You must decide if people are your competitive advantage, and if they are, you must strategically cause a corporate transformation, adopt a talent mindset and lead the way. Once you adopt and engage the rest of the leadership and management team in a talent mindset, your next step is to develop a talent strategy that lives and breathes throughout the organization. A well-developed talent strategy includes a defined employment brand, workforce planning, myriad ongoing recruitment initiatives, a systemic internal hiring process, a structure for accountability and easy to administer performance management system, a thorough employee development program, and a strong retention strategy.
While small and mid-sized companies have been surviving, their larger and well-resourced competitors have been building and leveraging their people (talent) strategy and are thriving. The good news is that not every key contributor, mission- critical team member and next-level leader chooses to work for larger companies and mega organizations. In all actuality, many have grown despondent and mistrustful of the larger entities and all too often, good workers with fast growth companies look to make a change when the company they helped to build gets too big. This opens the door for solid workers, skilled in growing organizations, to move to start ups and privately held mid-sized companies—and for those companies to capitalize on their unique strengths and perspectives.
Most companies in business today, if they are successful, are hiring. Given the amount of effort and investment needed to create compelling employee retention programs, companies need to evaluate and improve their internal hiring practices so that they are investing in resources that yield a return. If your organization requires solid employee talent in order to compete and grow, adopting a talent mindset and executing a talent strategy is key to your sustainability and success. Institutionalizing key workforce processes and sharing your “people successes” within your management and leadership team, promises to elevate your ability to achieve the results you want.
Many of the highly skilled people that make up the 21st century workforce want to work for companies that make a difference and don’t waste resources.
It does not take a large investment to evaluate roadblocks and red tape that could be in the way of shaving five hours off your employees’ task lists every month.
Making a commitment to evaluate meaningful and lean initiatives that inspire, engage and connect employees to the bigger picture more often than not proves effective in stirring things up and raising the energy. Many progressive companies are implementing systems, processes and structures that improve their employees’ experience of the company. Some of the most popular talent strategy initiatives that companies are rolling out are:
• Standardized quality of hire systems and processes for all new hires
• Structured conscious leadership training and development of emotional intelligence, new manager training and high potential mentoring programs
• Better management throughout the employment life cycle, starting with clear results required in jobs, to compelling and inspiring career pathing
• Cross functional accountability for staffing and retention
• Lean recruiting
• Talent mindset and accountability cultural shift
• Training and coaching in optimized work- forces through a compelling EVP, effective brand messaging, lean recruiting strategies, and 21st century business and employee management principles
• Knowledge transfer programs connecting generations for the purpose of sharing life, business, industry, company and people wisdom
• Transformational shift in HR from the center of compliance to the bridge between business strategy and people
• Deployment of the “Families of Retention” (How to Become an Employer of Choice, Joyce Gioia and Roger E. Herman, 2000)
• Accountability mindset that includes heightened performance management awareness, training, technology and know-how throughout the company
• Intercultural awareness, sensitivity and diversity training and coaching

Purpose & Meaning
Talent strategy begins with creating a vision for the difference your company wants to make, and asking employees for their ideas. As mentioned before; when you build your talent strategy, it is important to harness Stephen Covey’s coaching (stephencovey.com) and begin with the end in mind. What is the result you want to accomplish and how will a robust talent strategy enable those accomplishments? Ask your key people what they want and which ideas inspire them. Conduct confidential employee check-in visits. Consider working with employees to develop professional growth goals and objectives around key initiatives; they will see themselves as part of the larger entity. When people are treated as key contributors and as if their opinions and ideas matter, performance and engagement ignite.
Everyone wants meaning and purpose in their lives. The 21st century employee wants a company that leverages collaboration and team work. Open workspace promotes collaboration, creative problem solving and open lines of communication, as well as stronger opportunities for mentoring and on-the-job coaching. Given that the average person spends close to 80% of their waking hours at work, many people seek meaning and purpose at work; the companies that have figured this out have tapped into the core drivers of their key contributors and build the employee experience around those drivers. They have harnessed the real staying power of a solid retention strategy.
As Jim Collins writes, “It’s about hiring great people and then getting out of their way. Create cross-functional teams to address issues with service delivery, production, product innovation, recruitment, etc. A great way to do this is to institute committees for creative problem-solving; a great venue to do this in is the virtual world, which creates a safe space for collaboration and creativity with little or no judgment” (Good to Great, 2001). To create a space for collaboration, consider removing the cubicles, as most people who choose to come to an office want to work with other people. Another method creating unification and buy-in is to use open-book management (openbookmanagement.com). Open-book management (OBM) is a management phrase coined by John Case of Inc. Magazine in 1993, then popularized by Jack Stack and his team at SRC Holdings. Many companies that practice open-book begin by teaching their employees basic financial literacy; they ensure their employees know the dynamics of supply and demand as well as profit and loss. When they open the books to a new person, they make sure the employee can read and understand profit and loss.