How to Become a Talent Magnet

Wise leaders build engagement by becoming magnets for high­-performing talent.

Never before have organizations paid more attention to talent — keeping it, attracting it, developing it and engaging it.

Talent is no longer simply a numbers game. It’s about survival. It’s about winning market share and bringing on new investors, clients and big contracts. Companies depend on their top performers to innovate and differentiate themselves from their competitors. They’re reliant on their
employees to thrive.

Executives, line managers and the learning and development professionals who support them agree that engaging and retaining talent is a core business initiative. In fact, many enterprises have elevated talent retention to the top tier of objectives, on a par with generating revenue
and managing costs.

In support, leaders constantly seek new ways to build everyday engagement — the brand of engagement that is natural, effective and sustainable. Wise leaders build engagement by taking a lesson from science. The magic and science of magnetism has many relateable applications for engagement and retention. Let’s face it, most of us could be more magnetic — and most of us would like our bosses to do the same.

Magnetism is an extraordinary power that attracts or repels. It gets its name from Magnesia, Turkey, where more than 2,000 years ago the Greeks found rock that possessed mysterious powers. The rock, a form of iron ore called magnetite, could attract metals, making the rock and the metal stick together.

A magnet is a substance — usually a metal, such as iron or steel — that has been magnetized so that it will behave like magnetite. Any metal that can do this is called magnetic.

What’s a Talent Magnet?

Magnetism can help leaders understand human reactions at work. That understanding is often the first step to increasing leadership effectiveness and employee engagement.

Managers can be talent magnets, and decide how much energy they devote to attracting and developing talent. While organizations have magnetic forces by virtue of their mission, vision and values, the manager must translate those forces into everyday action.

Managers can attract and hold talent. An organization as a whole, a business unit, function, team or person can be a talent magnet. Because managers have the most power and influence in the engagement and retention arena, we’ll focus on them.

Managers decide how much energy they devote to attracting and developing talent and translate those forces into everyday action.

When leaders have strong magnetism, they feel it. So do others. Energy, morale, engagement and productivity are measurably high. Recruiting talent is easier because people want to work for talent magnets. Talent magnets get positive press. If leaders recognize and use their own magnetic powers, they can create more, achieve more and earn more.

But what if leaders aren’t magnetic? Well, they’re in trouble. Finding and keeping top talent makes or breaks a team, business unit and, ultimately, a company.

The good news: Even the most nonmagnetic leaders can create, increase and sustain magnetism.

Here are some examples of how magnetism works in talent retention:

  • Every magnet has a magnetic field around it. Every talent magnet creates a culture that attracts and keeps talented people.
  • The stronger the magnet, the larger the magnetic field. The more magnetic managers are, the more people they affect.
  • If you break a magnet in pieces, you’ll produce new magnetic fields around each new piece. Magnetic managers create more magnets by sharing their power and ability with others.
  • Metal objects that attach to magnets become magnetic, too. Employees of talent magnets attract others, at least while they work for a magnetic manager.
  • Something that behaves like a magnet after it leaves the field of the inducing magnet is said to have residual magnetism. When managers lose talent magnets to the competition, they lose a crucial competitive edge.
  • The attraction of two magnets toward one another depends on how close they are and how strong the magnetic force is within the magnet. Talent magnets get to know their people well. They get close and stay close, learning all they can about their employees’ motivations and desires.
  • If a magnet is suspended in air, it will always point in a north­-south direction. A compass always finds magnetic north. Magnetic managers create, share and lead by a strong vision.
  • One can create a magnet by giving it an electric charge or by putting a specific metal in the mix, like iron. Talent magnets know when and how to boost engagement through learning and development. They take action when something employees want is missing.
  • One can demagnetize a magnet in many ways. Managers can put people off by actions they take or fail to take.

Identifying the ‘Sticking Features’

What makes an organization, team or leader magnetic? Decades of research confirm that most workers want fair pay and a good work environment. Beyond that, they want exciting, meaningful work, a chance to grow, and a good boss. These are sticking features that people have in common.

But this doesn’t tell the whole story because everyone has a unique sticking features list. If leaders guess at what their talented people want, they’ll often guess wrong. Instead, managers at all levels will do well to stop guessing and start conducting stay interviews with every one of their employees.

Stay interviews are conversations between managers and their employees that intend to tell people how much they’re valued and to learn what will keep them engaged and on the team. Stay interviews prevent exit interviews.

Managers need to discover what people really want and need to bring their discretionary effort to work and to stay in the organization. As part of a stay interview, for instance, one manager might ask their employee: “Which part of your job do you wish you didn’t have to do, and which part would you like to expand?”

That simple question can open up a conversation that leads to job enrichment and increased engagement.

Managers today face more to do with less time in which to do it. They need to recognize that every interaction with direct reports is an opportunity to create, increase or sustain magnetism.

