Top talent talks about the importance of culture

Here we are wrapping up the series, “The 5 C’s of Retaining Top Talent.” Now it’s time to link connection, collaboration, change and consistency to culture. And culture, according to some top performers across several industries, was the difference maker in their decision to stay in their current role, or to leave and explore finding success elsewhere.

Mariann is considered one of the brightest in her organization. She is a thought leader and someone who loves coaching, mentoring and developing excellence in her team. Every year she receives a glowing performance evaluation and an increase in her salary. When she emailed me after the first column of this series, she shared that she was regretfully leaving her job and team that she loved. Her reason was that after watching the culture of the organization deteriorate, and with empty promises to change, she ultimately resigned.

Her email was reflective of many I have received over the past few weeks. Organizations who are losing people are losing them largely because of the perceived negative, caustic, toxic, and confrontational environment they find themselves now working in.

Dave, a top performing salesperson is consistently in the top five amongst the salespeople in his company. He emailed me to say he was glad that culture was on the list. He reported that he had left a numbers driven, operations driven culture that never supported the sales team. As a matter of fact, he called them the sales prevention department. He left because he heard about the positive, high-energy, sales culture at his current company. He sought them out even though they weren’t looking for any new salespeople at the time. He says that “Luckily, and thankfully they saw me as a fit and offered me a job. The culture here rocks.”

We are living in very complex times, and it seems that no matter what we do as business owners, or executives leading a company, the diverse make-up of opinions, likes, dislikes, preferences, and attitudes of our team members makes it almost impossible to please everyone. Right now, if you happen to be at a place where the culture of the organization is eroding and people are leaving, there is still hope. There is still time to start making changes or leading differently…

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Improve retention with persistent consistency

As we continue to talk about hiring and keeping a productive and performance-driven team, we must include “Consistency” in our “5 C’s for Retaining Top Talent.” This is the fourth column in a five-part series, and we will conclude next week with “Culture,” and how to develop that winning culture where people are not only eager to join us but will also want to stay with us.

And thank you all for the email messages, your feedback is always appreciated. Many of you have mentioned a few other “C’s” that should have been included, and yes, I could have easily made this a 10-part series by adding communication, creativity, cross-training, compelling, caring, compensation, and many others that many of you had suggested. All great words for sure, and I will do my best to incorporate them in a future column.

When I settled on the 5 C’s, consistency was important because when we reviewed data and survey results for the reasons people were leaving their position, a “lack of consistency” was cited as one of the challenges they faced. When I asked for some more detail about that lack of consistency, there were a few areas worth mentioning to help us as business owners and leaders to avoid the same mistakes associated with inconsistencies.

The biggest area of concern was around the lack of consistency in what is said, written on the walls, and published on the company website when it comes to mission, vision, purpose and values. Many exiting employees felt like these words were nothing more than a sales pitch to attract people, appease current employees, and create a public image that sounds good. Sadly, they reported that what was publicly stated was often not lived out by senior leadership, management or ownership of the company…

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How we manage change impacts retention of the best

Welcome back to part three of this five-part series on “The 5 C’s of Retaining Top Talent.” In week one we discussed the importance of connecting with our team members, and last week we added a discussion around collaboration. Recognizing that everyone on our team, including our top performers, wants to be part of the creative and strategic thinking that will lead to personal and professional success.

Next up is the role of change and how managing change can make or break us when it comes to attracting, hiring, developing, and retaining top performers.

As I prepared for this series, I had time to spend a few hours on my favorite beach. A beach I knew growing up, and a beach I visited often even after moving to Colorado. And as I walked along the shoreline, I thought about how much I have seen the beach change over the years. And although it changes with every storm, wind gust, and tide, it is still the beach.

