Archive for the 'Retaining Top Talent' Category

Generation Y need special care

I was not surprised to recently read that graduates aged around 29 feel unappreciated, unrewarded and unless it changes are about to leave the games field (their current employers) and take their ball with them.

As we know generation Y refers to people born between 1985 and 2000 and if one believes the Great Expectations Report published by ILM and Ashridge Business School their expectations of employment aren’t being met.

They had better get used to it
When I told a friend of this his reply was “Well, they had better get used to it. Who’s expectations are being met in this current business climate” and then went on to talk about the “poor products” that come out of universities and business schools that I thought a bit harsh.

However, the research in the report states that 45% of the group believe their salaries are below expectations. 38% think their career opportunities disappointing and that over one third (40%) will be thinking of leaving their current job within twelve months.

Talent pipeline
Whilst this report shouldn’t be a surprise, as far as my experience goes if you ask any group of employees if they are happy a large proportion won’t be and will be looking for employment elsewhere. However, for businesses trying to create a pipeline of talent able to be the managers of the future the thing I would suggest is not to panic. Some turnover is good and if you’re hanging onto the majority of the employees you find most useful through targeted actions then it’s as good as one can hope for.

Then again there was the useful piece of advice from the ILM Chairman Peter Cheese, “How employee groups are managed is integral to holding onto them.”
Now there’s something new!

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Tips to Retaining Talent

It seems that “losing top talent to competitors” is keeping some senior Directors awake at night. In the past few days I’ve been approached by three different companies asking for help to reduce the risk that their top talent might leave the team.

Here are just three of the tips I advise my clients when advising on retaining talent.

1) Ask yourself the reasons why the talent joined your team in the first place. (Was it challenge of the work, learning opportunities, career path, the business looked great on their CV, resume?). Are these reasons still relevant and are they still being delivered?
If not then the talent is at risk of leaving.

2) Ask yourself the value of your “Poach Rate”. The “Poach Rate” is the additional percentage in salary that a competitor would need to offer to steal your talent. The higher the percentage increase in salary the more your talent values working for your team. If the competitor only has to offer an additional 2-5% salary increase then the reason for leaving is more likely to be poor management, poor culture, few learning opportunities etc.

3) Meet and observe your top talent. Not just at appraisal times but regularly.
Listen and look at the way they walk, talk, dress, engage with customers and colleagues at meetings. (I often go into a business and find that I can identify a talent that’s “on the way out” by just looking at how engaged they are. But then I do this as a matter of norm and often I’m not wrong!)
Ignoring talent because you believe it’s happy, or you’re too busy to observe it, tends to increase the risk that it will leave.

Finally it’s worth considering that the day a talented member of your team tells you they are leaving your team is probably six months after they made the decision to do so!

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“Healthy growth next year but…”

One of my best friends popped in for dinner last night. Over drinks we talked about how his business was managing with the financial downturn. Increases in unemployment, London riots and business difficulties were all discussed but I was delighted when he told me that his business was “Doing better than expected”. I heard about the new business plan that I expect will generate a healthy growth for the next year.

“What keeps me awake at night”
He’s managed to avoid laying people off work and whilst he wasn’t hiring people he was intending to restructure his team. The thing that was keeping him awake at night was that the restructure might cause some of his good people to leave. “I know jobs are hard to find right now but good people are still able to move quite easily” he explained.

5 Point Plan solution
After discussing much of the content of an article I wrote some months ago HERE for IQPC we talked about strategies for retaining his good people. In the end we settled on a five point plan. It would be specific to detail in this blog post but if you’d like to hear how we arrived at the solution then email me at and we can arrange a SKYPE call and I can fill you in. 

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Why is “Out of sight defintely out of mind”?

Ten days ago I was talking to Carl, a good friend of mine, who’s “Ticked off” with the co-operation he’s getting from superiors and colleagues. Now those very people may have to work that bit harder! 

A trail-blazing project
Carl, together with his management team and staff of two hundred, have spent the past year leading a trailblazing project that saves huge amounts of money and delivers enhanced service to the local community. People have said to him “What would we do without you?” and “What you’ve achieved is brilliant”. To achieve these plaudits he’s had to work long hours, hiring a large team and creating process, systems and culture and often without a “model” to follow.

As is usual there has been criticism from other areas of the business that feels overshadowed and exposed. As a result Carl’s team have felt pressured and unappreciated by the very people they are helping to do a better job.

A well earned holiday
A few weeks ago he went on holiday with various senior people and colleagues promising to deliver work whilst he was away ringing in his ears
…was it done when he got back?…daft question…because out of sight was definitely out of mind!

The result is that he’s even more tired than he was before his holiday. Now he’s updated his CV (Resume), bought a new interview suit and is looking for a job and has some interviews even before he’s formally applied for a position. I wonder how the people who’ve said “What would we do without you” will cope when he’s gone!

Cost of replacement and restructure…could be huge!