Managers today face more to do with less time in which to do it. They need to recognize that every interaction with direct reports is an opportunity to create or increase magnetism.

Create Magnetism

Once managers know which sticking features matter most to their employees, they’re ready to create magnetism.

Apply an electrical charge. For some employees, the electrical charge comes from a career discussion, a new learning opportunity or a much­desired “thank you” from the boss. Talent magnets learn what kind of charge their people want.

Consider this hypothetical example: When Sergey’s boss asked what he wanted to learn next year, he said, “I’d like to improve my negotiating skills.” They began a three-­step learning process. Here are the steps they followed and how it worked out for Sergey.

Step 1 — Conscious Observation: Sergey’s boss selected someone who was exceptionally skilled at negotiating for Sergey to observe. Later, Sergey and his boss discussed what Sergey learned and would do differently.

Step 2 — Selected Participation: Sergey’s boss allowed him to take a well­defined but limited role in a negotiation. The goal was to let Sergey practice without feeling overwhelmed. Afterwards, Sergey and his boss discussed what worked and what to improve.

Step 3 — Key Responsibility: Sergey’s boss gave him primary responsibility for a project that required excellent negotiation skills. Sergey completed the entire negotiation with the vendor and was accountable for the outcome. His boss was present, of course, but would have stepped in only if Sergey requested his support. Afterward, his boss asked him what worked well and why.

It worked. One year later, Sergey is thrilled with his job and continues to develop mastery as a negotiator for his organization.

Put some metal in the mix. Some people want a deeper relationship with their boss, while others want more fun at work or more time away from work. True magnet managers will discover what’s missing and partner with their employees to add those ingredients to the job.

Talent magnets are always curious about what’s working and what’s missing. They then collaborate with their employees to find the right formula for magnetism.

Increase Magnetism

Sometimes leaders have magnetism, but not often or powerful enough to attract, engage and keep the best people. The good news is magnets can get stronger.

Turn up the voltage. Some people would like more praise or encouragement. Others want to know their bosses care about them, their lives and their careers. Talent magnets should notice when employees’ job enthusiasm appears flat. They can even use failure as a learning experience.

Get bigger magnets. Magnetic managers often connect themselves to other magnets, becoming more powerful themselves. They reach up and out to learn and give more to those who follow them. In the race to engage and retain talent, there is never a time to say, “I’ve done enough.” There is always a way to improve the relationship or enrich the work.

Recharge. Talent magnets check in often with their talented employees. They want to know how the sticking features have changed. What do they want more of or less of from work? Listening is the most powerful tool in the talent magnet’s toolkit.

Magnetism can make objects attract or repel each other. It’s sad but true that actively disengaged or toxic bosses can drive talent out the door. Retention researchers agree that people seldom leave organizations; they leave managers.

Magnetic managers need to be vigilant and courageous. They regularly recharge themselves and whom they manage. They mentor, manage and ultimately remove demagnetizing forces from their teams.

Talent magnets are a powerful force for an organization. They attract others who can help them build and sustain engaged, highly productive work forces. They watch for and disempower demagnetizing forces.

The strongest leaders ask themselves how they might grow even stronger or know their people better. They ponder how they might increase the electrical charge help employees find missing ingredients or turn up the voltage.

The payoff for talent magnets and the organizations they lead is profound. It can make the difference between an organization being mediocre and it being hugely successful.

By Beverly Kaye & Sharon Jordan-­Evans
May 18, 2018

  Wendy Tan   Feb 13, 2019   Career Development, Engagement   Comments Off on How to Become a Talent Magnet   Read More

Plenty of Room to Grow

Career Growth

Moving up isn’t the only way to achieve successful career development.


Engagement surveys reveal, again and again, that individuals join organizations to pursue career possibilities and they leave organizations if those opportunities don’t materialize. In fact, a recent Gallup study reported that the majority of millennials—projected to be 75 percent of the workforce by 2025—say that professional growth and continued development is very important in their decision to join an organization or take on a new role.

Recruiters who describe an organization as having a development culture need to understand what it means to follow through on that promise. Company culture must meet employee expectations and desires for learning and growing. When the reality doesn’t match the promise, a coveted new hire can easily disengage or become a quick quit.

It’s no secret that yesterday’s career ladders have faded or lost rungs along the way to today’s flatter organizational structures. Goals defined only by moves up the hierarchy and recognition systems centered primarily on celebrating promotions are setting the stage for frustration, disappointment, disengagement, and potentially loss of talent. The very definitions of growth and career development need to be broadened to encompass the full scope of growth options that exist in the world of work today.

So, what’s the answer?

Organizations are striving to stay ahead of the competition and on the cutting-edge of serving customers. Recruiters and HR professionals need to see return on the time, money, and energy invested in attracting talent. Managers are focused on building and engaging a team of valued players who are ready, willing, and able to deliver results. Individuals are developing current and future capabilities to realize their career aspirations. Continuous growth opportunities will meet the needs of all entities.

