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Win Win In Winning The War For Talent

Win/Win is not a technique; it’s a total philosophy of human interaction (It is a way of being). In fact, in Stephen Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he quotes that “it is one of six paradigms of interaction.” The alternative paradigms are win/lose, lose/win, lose/lose and Win or No deal.

Win/Win is not a technique; it's a total philosophy of human interaction (It is a way of being). In fact, in Stephen Covey's book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he quotes that

Win/win is a frame of mind, it is a way of being that continually seeks mutually beneficial outcomes. With a Win/Win, all parties feel good about the decision, and feel committed to the action plan.

Applying the Win/Win principle to the “War” for Talent. As the business news media competes for our attention by flashing information on the impending talent shortage, some of us listen with a keen ear, while others turn to more urgent, pressing issues. After 22 years in the human resources business, I don’t need the media to tell me there is going to be a problem; I already feel it in my bones, similar to how my grandfather used to know it was going to rain by his knees aching. When your business is the business of finding talent, you are the first to feel ANY inkling of change in the marketplace.

Although, I may feel like I run a best in class business, and I may have evidence that I know how to skin the cat better than the competitor, Alliance is all the more faced with the challenge of locating new talent for myself and my clients in a diminishing talent pool marketplace.

The looming ‘impending’ talent shortage seems to be creeping up right from under us. Alliance has more specified search requests than we have had in 5 years. As companies proactively deal with succession planning and building bench strength, we are seeing salaries going up, qualifications becoming more stringent, and expected outcomes for the candidates showing up as more measurable, as well as difference-making. All this with less people to choose from makes for a very competitive marketplace for employers and candidates alike.

So, how does a company who has ambitious goals compete for talent in the midst of a WAR for it?

You could outsource. You could offshore. You could take on employing the at home passive work force, like Jet Blue and Southwest. You could take on hiring the flexible work force, students, retirees and parents. You could home grow your talent, become a farm club of sorts, which many of my clients are doing very successfully. You could pay large retainers and then wait while the search firm does the searching. You could develop your company as en employer of choice where win/win is the norm, where people feel they are not just serving your corporation’s needs, but their needs are getting fulfilled as well.

Being an Employer of Choice. One of our clients, FONA International in St Charles, IL., has recently been voted one of the best companies to work for in Chicago. FONA takes a vested interest in their employees. When I met the CEO, Joe Slawek, years ago in a Business Management program, it was clear to me then that he had a purpose for his company, and that each and every employee played a role in fulfilling that purpose. His purpose was far above making profit or gaining market share.

When researching what has people STAY, what I have found is that people STAY because they feel a strong connection with the purpose of the company, with the purpose of their role, and with what it is that they do on a daily basis. It does not matter how YOU interpret their role, it matters how they do.

When an employee is connected with the purpose of the company, as well as with what they produce, the quality of their work is clearly stronger, hence a win for the company, and the customer.

Another Win/Win for the employee, which has them choose to stay put is the amount of personal training and development that they get as a business person, and holistically as an adult in the business world. When an employee is invested in and takes a personal interest in the training that they are receiving, studies indicate that their bandwidth increases, hence their productivity increases, as well as their confidence and willingness to take on additional responsibility, hence a win for the company.

When an employee has the experience that they are a key contributor to the organization, and that they matter in the overall scheme of things, they experience a win/win phenomenon. Whether it is the voice of the company or the top sales person, employees perform better when they know how they fit into the overall picture of the company, its outcomes, and its service delivery.

Quality of Life: if your employees have the experience that you are concerned with the quality of their life, not just what you can get out of them, they actually give you more. Are you creating win/wins at yourplace of business? Are you encouraging fitness programs, time management, and personal development, or any of the aforementioned? Great companies offer their employees opportunities to be the best people they can be so that those employees live powerful lives, and look at work as another powerful part of their life, rather than look at work as life itself.

Empowerment: is your management team clear with expectations? Is your management team effective at communicating and drilling down strategic objectives to the tactical day to day operational tasks? Are your managers expecting greatness from their teams, or are they tolerating mediocrity? Are your people always told what to do, or is your environment conducive to collaboration, creativity and innovation?

Here is the thing, a great performer will NOT stay in an environment where greatness is not expected, and where mediocrity is tolerated. They will leave and go find a place that hires winners and expects those winners to tow the line. Would a world class rower tolerate a non world class rower on the team? How about a sailing team, would they win if one of the members suddenly chose to be an observer? Winners want to win, and any company that wants to hire winners needs to address the issues winners want and expect to see addressed. When a company hires winners and treats them accordingly they stay.

Hiring Right is also a MAJOR ingredient in developing a win/win culture and retaining people. If a company is focused on who they are, their purpose, their core values and who their ideal customer is, they can then be more precise in their identification of the “right” kind of employee; ones who possess certain behavioral traits, communication styles, and personality strengths. If a company hires in the context of who can naturally represent their brand identity, core purpose, and mission, that company is 100% better prepared to deliver on its promises. Once a company aligns their people strategy with their marketing and sales strategy, management can then serve as coaches to partner with their employees and develop them for the next level, rather than tell them what to do, how to do it, and correct what they are doing wrong. Again a win/win.

You could home grow your talent. I have built my business for over a decade by home growing my talent. I have what many companies would call a farm club. I hire people who exemplify Alliance’s corporate values, hold the bar high for them, and then spend my time to develop them. I also have several clients who utilize this method to manage growth, facilitate large new service contracts, and build their bench strength. If a company is clear what great performance is, and who their key performers are, and they have over 9 of those key performers holding similar roles, they can then benchmark these ‘best in class’ people/performers and build a hiring model to identify and select the right players in the future. Of course, if they are going in this direction, they typically have very specific processes and systems in place, and a very strong training program so that the rookies ramp up fast and accurately, and can be on their own producing and serving customers within 6-8 weeks. In the movie Miracle – Kurt Russell’s character did just that, and he built a winning team with a group of guys who had the right stuff, and simply needed direction, coaching and nurturing. Miracle is a true story.

In reality, YES a large group of people are retiring and there are many more Asians in Asia than Americans in America who fill those positions, and yes we all have a need to be concerned. There are many initiatives American companies will need to take to level the playing field and to compete in the war for talent. Creating a win/win, however, starts with who you have now, as well as with developing an employer of choice culture.

So why not create your company as an employer of choice, hire right, and leverage your human capital to its full potential!


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