Eric Garton, the author of this HBR article makes some great practical suggestions on how to manage talent. I am sure you will find at least one useful suggestion to apply to your business. I highly recommend it.
However, it is not the full story.
I strongly believe that many companies already have great talent that is being wasted. There are many reasons for this. One big reason is that the environment they work in diminishes their ability to flourish. It is not safe for them to be their best – to challenge themselves and the company. That is, to make mistakes. Innovation and growth are messy. Mistakes are inherent in the process.
Simon Sinek tells an illustrative story of a barista that works at two different hotels chains in Las Vegas. In one he feels safe and well looked after. Every day, managers walk by and ask him how he is doing and how they can help him to do his job better. Not just his manager – EVERY manager. In the other hotel, he does not feel safe. He is monitored to make sure he is doing everything right. They are looking exclusively for mistakes to correct and problems to fix.
The first company knows that if the employees feel well cared for and safe, they will, in turn, take great care of the customer. The other touts the old adage, “The customer comes first”. This well-intentioned adage implies that those who work here are not as important as customers. No doubt customers are important but they come and go. Your team shows up every day for years and sometimes decades. They have been with you through the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, the successes and the failures.
SouthWest Airlines, The Container Store, Google, The Four Seasons, Costco, Barry-Wehmiller Companies and others show that the bottom and top lines are better served when the company focuses on the people first. They create a circle of trust. That circle of trust extends all the way from the C-Suite to the front line. When that happens the customer is invited into the circle and is delighted by the experience.
Who comes first in your company?