Organizations that meet the challenge of providing continued professional growth in spite of fewer promotional opportunities will attract and retain talent. Managers who recognize, embrace, and encourage nontraditional career paths will build reputations as development-minded leaders and establish trusting relationships with their teams. And employees whose growth needs are met will see a future within the organization and remain engaged and committed to the work.

A good place to start achieving this is recognition.

1. Recognize the issue—and the opportunity. Recognition of the issue and more importantly, the opportunity that lies within the issue, unlocks a wealth of opportunities for individuals and potential for the organization. Many traditional career paths don’t exist anymore, but in many cases, fulfilling alternatives have replaced them. Candid conversations with candidates, new hires, and tenured employees about opportunities to grow professionally create solid partnerships and send the message that growth is still there—it just may be packaged differently.

Nontraditional options can bridge functional groups and uncover potential paths by triggering interest in professional passions that employees may not be aware are possible. For example:

  • IT professionals can have transferable skills for product design and marketing roles;
  • instructors see line management assignments that draw on their expertise in the field of learning while affording the chance to stretch into new areas; and
  • a sales leader can excel as a direct customer contact manager.

The key, however, is ensuring transparency regarding what continued growth looks like within the organization. For many, the mental image of growth is still a step up a ladder. While the reality may be very different, it is no less valuable toward the ultimate goal of building a personally meaningful career for individuals while simultaneously building future capability for the organization.

2. Recognize the options. When multiple options for learning and developing are recognized and consistently communicated across an organization, a growth culture is formed. There are six types of experiences that, when mixed and matched within a career pattern, create a kaleidoscope of development opportunities. They include:

  • Enrichment: growing in place. Not all workers want to move from one role to another, but growth within current roles can and should happen. Through enrichment and learning programs, individuals feed their passion about the work, stretch to build new capabilities, and grow professionally. Enrichment builds resilience and fosters engagement.
  • Exploratory: testing the water. So much can be learned from simply trying on a role to see if it fits. Exploratory experiences can identify future roles that are ideal as well as eliminate others from consideration. They can also provide a road map of the behaviors and skills needed to be considered for a future role. Whether the employee steps into a temporary assignment or simply conducts a series of informational interviews, exploratory experiences can uncover details that contribute to informed decisions and better choices for the future.
  • Lateral: moving sideways. A sideways experience is an opportunity to leverage transferable skills acquired at the same or similar level while learning a new aspect of the business. In many organizations, movement among teams is more fluid and frequent than in the past and offers the opportunity to grow. Lateral experiences can build breadth of expertise, which senior leaders value. Employees who get hands-on experience in multiple areas learn functional interdependencies and gain a deeper understanding of how the organization works.
  • Realignment: stepping back. Too often labeled as a negative, stepping back can at times be the perfect choice. When a talented individual voluntarily realigns by stepping back and continues to contribute to the success of the organization, the employee and the organization win. Realignment experiences are often valuable when changing disciplines or fields. Whether changing disciplines or simply adjusting the work-life balance scale, taking on a role of less scope or responsibility could lead to greater engagement and satisfaction.
  • Vertical: moving on up. Promotional experiences still exist in organizations. It is critical that individuals choosing to pursue steps up clearly understand what to expect and examine the downsides as well as the upsides of the new role. Promotions can be enticing and they can also be rewarding. The key is in making sure those rewards—visibility, influence, compensation, and the like—are in sync with any accompanying trade-offs—longer hours, increased pressure, greater risks, and so on. When the time is right and the role checks all the boxes, then up is the answer.
  • Departure: leaving the nest. Often, there comes a time in most careers when stepping out the door is the next best option. If a particular competency or skill set can’t be acquired, or the environment or culture is not the right fit, then leaving might be best for the employee and the organization. The key here is to ensure that there is always an opportunity to return in the future. For many individuals, the chance to step out—even for a short period of time—and gain another perspective or experience is an opportunity that shouldn’t be ignored. Some of those individuals may decide to return at some point, bringing with them new skills.

3. Recognize growth and celebrate it! Ensuring that employees are encouraged to stretch and learn, are coached when redirection is needed, and are celebrated when milestones are mastered, builds a sought-after development culture. When employees’ efforts to grow in traditional or nontraditional ways are acknowledged, a clear message is sent that the leader involved, as well as the organization they are a part of values and recognizes that growth. Employees want challenges in their work, opportunities to learn new things, greater employability, and leaders who value their contributions and care about their futures. These are all possible by expanding the definition of career growth.

Beverly Kaye is the founder of Career Systems International (now doing business as Talent Dimensions) and the author of multiple books on career development and engagement. Lindy Williams is a consultant with Talent Dimensions and the co-author of “Up Is Not the Only Way: Rethinking Career Mobility” along with Kaye and Lynn Cowart.