Superstorm Sandy back in 2012 leveled most of the homes along this stretch of beach. Most of which have been rebuilt, even more beautifully than before. Dredging and relocating sand has also played a role in the protection of the beach from the erosion that comes along with the storms, winds, and tides…

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Collaboration is key to your most valuable players

As part two of the series on “Retaining Top Talent,” and following up on last week’s column on connection, today we will visit the role that collaboration plays in keeping top talent. Some of the most productive meetings I have ever been a part of included collaboration. Whether it was just two of us or several people in the room, harnessing the power of collaboration always yielded the greatest results.

Think of the world we live in for a moment. We are social beings communicating and sharing information through social media. Although there are those of us who prefer to work alone, the lone wolf mentality has slowly become a thing of the past. We now recognize and understand the value in collaborating with those around us, especially those who are a bit smarter and have additional insights to offer.

One of the key challenges that has plagued organizations of all sizes is that of operating in silos, where departments, and individuals work independently with minimal communication. This is a clear recipe for disaster and yet it is still happening today. The frustrating thing for most companies is that this doesn’t need to happen. Even in the age of the remote workforce, managing and motivating the remote worker, and communicating remotely, it has never been easier to collaborate.

Shared information inspires shared thinking. And shared thinking is the foundation of productive collaboration. As one of my colleagues reminded me recently, we may not always agree, but if there is an understanding that there are no bad ideas, only better ones, we can increase our chances of coming up with new and better solutions or approaches to solving problems…

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The 5 C’s to retaining top talent starts with connection

This is the first in a five-part series on best practices for attracting, hiring and keeping top talent. Over the next several weeks we will explore the 5 C’s that can help us better understand our employees and team members and how we can create a top performing organization that attracts the very best people. Those 5 C’s are Connection; Collaboration; Change; Consistency; and Culture.

In a recent review of why people leave their jobs and looking at results from across multiple industries and organizations, it seems like the notion that people are leaving jobs only because of a better earning potential elsewhere is not entirely accurate. Sure, everyone would like to earn as much as possible, but no longer are they willing to work in conditions or situations that are not in alignment with personal preferences, expectations and goals. Nor do they want to work in a place that makes them miserable.

Money is certainly a motivator, but depending on the data or source, money typically is a lower priority or reason that inspires someone to leave their current position. When we look closely at the current rate of job openings and the difficulty companies are having filling key positions, we might find the solution in the first C, “Connection,” when it comes to attracting and retaining top performers and the future leaders of our organizations.

When I look at company websites and interview current employees and leadership, I look for ways that the company connects team members at every level with the goals and objectives of the organization. Every business is in business to provide goods, service or solutions to their clients. The question I like to ask is this, “Is everyone on the team connected to the impact that the products or services provide to the client?”…

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Adding experience to life’s greatest teachers

This column is dedicated to all the wonderful and committed teachers in our communities. Before the pandemic began, they already had my deepest respect. So, a big shout out to each teacher in my life who helped me in some way along life’s journey — I appreciate you all so much.

Teachers have a special gift and calling. Yet, teachers are also grossly overworked and underpaid — and in many cases, overly criticized and underappreciated. All of this has become amplified over the past 19 months as our already stretched education system is caught in the collateral damage of the pandemic and other societal pressure points.

Masks, vaccinations, social distancing, hybrid learning, conflicting curriculums, forced curriculum change mandates, belief systems, gender designations and constrained budgets all coming to a boil of disruption at the same time. My admiration for the teaching community only increases as they continue to pour into their students while giving tirelessly of themselves.

By the way, I am including the entire teaching community. Educators at every level, coaches, mentors, trainers and corporate learning teams — each person who has a platform to develop their students, learners and those they coach must deal with the very same things that someone who is teaching in a classroom, teaching virtually or in some hybrid delivery model…

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Decaffeinate and de-escalate

On any given day I will usually have one or two cups of coffee in the morning. On those days where I have three or four, I feel a very palpable difference … I am wired. I also notice that I am a bit more anxious and a lot more impatient.

For me, I cannot drink coffee at night for this very reason. I would be up all night. We all respond differently to caffeine, some get wired like I do, and others can drink coffee all day without losing the ability to fall asleep at night.

