28 Jun 2016 19:40 IST

Want to attract and retain talent? Be a talent developer

People choose to join a company based on a managers’ reputation

Given that talent is the ultimate source of competitive advantage in an organisation, what do we, as leaders, do to help build a reputation for ourselves and our organisation? How do we make the company a great talent magnet and a leadership academy?

Organisations seldom complain of “suffering” from too much talent. If at all, their lament is about its scarcity in the marketplace. Talent shortage is real and is hurting organisations worldwide, with attracting and retaining good employees being a grave challenge.

However, there are some companies that seem to get ahead by building the requisite talent pool to meet their growth plans. And this isn’t because of a great hiring machinery that the HR has established. The real reason an organisation becomes a talent magnet is because leaders build a reputation for themselves as talent developers.

Gold standard

When managers across all levels assume responsibility to develop talent, they demonstrate a completely different behaviour.

Building a gold standard for talent takes up a lot of their personal time and effort, not to mention priority. They lead the entire talent acquisition process from the front, ably assisted by a competent HR team that facilitates the whole process by reaching out to prospective candidates.

Such leaders or managers imbibe a great passion for managing talent. They share a common vision of building a talent-rich organisation, as they recognise that good employees are key to building and strengthening their firm.

They understand the critical organisational abilities that help execute business strategies and plans. Then, they work with the HR in breaking these capabilities into competencies that every employee must develop and demonstrate.

Know your employee

Leaders assess their people periodically on the competencies appropriate to their roles and prepare development plans for the gaps identified. They craft the employees’ developmental journey with continuous training and coaching support. They also identify those who do not meet the desired performance standards, and help them move out of the workplace.

Managers in such organisations are trained to excel in employee connect. As we read in an earlier column , employee connect is much more than regular intra-company communication. It is about personal touch, emotional support and building employee competence, commitment and contribution.

These managers know their employees so well that they do not require an external consultant to survey the engagement levels. The leaders clearly know and understand the signs of engagement and disengagement, and quickly act on those with necessary steps.

Progressive managers

Corporate leadership council study confirms that employees seldom trade off manager quality for any other benefit, no matter how significant. When an organisation invests in increasing the crop of such managers, its brand also grows as a ‘talent developer’.

Progressive people policies are a critical component of a great place to work, but they are just about as good as their managers use them.

Therefore, the question we, as leaders, have to ask ourselves is: where do I belong, on a scale of 1 to 10, on being a talent developer? It is also important to remember that given the ubiquitous presence and power of social media, each manager’s reputation — good, bad or ugly — is in the public domain.

My experience in over three decades in human resources confirms that people choose to join a company based on the reputation that hiring managers enjoy in the marketplace. To be a great talent developer is more than just building a great reputation — it is also very personally fulfilling.