  Wendy Tan   Feb 13, 2019   Career Development, Engagement   Comments Off on Plenty of Room to Grow   Read More

The 3 Essential Jobs That Most Retention Programs Ignore


by Lynn Cowart, Cile Johnson and Beverly Kaye
January 05, 2018

For more than a decade, leading human resource strategists have hit on a recurring theme: You want your star players working in the roles that matter most to the business. For example, in 2009 professors Brian Becker, Mark Huselid, and Richard Beatty estimated that in most companies less than 15% of jobs are what they call strategic positions and said management should focus “disproportionate investments” on finding A players for those jobs. USC’s John Boudreau, CEO adviser Ram Charan, and consultants at Bain & Company, McKinsey, and Korn Ferry have made similar arguments.

Building on these ideas, we have identified six leverage roles where you want to make sure you have — and keep — your highest-caliber people. But over and over again in our three decades of experience as talent development and retention specialists, we’ve seen that companies consistently overlook half of them. As a result, these companies risk losing highly effective people in positions that have much greater impact on performance than many leaders realize.

The roles that already tend to get lots of attention at most companies are:

  • Indispensable senior leaders. The chief marketing officers at consumer products companies, the heads of design at luxury apparel companies, and the heads of logistics at large retailers are cases in point.
  • Connectors in the middle. Although long ignored, these middle management positions have become increasingly recognized as critical to executing a company’s strategy. In sales-driven companies (think pharmaceuticals and industrial equipment), they are often field sales managers who direct dozens of salespeople in the highest-volume regions.
  • High-potential future leaders. These are up-and-comers expected to fill the organization’s top management positions.

But most organizations we know give little if any attention to retaining people who occupy three other roles. These overlooked roles are:

  • Essential experts. These are jobs in R&D, technology, and other areas vital to a firm’s strategic direction, product development, and process efficiency. These people tend not to have — or want — management responsibilities.
  • Customer experience creators. People in this role regularly interact with a company’s most valuable customers and determine whether they stay customers. The jobs are in sales, customer contact centers, and field service positions.
  • Critical contractors. They are not employees; they are contingent workers who are nonetheless vital to an organization’s R&D, marketing, and other key processes. They are different from the standard independent contractor in that they are high-priced free agents with extremely valuable, 
and rare, expertise that a company doesn’t possess.

None of these jobs are at the top of the organization chart, and with the possible exception of some customer experience creators, the people who hold them aren’t looking to move up in the organization. Because these aren’t management-track jobs, companies often overlook the importance of keeping high-performing people in them. Let’s examine each a little more closely.

Essential Experts

Essential experts possess crucial knowledge but don’t want to manage others. This role is common in technology, engineering, and life sciences companies, where domain expertise in narrow and arcane areas can be crucial to market success. But the role is becoming important in many other industries as well, such as creative arenas (for example, product design in retail) and communications.

Note that essential experts typically don’t want to manage others; they only want to manage themselves. That makes retaining them very different from retaining someone who wants to scale the corporate hierarchy by managing increasingly larger operations.

So how do you keep them? Competitive compensation is table stakes for these folks. (Some might deserve to make more than certain executives in your company.) After all, they can easily take their expertise elsewhere. But your work environment is also a chief concern. They expect to do work they consider meaningful and that aligns with their values.

As an example, look at Google and its investments in artificial intelligence. In 2014 the company shelled out $650 million to buy AI startup DeepMind Technologies and went to great lengths to keep that firm’s 50 AI scientists and engineers in place. For example, Google had to promise it wouldn’t use DeepMind technology for military or intelligence purposes. It also had to let DeepMind scientists continue publishing their research in scientific journals — knowledge Google might have regarded as proprietary and kept private.

Capability development is also very important to a company’s essential experts, especially gaining knowledge and applying it to meaningful projects. They are lifelong learners who often want to be regarded as leading lights in their fields. Helping them become recognized as thought leaders — by being published in prestigious publications, for instance, or speaking at notable conferences — can go a long way toward keeping them.

Customer Experience Creators

These employees influence whether visitors become customers, and whether those customers return. They may be salespeople whose customers need lots of handholding — think life insurance, for instance, or industrial machinery. Or they may be people who interact with customers after the sale. Think of customer reps who support the biggest investors at asset management companies like Fidelity and Putnam.

The two most important retention drivers to keep people in these roles are compensation and organizational reputation. Competitive compensation is a minimum requirement; they can often make more elsewhere.

