Preempt The Coming Wave Of Talent Poaching

By Ram Charan and Geraldine Willigan

It’s about to get uglier in the war for talent. Follow these four steps to get ready—so you’re not on the losing side of the battle.

Most companies are gearing up for exponential growth after Covid, but a harsh reality could destroy their plans. The breakneck speed of economic recovery and the emergence of SPACs have unleashed a severe talent shortage and a poaching frenzy that could rob you of the talent you are counting on to grow.

My daily contact with business leaders across the globe shows that no company has all the talent it needs internally, and every company is vulnerable to losing the talent they have. Competing for talent is a necessity, and it is not a level playing field.

Businesses owned by PE firms and SPACs are snatching talent by offering huge upsides tied to increases in market capitalization. Now some specialized headhunters are also upping the stakes by investing in companies they conduct searches for, thus benefitting from equity increases, not just fees, when they dedicate themselves to recruiting the right talent—perhaps from your company!

In fact, the more successful you are, the more likely you will become a target of talent poaching. Business Insider reported that between January 2020 and April this year, Amazon lost some 10% of its VPs and above, and its finance executives are in high demand.

A headhunter may see your company as a source of talent for multiple clients. Or another company may simply see your key person as the best fit for their needs. Losing one key person may mean losing many more if the person takes his or her team along, as is common in financial services firms. It has happened with marketing and sales teams and in the semiconductor industry.

?You must be preemptive in acquiring and protecting talent, meaning that you have to anticipate and act now. Who in your company might be targeted? What gaps do you need to fill? Where will shortages intensify?

It’s not enough to guard against the poachers. You must overcome your hesitation to do some poaching of your own. Here are some specific actions that will help.

1. Identify your critical talent.

Being preemptive means knowing who is central to your company’s value creation and preventing them from becoming susceptible to outside offers. It may mean breaking conventional HR practices to promote someone two levels or to double their compensation.

Segment your talent by thinking about skills and the market cap they could create in the future. Those who are critical to the company’s digital transformation, and in particular its money-making model, is one clear segment. A second segment is those who use social media to enhance your brand and target customers. A third is leaders of technical experts in a team-based structure. The need for organizational agility is pushing companies to organize work into teams, as Fidelity Personal Investing did. Every cross-functional team needs a leader. Talent shortages are likely in each of these segments, and you may have others.

Identify important individuals too. Steve Jobs recognized the outsize role designer Jonathan Ive played at Apple. Similarly, Mehmood Khan, an endocrinologist whom then Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi recruited to a newly created role of chief scientific officer, was key to making the Pepsi more health oriented. One biotech company I work with put extra effort into retaining a PhD who was a magnet for other researchers. His diverse pool of scientists were at the heart of the discovery that investors were banking on.

Continue reading

These are the 8 habits that every great leader must develop

By Jeff Haden

Every once in a while, even though the room is full of experienced and successful people , you meet a leader who stands out. You can know in an instant that they act, think and guide differently than any other leader.

But those individuals did not become great leaders overnight. Although some were born with certain aptitudes to be it, the reality is that they are formed through training, experience and a healthy dose of introspection to make quick and correct decisions. They learn to work with different personalities. They discover how to nurture, motivate and inspire.

Do you want to become a great leader? Work hard to achieve it in a natural, automatic and instinctive way. Start by cultivating these eight habits:

1. They turn to praise. It’s easy to see when an acknowledgment is simply a pretext for assigning a long list of tasks. We have all been around people who occasionally shake hands. No matter how much they want to fake it, their dishonesty is evident (tell me if you haven’t had at least one boss like that).

Praise is almost like breathing for an effective leader: natural, aromatic, frequent, and most of all, genuine and sincere.

2. They decide. Ideas are great, but implementation is everything. Great leaders measure, evaluate and decide almost immediately, this because decision and action gives them confidence and momentum. So bad decisions are better than no decisions at all. Errors can almost always be corrected.

3. They accept responsibility. We all make bad decisions. What matters is what we do after we make those mistakes. Great leaders are the first to say “I was wrong” or “I made the wrong decision; we need to change course ”. They hold themselves accountable and desperately want to build a culture where mistakes are challenges to overcome, not opportunities to point fingers and blame someone.

4. They communicate. Business is full of “what”: what to implement, what to execute, what to say, and sometimes what to feel. What is missing is a “why”. This is why many projects, processes and tasks fail.

Managers stipulate. Great leaders explain and then listen, because the most effective communication happens when we listen, not when we speak.

5. They set the example. Imagine that you are walking through the factory with the plant manager and there is a piece of garbage on the floor. There are two types of people in this situation:

One who sees it, stops, takes it, walks 20 steps to the garbage can and throws it away. He picked up the trash but also gave a message.
The other sees it, picks it up and keeps the garbage until he sees that a garbage can is nearby. He is not thinking of giving a message. He only saw some trash and picked it up without thinking.
Why is this important to employees? When you’re in charge, everyone sees what you do. The difference is how you do it and what that says about you. Great leaders do that because it is important to them.

