Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Erosion of Talent

The company my wife used to work for not only lost her talents almost 2 years ago but has been losing top talent consistently on an on-going basis. Unfortunately, this company (insurance) has little clue as to the reasons and true cost of the exodus from their ranks.

Most savvy business people recognize the financial cost attached to training new people, in this case, the company has done little to address the real issues affecting their staff. Oh sure, they're generous in many ways, bonuses, Christmas parties, staff motivational training and even cost covering with things like personal counseling for staff and their families. (a great idea)

So why are they failing so brilliantly at staff retention? Work environment and culture - the real underlying culture that exists. Many businesses put on a good show to the outside world in terms of staff treatment and this company is doing a lot right but it hasn't been enough because they've failed to pinpoint the central issues. Every business has those underlying personality conflicts, unwritten rules, secret or internal power struggles that go on, invisible barriers for certain staff on the fast track to nowhere.

Executives in this company have tried to in their own way show they care for their staff, in fact, I know the managing partner to be quite a deep feeling man. Still, they leave.

Solution: Diagnostics - Owners/executives should drill into the true feelings of your staff by inviting staff one at a time to participate in a blind 360 evaluation of strictly the corporate culture, office environment, leave no stone unturned with respect to personality conflicts and most importantly involve the spouse in this 360. They have a unique perspective on how the staff member feels about their work, hearing the work stories every day. Bottomline provide a method for communication about what is really bothering them without retribution and commit to addressing these issues head on, in more than just a global email or memo. If the staff do not see commitment at this stage they'll drop out of participation in the future and you're done for.

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