Organizational reputation is also important because employees need to feel good about the products and services they sell or service. For example, Vail Resorts, a $1.9 billion company that operates multiple ski resorts, has grown to understand the employee retention value in reputation. About 80% of its more than 30,000 employees are seasonal hires, and many of them are customer experience creators — lift operators, ski instructors, lodge and restaurant workers, and so on. Mark Gasta, the company’s chief human resource officer from 2008 to 2016, said these workers were “essential to the organization’s success… [T]heir long tenure is important.” Ideally, seasonal workers will return, year after year.

Keeping key talent was essential for Vail Resorts’ return to prosperity following the 2009 recession, and one move that was instrumental in doing that was clarifying the company’s values. As a firm that strives to create great outdoor experiences for customers, it’s no surprise that protecting the environment became a core value — something that matters to employees at the front lines.

“It doesn’t matter how much you pay,” said Gasta, though he noted that Vail Resorts’ pay is competitive. “If you’re not in line with their personal aspirations, they’ll eventually leave. Employees want to know that they work for a company that does good, and then they want to know how they can contribute.” The company put sustainability front and center in external and internal communications. In 2017 it announced a bold initiative to end carbon emissions, reduce waste to landfills to zero, and eliminate adverse environmental impact by 2030.

When it comes to work environment, Vail Resorts introduced flexibility to give employees time off to pursue their passions. It offers ski breaks, for instance, and employee ski days. In fact, “having fun” is one of its six core values for workers.

Critical Contractors

Independent contractors have become ubiquitous. Some 20% to 30% of American and European Union workers are independent, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. About 30% of those 162 million people are free agents by choice, not necessity, according to McKinsey research. In fact, another study, by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that 94% of the net new employment in the U.S. from 2005 to 2015 came from freelance work.

All that to say, independent contractors are here to stay. Consider the example of Ecolab, a $13 billion global company that provides water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. About 6,000 of Ecolab’s 48,000 workers are contingent workers. Some of its most important contractors possess rare and deep expertise in key areas, such as sugar beets and how to refine them. “There are very few sugar beet experts in the world, and one of them works on a contingent basis for us,” says Laurie Marsh, Ecolab’s executive vice president of human resources. “He was retired and didn’t want to come back to working full-time. We’re glad he’s on call and on our team.”

To keep such critical contractors in the fold, Ecolab provides the “best set of materials to do the job,” Marsh said. “We spend a great deal of time ensuring that they have the latest technologies and the best research facilities.”

Compensation is also of utmost importance, as it is for other star employees, and capability development is too, specifically around personal brand. This doesn’t mean offering a career path inside your company; it means helping a critical contractor further develop their credibility in the marketplace.

An organization’s reputation is important to critical contractors. To put it simply, they want to work with winners. Companies with strong brands have a leg up in attracting critical contractors. Those with weak brands have a much harder time getting the best of the best, unless those critical contractors are up-and-comers and don’t yet have strong personal brands.

Keeping your company’s talented essential experts, customer experience creators, and critical contractors working for you and engaged in their work starts with acknowledging that senior leaders aren’t always the most valuable people in the company.

Many companies direct their retention strategies almost exclusively at top management and high potentials. But by ignoring other key roles — the roles that drive competitive advantage — you may be letting valuable talent slip through your fingers. Figure out which roles have the greatest impact on market performance — and staff them with stars.


Lynn Cowart is Vice President of Quality Delivery at Career Systems International, a consulting and training firm that helps companies retain and develop key talent.



Cile Johnson is Senior Vice President at Career Systems International, a consulting and training firm that helps companies retain and develop key talent.



Beverly Kaye is the Founder of Career Systems International and a bestselling author on career development and workplace performance. Her most recent book (with Lindy Williams and Lynn Cowart) is Up Is Not the Only Way: Rethinking Career Mobility.

  Wendy Tan   Jan 29, 2019   Career Development, Engagement   Comments Off on The 3 Essential Jobs That Most Retention Programs Ignore   Read More

Employee Engagement is a Two-Way Street

 Who owns the Employee Engagement Equation?

Reports and surveys and studies continue to cite employee engagement as fundamental to maximizing performance and to achieving organizational goals. Training programs prepare managers to reach out to team members and ask questions to better understand what employees need and want from their work and from the environment. Managers are instrumental in creating and maintaining the space in which work happens. Nothing grows without careful attention to the surrounding atmosphere. So, yes, managers own a piece of the employee engagement equation.

But what about the employee? Most of us are employees – even a sole proprietor reporting only to himself or the small business owner sharing her home office with her dog – they are both employed to do something, to create something, to achieve something. What piece of the employee engagement equation does he own? Does she own? What piece of employee engagement do you and I own? And if we own it, what can we do about it?

An organization in its simplest form is merely a group of people – of employees – who come together to do something. An organization is comprised of individuals working toward a common goal – to create a product, to deliver a service, or to accomplish a task. Employee engagement – the combination of the engagement levels of each one of us impacts our group’s ability to achieve whatever goals are set. When engagement of the individuals in the group is lagging or missing in some way it negatively impacts the combined efforts of the entire group. Each and every one of us owns some piece of this thing called engagement if we want to achieve something as a part of a larger team as well as individually. There are not a lot of people who yearn to be a part of a failing effort. So what can be done? What can individuals do, to impact the employee engagement levels in the group?

