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Maree's Blog

How To Retain Your Talented People

Retain Your Talented Peopled

Empowering You For Leadership No 3

Every week I select two articles I’ve read that I believe will enhance and empower the leadership of my readers.

There is presently an overwhelming global concern among CEOs and senior leaders about their inability to find talented people with the right skills for the job. One of the most important skillsets they are looking for is the soft skills for leadership, the ability to lead people, to engage them so they become intrinsically motivated to give 150%.

When I ask people in my leadership workshops: “Why do you want to lead?” I rarely get an answer that says anything about people. Most leaders do not aspire to being people managers. They want to make a difference, bring about change in some amorphous thing called “the organisation”. They don’t seem to recognise that organisations don’t change, people change and they change organisations. They also do not understand that you manage tasks and lead people and that the skills required for both these realities are quite different.

So if they do not have the skills to engage and lead their people to work with them, they will not be able to make the impact they want to make. It is as much about the soft skills they need for leadership as it is about strategy.

But the challenge is not only about attracting the right people with the right skillsets. It is also about how to retain them. It’s about looking after them. I have written often about how leaders need to do that because their people are their greatest asset. If they don’t look after them they very readily become their greatest liability. They disengage, do as little as they have to and then leave. And if they are the most talented people, there is a great gap left which then has to be filled. Surprisingly those same leaders are shocked that the person would leave because they were totally unaware that anything was amiss with that person.

That leaders learn the soft skills to lead their people in these times of great uncertainty and unpredictability is crucially important. These are the leaders that people will want to WORK WITH not just WORK FOR. There is a great difference.

Two articles I’ve read this week are very helpful here.

One is an article in Forbes titled “The Leadership Traits that are Essential for Retaining Top Talent”. It’s an analysis of a report by Peakon on “The 9-Month Warning: Identifying Quitters Before It’s Too Late.” It emphasises the importance of soft skills for leaders in retaining their talented people.

Three key points the report made were:

  • People don’t leave a challenging workload, but rather unchallenging work.
  • People leave when they can’t discuss pay, not when they feel under-rewarded.
  • People leave managers, not colleagues, culture or company, that “managers can play a major role in designing motivating, meaningful jobs.”

The second article is referred to in that same report and supports its findings. It is from the Harvard Business Review, titled “Why People Really Quit Their Jobs.” It emphasises that people don’t quit their jobs. They quit their bosses.

Both these articles and the reports highlighted within them are valuable resources for organisations and their leaders who want to retain their talented people. They both have insights and strategies for how you can do that. They also highlight the skills that leaders need to engage those talented people and inspire them to stay.

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