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The peril of Ignoring old customs & culture

On Sunday I was invited to brunch by some friends. A real treat, but the topic of conversation was depressing. Two of our party, of six, announced that they were changing jobs. Not because they wanted to but because one felt unappreciated, the other tired of a failing “new hire manager”.

Performance review.
The first, an exceptionally clever person, had just had a performance review where his “new boss” had reduced his performance grade for willingness to undertake overtime and timekeeping because he said that he “Didn’t believe in awards at highest grade…”. The previous year the employee a highest grade for willingness to work overtime at short notice. The reduction would mean a change in salary expectation.

Tired of inefficient management
The second friend, the companies highest producing salesperson, recounted various “New hire ” management decisions that had affected how people were able to perform, ignored previous culture and customs and this was affecting team morale. As a result he was deciding to leave.

I’m not against change but find it difficult to understand when new managers try to create an impression without considering the consequences. Ignoring old customs and culture does no-one any favours. In the end one company might lose an enthusiastic and hard working employee and the other a high performing salesperson.

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Why Order-takers Will Be Having A Bad Time

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking to a couple of businesses about restructuring their sales teams. The intention is to expand their profitability by increasing the productivity of the personnel.

Major problem
A major problem with sales team development is the acceptance of the 80/20 rule. This is where management believe that 80% of sales will always come from 20% of the team and are happy to accept that situation. The problem comes when part of the top 20% decide to leave for another job! At that stage panic usually set-in amongst the sales management.

Possible reason
The possible reason for the above is that in good times the recruitment process allowed ordertakers to gain sales jobs quite easily. Personnel are hired to fill posts without investigating if the individual’s past sales results were due to personal drive, capability and whether the skills are able to be easily replicated in another company, product and territory. However, in these economic times a business can’t afford to be hiring order-takers when they really need capable salespeople.

New videos
To overcome the problem of hiring order-takers I’ve been asked to make a couple of short videos on this topic and these start filming towards the end of this week.
If you would like to be sent an email when they are uploaded onto YouTube then simply register as a subscriber on my YouTube channel @ stephenharvarddavis 
or send me an email at

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Is Management to Blame for Staff Turnover?

I was asked a question on LinkedIn and this is a brief outline of my answer that I thought those in my network might find interesting

For many people there is a direct relationship with management
and high staff turnover. In my opinion, however, there also needs to be other
considerations before one always blames team managers.

I will often talk to CEO’s and team managers about their “Poach rate”. This
is a calculation that identifies the increase in the current salary that a competitor company has to pay to lure talent away and is represented as a percentage of the salary. The higher the percentage (around 10-15%) the more money has played a part in a person moving jobs. The manager may have little control over this given that pay scales are decided centrally.

If the Poach rate is less that 6% then the cause of the talent  leaving is unlikely more likely to be poor culture, lack of training, lack of career structure or poor management style. In this circumstance the Company is responsible for driving away the staff member and if turnover is high then significant attention needs to be paid to these other factors.

Another aspect to why people leave a job is to consider the individual’s circumstances:

Young talent will look to improve their resume (CV) and will remain in a job for as long as they are learning, working on new projects and that the company continues to deliver value to their resume etc.
As soon as another company is identified as providing greater value then the young talent will

Talent aged 30 -50 may be seeking to maximise earnings or responsibility and if this is not available within their present position will seek to move. (Team managers often have little impact upon career ladders)

Over 50 talent will often seek to reduce responsibility and the time spent at work (once again the team manager has little impact on this area)

Too often, in my experience, blame is placed on “Salary” as a reason why talent leaves when in fact the real reasons are in the company’s power to prevent. A motivating statistic is that when a talented individual
leaves the RISK that further talent will follow increases by 50%

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Are heads beginning to roll?

The removal of Rick Wagoner of General Motors and Christian Streiff of Citroen would seem to suggest that those seen as being responsible for poor business performance are being replaced by people not tarnished with the mistakes of the past.

One has to ask if this is the beginning of a cull of top business people seen as responsible for causing the financial crisis and whether it will satisfy people’s anger of like the French revolution simply call for more blood?

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Is Honda’s strategy smart?

Honda’s decision to shut down production during two months of 2009 but retain all their talented people for a future upturn is a smart decision.

For some time I have been advocating that to shed staff to save money saves one asset, money, but it reduces another asset, the talent contained within the people.

In the last downturn both Hershey and Pilsbury adopted similar tactics and came out of the downturn faster and stronger than their competitors.

I wonder how many other companies might look at this tactic and copy it?

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The Unemployment Quandry

BT has announced 10,000 job cuts today, with unemployment rising and the dark clouds over manufacturing companies such as General Motors is there an end of the reluctance for companies to make their talent redundant?

It poses a question: Will companies ensure that they identify the best talent to survive the recession or assume that talent can be picked up when needed when an upturn comes?

History would indicate that once talent is lost it’s very difficult to replace. 

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