First, how about starting with my own engagement level? I can take a close look at what’s working for me and what’s not. Asking myself the question – When am I performing at my peak? What’s happening then? What does it look like? What am I doing? What’s going on around me? – can give me a clearer picture of my own employee engagement conditions. A colleague shared with me that she learned that starting her morning routine listening to a business podcast puts her in the right frame of mind to dive in when she sits down at her desk. A young professional I know is careful to create spaces on his daily calendar to exchange ideas and have a conversation with his teammates because he has learned that peer interaction is essential to his level of employee engagement. A friend who recently began working from his home office struggled with how to get into the “office mode” until he discovered that walking two blocks to his favorite coffee shop then returning to “the office” was what worked for him to set the stage for his day. Unless we do some reflection on what works for us, we may be missing some really simple things that can make a difference.

Second, when I find that something is missing or not quite right – something that could make my own engagement even better – I can talk about it, ask about it. Is there something a manager or a colleague could do to help? Often a simple change can make a very big difference. A manager in a recent program shared that he narrowly avoided losing a top performer because he didn’t realize how concerned the employee was about some upcoming changes in direction. Fortunately for the manager and for the individual, a candid conversation was all it took for the employee to feel more engaged in the organization’s future and for the manager to get a better understanding of this individual’s engagement level.

Of course, it’s possible that the one thing that’s needed might not be feasible at the moment – maybe the manager can’t make a change in the schedule to better match my needs right now, or there’s not a role at the moment in a particular project I wanted to be a part of – but at least I’ve made known that something is important to me, and put it on the radar screen so it might work out in the future.

The answer then is that the employee engagement equation is owned by employees – by each one of us – as well as by managers – and can be an equation with powerful and positive results!


  Wendy Tan   Aug 24, 2018   Engagement   Comments Off on Employee Engagement is a Two-Way Street   Read More

It’s Time to Prioritize Career Development

Given the nature of today’s workplace, there are a number of things pulling at business leaders’ attention on any given day. Instantaneous access to information coupled with pressure to consistently meet the ever-escalating expectations of customers and shareholders offers fuel countless priorities and to-dos every day.

But there’s one priority that might serve leaders better than any other and drive sustainable business results: career development.

Whereas in the past career development was frequently relegated to “nice-to-do” or “when you get around to it,” today it’s increasingly being viewed as a necessity. Study upon study links to career and talent development to valued business metrics, leading indicators, and positive overall outcomes.

Despite the quantifiable connection between a focus on career development and what matters most to organizations, too few managers and leaders focus on career development. A recent pulse survey we conducted found that half of the respondents felt that their managers are disinterested in their career development.

How would the employees in your organization rate managers overall? How would your employees rate you?

At the same time, this pulse survey also offers a hopeful message. Twenty-five percent of the respondents expressed their satisfaction and pleasure, indicating that their managers fall on the “prioritized” end of the continuum and act as active partners, supporters, and champions of career development.

Being able to learn, grow, expand capacity and work toward career goals is of vital importance to most individuals. It’s also of vital importance to organizations interested in exceeding customer demands, continuously improving products and services, and delivering shareholder value. Leaders who prioritize and put energy into career development find they are better able to deliver on both the business and human outcomes.

These leaders think and behave a little differently than others, putting daily behaviors and habits into practice that any leader can adopt. Try one or more of these priorities to demonstrate your commitment to the development of those around you.

Priority 1: Assume that everyone has the potential to learn and grow. 

Leaders who drive career development live by an abiding belief that every individual is valuable and capable of developing their skills and abilities further. This belief plays out in countless ways every day, conveying and inspiring greater confidence in others. Under these conditions, employees are willing to commit to learning, take risks, entertain instructive failure, and make enormous development strides in the process.

Priority 2: Focus on an opportunity-filled future.

Leaders who prioritize career development know how to generate enthusiasm, energy and a sense of hope by helping others envision the possibilities that might lie ahead. For employees, the future feels bright in the presence of these leaders because they consistently anticipate ways to connect what employees need to learn or experience with ever-changing workplace conditions. Because these leaders coach their employees to always be pursuing multiple, flexible scenarios, plenty of chances to learn and advance will always be available along some of the possible paths being pursued.

Priority 3: Cultivate peripheral vision.

Leaders committed to employee development are able to enjoy this confidence in the future in part because they are constantly scanning the environment. They keep their eyes on and continuously refine their understanding of the big picture. They remain hyper vigilant to the factors that affect the business, the organizational culture and future opportunities, and they teach those around them to do the same. This focus forward and toward the future allows employees to make decisions today that will serve them well in the uncertainty of tomorrow.

