The ground rules around employment are changing. The carrots of a high salary or a “steady” job no longer hold the allure they once did. The young Gens want flexibility and meaningful work and are likely to move on once the initial excitement of a new workplace wears off. So, what does that mean for talent management in the future?

Companies will have to get a whole lot more innovative and exciting to attract, develop and retain talent. Some companies understand this and think about people as “human beings” not just as a resource, an asset on the balance sheet. More than ever, companies need leaders that are truly inspirational, that actually care about the people they work with, that can put aside their own egos for the greater good.

Engaging leaders who are able to create a supportive and creative culture will make a difference. So how do you know that your leaders are delivering – ask their team members, ask their customers and stakeholders. Give people a voice.

Work environment

What is your work environment like? Is it the sort of place that human beings feel comfortable working or is it a bland box with lines of desks? Ok, so not every workplace can have bouncy castles and slides in their offices but come on, we can certainly use brighter colours on the walls and put a few informal spaces in place.

A great place to work recognises that as human beings we want to look forward to coming into work not dread the presence of a controlling, egotistical line manager and sit at a desk staring at four bland walls all day. We are programmed to socialise to work with others and we want to do a good job, to make a difference and, if possible, to have fun doing it.

Paying attention to the culture of the workplace is key if we are to attract and retain top talent. Looking at working practices, making them flexible and utilising technology all help to build agility into the workplace and make it a company that not only responds to change but thrives on it.

Clear values

Companies need clear values that are brought to life every day. Leaders need to be role models for company values and to develop the team around them. Leaders no longer gain respect from a job title, they have to inspire those around them and earn respect. The key is “empathy”, if you have it you have the basis for being a great leader, to inspire those around you and to attract and retain talent and build that talent pipeline. In the competition for talent what your employees feel, say and see about their place of work matters.

So, in this fast moving age of social media, there is, I believe, one way we can retain talent and that is through inspirational leadership. Inspirational leaders know the difference between management and leadership; they know that to keep a loyal team around you requires trust and openness. They have a compelling vision and develop those around them to continually improve performance. The key is that great leaders create the working conditions that unlock talent, they do not pigeon hole people, they allow people to innovate and to challenge. They create a place where people want to work, where people feel valued and that they are making a difference.

Leaders live the values of the organisation, they bring them to life and act as a role model. It is one thing having stated values but quite another to bring those values to life each day through your behaviours. How often have we seen “respect” as a stated value only to see managers ride roughshod over the opinions and feelings of others?

Leadership behaviour

Leaders need to behave ethically for others to trust them and to want to stay around. Behaving ethically is about being honest with yourself and others, having high standards and leading by example. It is not taking the credit for the work of individuals in the team or about withholding important information.

Great leaders involve people in the decisions that will affect them. How can you expect anyone to be engaged with a company vision if people have not had their say or have not been involved in shaping that vision? The inspirational leader listens to people in the organisation.

I found the following an interesting summary of the differences between management and leadership. Of course we still need to manage the day to day operations but to retain talent we need great leadership skills:

*           Managers focus on systems, leaders focus on people

*           Mangers do things right, leaders do the right things

*           Managers maintain, leaders develop

*           Managers control, leaders inspire trust

*           Managers have an eye on the bottom line, leaders have an eye on the horizon

*           Managers accept the status quo, leaders challenge it

The ability to engage others helps establish an inspirational culture that will enable you to motivate and retain talent. A focus on people development will help to ensure that talent thrives within your organisation. This focus on inspirational leadership, people development and culture cannot always guarantee that talent will remain loyal but it certainly gives you a fighting chance. You are more likely to retain and develop talent if people feel that their role has meaning and that they are valued and developed.

This is not rocket science but it makes a huge difference to organisational success.





Sheena offers a range of HR, organisational development and performance management services and is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD.
She has more than 20 years HR experience working closely with CEOs and MDs to develop, articulate and communicate the business vision and values to employees.