  They want to be part of something great, so outline your expectations and goals so they know how to be AWESOME performers.

To help your team:

·       Set clear, concise, and SMART goals to make sure you are all on the same page

·       Get small wins

·       Congratulate them on progress and ask them what it will take to get better results

·       Reinforce the key behaviors often.

To help motivate your team members ask:

·       What can I do to help you reach your goals?

·       What can I do to help you develop?

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then is a habit, not an event.”

What habits or key behaviors are you reinforcing?  What attitude are you bringing to work each day?  Does it create an engaging environment?  Choose Your Attitude.

R – Recognition

If you want to create a motivated and engaged team that wants to come to work every day, you need to recognize each person.  Over 64% of employees were not recognized once in the last year, according to the book The Carrot Principle. 

How do you develop the habit of recognition?

·       Ask your team, “When you do something great, how do you want to be recognized?”

·       Put time on the calendar weekly for some recognition.

·       Be specific about what the person did well so they know how to repeat it.

K – Know Yourself

This is the hardest but most essential part of the formula.  You are the face of your organization.  If you look stressed, tired, or frustrated all the time, your employees, customers, vendors, and other leaders wonder how the organization is doing.

Three Tips to Take Care of Yourself:

·       Personal life and professional life can blend together.  Find a way to give your personal life a chance to be the top priority.  Put your personal life on your calendar first so you have to make a choice to move something off your calendar.

·       Find a coach or peer group to share your ideas, challenges, and thoughts.  This can give perspective and provide ideas you might otherwise not see.

·       Learn a small but powerful word - NO!  You might have to use it with a volunteer group, a key customer making unreasonable demands, or an employee’s request.

I hope these ideas SPARK some new ways of thinking for you and help you provide a jolt of energy into your organization.  Good Luck!


“Hey, Jill, you got a minute?” Amy asks.

Jill wearily glances up from her email and turns to see Amy, her superstar employee, in her doorway.  “Sure, I guess.  I am a bit busy with the latest fire drill for senior management.  What do you need?”

“Well, there is no easy way to say this, but I am resigning.  I am going down the road to work for Greener Fields USA.”

Jill, now fully engaged with Amy, says, “I am shocked!  What made you want to do this?  We love you here and your future is so bright.”

Amy says, “Well, it just seemed Greener Fields might offer more development and the work is interesting and exciting to me.”

Has this ever happened to you?  I know it has happened to me and there is nothing worse than losing a superstar.  The worst part is that, when I reflect back, there was so much more I could have done to keep this person with our team.  What about you?  Were there signs?  What would you do differently?

Let’s chat about some ways to retain and engage our superstars.  First, we have to know they are superstars.  Many of us are scrambling through our tasks fighting fires and we do not even notice outstanding performance.  Additionally, we spend an enormous amount of time on our bottom 20% performers; fixing their mistakes, corralling their underperformance, or living in their drama.  Thus, the first question is:  “Do you know who your superstars are?”

Daniel Pink outlined key ways to motivate your team in his book, Drive.  Here are 3 keys:

·       Purpose.  Can you connect your superstar’s work to the company’s core purpose?  If not, why are they working on what they are working on?  When you recognize their performance, connect it to making a difference for the organization, the customer etc.

·       Autonomy.  Are you giving your superstar the room to create their own solutions?  Superstars need some guidance, but they also love room for their creativity so they can grow and develop.

·       Mastery.  Are you allowing your superstars to master what they are working on?   Many times we move our superstars from project to project and burn them out without allowing them time to get great at something.

The biggest complaints I hear from superstars that I coach are that they do not feel recognized for their efforts and that there is not a focus on their development.  The literature suggests that we recognize our team at a rate of five compliments for every one piece of corrective feedback.  Most superstars report about a 1:1 ratio of positive to negative feedback.  Put time on your calendar to recognize all team members, but concentrate some time for your superstars.

The last thought for today is dedicate time on your calendar to provide feedback, coaching, and development for your superstars.  They are doing great work and they want to do even better.  However, we tend to cancel their 1:1s or never quite seem to have enough time to spend with them.  Take time to mentor your superstars and see what happens!