“Being able to learn, grow, expand capacity and work toward career goals is of vital importance to most individuals.”

Priority 4: Generously share information.

Hoarders of information typically make terrible developers of people. Think about the managers under whose leadership you’ve grown the most. They likely communicated a lot. These individuals probably believed in the value of transparency; they knew that with the right information, employees could make the best possible decisions, both for the business and their own careers.

Employees are hungry for candid, forthright information about things that affect them. They don’t want managers to tell them what they want to hear; they want what they need to hear — even if it’s unpleasant or scary.

And sharing big picture information about the organization, its strategies, where it’s headed and the challenges anticipated along the way will not only help people perform better but also give them crucial information about where they can add value and where opportunities might lie.

Priority 5: Dwell on strengths, talents, and capabilities.

Powerful developers of people don’t frame the effort in terms of fixing problems, shoring up weak‐ nesses or unraveling vulnerabilities. They know that the shortest and surest way forward and toward one’s career goals are through their strengths and talents. Employees who are fortunate enough to report to these leaders quickly learn to focus on what they do well and find ways to further magnify those capabilities. This approach is energizing and quickly establishes a positive context for development that infuses itself into all dimensions of work life, triggering an upward spiral of enthusiasm, engagement, and results.

Priority 6: Treat career development as a daily part of the leadership role.

Managers who prioritize career development understand that it’s not a human resources function — it’s a leadership function. They don’t see it as the annual exercise of checking boxes but rather as the daily exercise of checking in with others.

Research has shown that the more frequently managers meet with those who report to them, the more engaged team members will be. In customer service, it’s long been understood that every customer contact is an opportunity to build the emotional connection between the customer and service provider. The same holds true for managers and their employees. More positive points of contact build rapport, trust, engagement, and commitment.

Formal, scheduled connections like one-on-ones, performance appraisals, and individual development planning sessions are just a small part of the conversational repertoire. These leaders recognize and seize small moments within the context of daily work to connect, offer feedback, acknowledge the effort, praise results, explore learning, or just ask how things are going. These conversations are spontaneous, ad-hoc, unplanned and tremendously powerful in terms of institutionalizing career development.

Priority 7: View talent as an enterprisewide resource.

Our field research suggests that one of the key factors keeping managers from engaging in career development is that they are concerned about developing people only to see them leave for a better opportunity. A 2015 survey from advisory and technology firm CEB backs this up. Nearly 60 percent of the human resources executives who responded paint a dismal snapshot of managerial generosity, indicating that managers in their organizations don’t share talent.

Leaders who prioritize career development see things differently. They recognize that as skills and experience increase, employees might need challenges that are no longer available in their current roles. As a result, these leaders help find other opportunities — even if it means losing a key player. They realize that developing individuals raises the bar for the entire group. They also realize that the reputation they develop for helping others grow makes them a talent magnet, able to attract a steady stream of capable individuals.

Priority 8: Use the value of peer-to-peer support.

Leaders know that they can’t — and shouldn’t — do it all. They realize that each of their own direct reports has not only the skills and abilities to apply to their jobs but also the coaching and counsel to offer each another. They take advantage of this.

Others’ input benefits personal and professional growth in most areas. As a result, employees who can seek and offer feedback freely and effectively experience accelerated development. In the process, they also master a core supervisory skill that may prepare them for a future role.

Prioritizing career development is a good thing for leaders at every level — because it creates the conditions for people and organizations to thrive.

Besides, of all the things to prioritize, shouldn’t the growth of employees be at the top of a leader’s list?

“Leaders who prioritize and put energy into career development find they are better able to deliver on both the business and human outcomes.”

This is written by Julie Winkle Giulioni and Beverly Kaye, on http://www. talentmgt.com.

  Wendy Tan   Jul 03, 2017   Engagement   Comments Off on It’s Time to Prioritize Career Development   Read More

Please Invade My Space

Picture a typical day at work. A manager leaves his office and heads to the cafeteria on the other side of the building. On the way, he passes Emma from the call center. He also makes his way past Lin, who works in the mail room, and the brushes by one of his team lead, Roy. The manager gets to the cafeteria, picks up a sandwich from the cooler and pays Pat at the register.

Who did he see along the way? It wasn’t Emma, Lin, Roy, and Pat. He saw no one. He only saw the screen on his smartphone, and he responded to an email from Roy. Yes, the same Roy he just passed in the hall. Seem crazy? It shouldn’t. It’s just another day at the office.

Why Talk When You Can Text?

With the emergence of email, Twitter, smartphones, instant messages and other technology-based communication devices, the art of making eye contact and even the simple act of saying hello in the workplace is becoming folklore for workplace blogs. Years from now, archeologists may write articles about how and when the art of a one-on-one conversation become obsolete. True, these advancements may make it easier to communicate faster and with more people at once, but it doesn’t always make it better, and it isn’t necessarily helping leaders engage and retain their employees.