6. Give feedback. We all want to improve: to be more skilled and successful. This is why we need constructive feedback. Because they care about their employees, not just as workers, but as people. Great leaders go to the one with problems and say “I know you can do that and I will help you.” Great leaders naturally try to change their lives because they care.

7. They seek help. At some point, many people in a leadership position avoid showing vulnerability . After all, you are in charge, so you are supposed to know everything. Of course that’s impossible. Great leaders don’t claim to know everything (in fact they must hire people who know more than they do) so they instinctively ask questions and automatically ask for help. In that process they show vulnerability, respect for the knowledge and skills of others and the willingness to listen, all great qualities of a leader.

8. Challenge. Most leaders implement their ideas by reinforcing processes and procedures that support their ideas. For employees, commitment and satisfaction are based on autonomy and independence. They care much more when it is their idea, process or responsibility.

Great leaders create standards and guidelines and then challenge their employees to give them the autonomy and independence to work their best. They allow employees to change “theirs” into “ours,” transforming work into an external expression of each person’s unique skills, talents, and experiences.


The Surprising Power Of CEO Gratitude

By Dan Bigman

For more than 20 years Chester Elton and his co-author Adrian Gostick have been studying and writing about teams, about corporate culture, about leadership, all while coaching thousands of CEOs at businesses large, medium and small. Across all of this, they’ve stumbled upon a single constant among all the top performers, one that might not be what you’d expect.

“As we studied the best teams, the best leaders, the best cultures, there was always this thread of gratitude—always,” he says. “And so it became very apparent that it wasn’t a nice-to-have if you were to be a great leader. It was an absolute must-have.”

That insight led to their book Leading With Gratitude (Harper Business, March 2020), which was—in a stroke of unbelievably good or bad timing, depending on your perspective—published just as Covid hit the U.S. last year.

Now, as the nation moves out of the pandemic nightmare, I thought it was a good time to check in with Elton about the power of gratitude in the workplace—and why, as he says, it has become perhaps the essential leadership skill right now. Highlights of our conversation, edited for length and clarity, follow:

We’re back in a hyper-competitive market for talent. We’re all going to be competing for the same workers and now lots of them can work anywhere. In this market, is gratitude going to be more of a requirement for CEOs and senior leaders?

Yes. Because if you talk about retention, you don’t leave people that love you. The number one reason people leave a job is the relationship with their immediate supervisor. If you want turnover, don’t use gratitude. If you want people to stay, let them know that they matter.

Continue reading

Fight the fatigue that’s killing your team’s productivity

by Wanda T. Wallace

In the past six months, I have been inundated with requests from leaders about how to increase motivation in themselves and their teams. After further discussion, it becomes clear that the root of the problem isn’t a lack of motivation — it’s fatigue. In just about every training or leadership counseling session I hold, anywhere in the world, I see the impact of fatigue, that overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. A CEO snaps at a junior colleague over a relatively small error. A senior executive vents for an hour over nothing in particular. A consulting firm boss pushes junior team members to work 100-hour weeks over unsubstantiated concerns about client engagement. Strong leaders question if they are doing enough, even though they feel they are at the end of their tether.

These are all signs of sustained stress. None of these leaders would normally react this way. But lockdowns and restrictions on leaders’ typical means of relaxation, such as vacations, travel, and socializing, are taking their toll. The same is true for all employees: Long periods of stress and extended hours, without the usual ways of renewing energy, can and will elicit suboptimal, even damaging behaviors. Those behaviors compromise a team’s energy, efficiency, innovation, and ultimately their performance.

A few statistics paint a clear picture:

• More than 80 percent of 1,265 U.S. workers surveyed in June 2020 by Lyra Health and the nonprofit National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions said they had experienced negative emotions associated with poor mental health, with a third reporting clinical anxiety or depression.

• The same survey showed that 65 percent of respondents reported that mental health issues had impacted their ability to work, with 40 percent reporting being close to burnout.

• Data from the 2018 Mental Health Foundation survey of 4,619 people in the U.K. shows similar findings.

Continue reading

Return to the office: Organizational resiliency and the new normal

By Rick Grinnell, Contributor, CIO

Over the past 14 months, organizations have had to navigate the abrupt discontinuity caused by COVID-19 and the ensuing regulations. Today, sports fans are returning to arenas and students are back in schools, but most office workers are still on work-from-home orders. Returning to the workplace will constitute a new normal, but what will that look like in an unknown post-COVID world?

I spoke to several CEOs, CIOs, and CISOs (all in the US) to understand how they fared over the past year – what went right, what didn’t go so well – and to learn their plans for reopening their offices for the majority of their employee base. The executives represent a cross-section of some of the most forward-thinkers in financial services, insurance, media, and technology. The comments I heard demonstrate the resilience and adaptability of corporate America.

Positive takeaways from the past year of work-from-home

While the pandemic affected everyone, it didn’t impact every company or industry the same way. Across the board, however, business leaders said that despite the tragedy of the situation, there were several positive outcomes. In particular, the forced remote work environment accelerated their corporate digital transformation, making them more competitive and putting them in a dynamic position sooner than planned.

Continue reading