As I look around at what is happening in our country and around the world, I feel like maybe, just maybe there are way too many over-caffeinated people out there. Violent crimes, verbal attacks, road rage, stadium brawls, random acts of violence and other assaults on humanity are occurring with greater frequency, and in some cases, an all-time high.

I am not a clinical expert, but anxiousness, fear, doubt and worry seem to be at an all-time high as well. It’s like we are going to our favorite coffee shop asking for a double shot of impatience with extra anxiety. Or we are making our own coffee at home, maybe the double espresso anger brew with some steamed “Hurray for me and the heck with you” creamer…

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The Elegant Solution is Thinking Before Speaking

There is a time and place for pithy remarks, sarcasm and even bad jokes. OK, well maybe there is never a good time for bad jokes, but pithy remarks and sarcasm, absolutely.

The world has been dealing us some very serious situations. There are many among us who deal with serious situations through humor. Whether we are trying to mask our own fears or concerns, and/or we are trying to lighten a mood for others around us, the smart play is to read the room first. Many a poorly timed great joke or spontaneous one-liner has been met with incredulity and awkward silence.

Many of us have found ourselves apologizing once we realized the impact that our comment or joke had on those around us. Having been that person who carelessly and thoughtlessly made a bad choice of words, and did so more than once, I know firsthand what it feels like to wish I could immediately take back what I had said.

Now I am not referring to political correctness where some of us get easily offended by the slightest offhanded remark or jab. I will reserve that for another column. What I am referring to here is having situational awareness and sensitivity to what is going on around us at any given moment…

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Rules and Roles in an Ever-Changing Game

If the game itself isn’t changing, the rules often do. Sometimes, any change to the rules could make the game harder to play and challenging to follow. We see penalties assessed and wonder why. Or we see very clear infractions, with no penalty called.

There are the games, and then there is gamesmanship, and the difference between the two will often determine the outcome. Some of us love games, many referring to ourselves as “Gamers.” And then there are those who prefer some other type of entertainment or activity, the “non-Gamers.”

There are some games where the rules have remained hard and fast since the game was invented. And then there are those other games being played where the rules change every so often. In the interest of creating a better experience, the rules change so that the game becomes faster, more exciting, or more challenging, all to generate greater interest. The rules of the game may also change as technology advances. When this happens the powers that be try and level the playing field by changing the rules.

Although many of us have learned to gamify our work and our activities so that we can stay interested, stretch ourselves, and perform at a higher level, not everyone looks at life as a game. And with everything that is happening in the world right now, it is easy to understand why…

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Achieving Success Starts with Defining Success

The children laughed at one another as each took a turn playing the game. With each passing turn, the children laughed harder, cheering on their friends. The game they were playing was “pin the tail on the donkey.” As each attempt found its way somewhere other than the donkey, the farther away the tail landed, the greater the laughter.

A blindfold makes it hard to hit a target that cannot be seen, especially after being spun around a few times before walking dizzily toward our destination. Although this is a game, with the players being blindfolded, there is still an intended target. It’s one thing to try and hit a target we cannot see, but something else altogether to hit a target we don’t have.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”

Lewis Carroll

When pursuing personal growth or professional development goals, I have found that whatever it is that we are trying to achieve can be found in one of these four categories: increase, improve, expand, and/or reduce.

It is also helpful to make a distinction between increase and improve. As an example, a business looking to define success and align key performance goals may identify the need to increase revenue while at the same time improving their margins. Individuals I have worked out with may look to increase strength while improving stamina. And when we separate the two words, increase and improve, we are defining very clear goals and targets for each.

Some of us look to expand our capabilities in an area of our life or business. We may want to expand our knowledge or skill. Some of us may look to expand our thinking to gain a better understanding of the people in our lives and events happening around the world. We can look for opportunities to open more stores or locations, expanding our market share, or expand our offerings and customer base…

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