Physician and writer Deepak Chopra talks about the link between well-being and a manager’s style. He suggests that if a manager criticises an employee, there is a 20% chance the employee will be actively disengaged. In contrast, when a manager ignores and employee, the chance of being actively disengaged jumps to 40%. In short, employees would rather be criticized by their managers than ignored. Research by Career Systems International confirms the importance of the employee-manager relationship. In a study with more that 17,00 respondents, a supportive manager and great boss rank in the top 5 reasons employees stay and remain engaged at work.

A number of assumptions may be stopping leaders from having meaningful, face-to-face conversations:

  1. “My employee know my door is always open and they can come to me anytime.”
  2. “If they need something, they’ll ask.”
  3. “No one has time for chitchat.”
  4. “It’s a lot more efficient for me to communicate this way, and my employees prefer it.”

Rather than make assumptions, talent leaders would be better served to mandate leader-direct report engagement. For instance, a senior leader at a manufacturing facility could institute the “eight-foot rule” requiring all leaders to engage their employees in conversation anytime they come withing eight feet of each other. Managers won’t start walking around the building with a tape measure, but they will start looking people in the eye, saying hello and even stopping in the halls for quick conversations. The changes aren’t monumental, but they are noticeable.

Contrast this scenario with a manager at an aerospace company who chooses to attend his staff meeting via telecom. No big deal, right? In today’s virtual world, it’s not uncommon to talk with one’s team via phone. In this case, it was a big deal. The team meeting is 20 steps away from the manager’s office, yet he chooses to dial in on the conference line. If he’s not dialing in, he’s instant message tasks, questions, and updates.

Employees would rather work for the manager who notices an employee in the office and says, “Good morning,” not the manager who stays in the office keeping in touch by phone and instant messaging when he sits just down the hall. Employees want to have face-to-face conversations with their boss. When, where, what, and how often may vary, but relationships are built through conversations, and employees want a relationship with their boss.

Get Up and Start Talking

Research firm the Radicati Group’s Email Statistic Report for 2011-2015 reports the average corporate user sends and receives 105 emails a day. The good news is that the rate of daily emails is slowing down. The bad news is that email is being replaced by instant messaging (IM) and social networks.

In 2011, the number of IM accounts reached approximately 2.6 billion and worldwide social networking accounts hit some 2.4 billion. Smartphones keep folks in touch as well, with billions of global wireless users. With the ease of use and access to all this communication technology,  it’s understandable that leaders are using it to keep in touch with employees. It’s fast, efficient and accessible. It’s also can be a cop out. Technology doesn’t always deliver what employees want and need from their leaders. They want communication and information, but they also want to know they matter.

Getting up and starting to talk isn’t hard, but in today’s technology-based work environment, it does have to be purposeful. Managers need to leave their offices and leave smartphones behind. For instance, they can plan weekly face time with their employees by putting in on their calendars and sticking to it. Or, set and “out of office” message on email, and get up and get out with the sole purpose of making face-to-face contact with employees.

Despite myriad available development options, it’s not uncommon for leaders not to know what to say during face-to-face interactions. The following are all popular sentiments leaders use to avoid in-person communique: “What will I say? What if they ask for something I can’t give? I’m just not comfortable in one-on-one conversations.” It can be easier to hide behind and email message, but email is rarely cited as a big retention and engagement tool. Research does confirm, however, that employees are engaged when they believe their manager cares.

Talent managers should encourage managers to be curious about their employees. When people are curious, they are eager to get information. They ask powerful questions to learn more, and managers should actively listen to the answers.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

The key is to ask questions designed to get to know employees beyond the daily work they do. The career conversation offers this opportunity. It can help employees uncover skills, interests, and values, talking about career aspirations and goals, and learn what engages them and what doesn’t. In short, managers must ask questions and listen to responses. Consider these conversation-sparking, career-related questions:

  • What makes for a great day at work?
  • What interests must you in your current job?
  • Which parts of your job do you find the most challenging?
  • What do you excel in?
  • What do you wish you have more time to do in your work?
  • What skills do you appreciate in others that don’t come easy for you?
  • What’s working? What’s not?
  • How can I support you?

What managers can ask is limitless; It’s how they listen and how often they ask that matters most. Keep the distractions to a minimum and focus on the conversations. try the aforementioned eight-foot rule and see what happens. Don’t have time to stop for a conversation? Keep the smartphone in the pocket, make eye contact with employees in the hall and say hello.

However, all this talk about talking wouldn’t be complete without a word of caution. Not every employee wants the same thing. For some, invading their space may be equal to declaring battle. Engaging every employee in conversation takes finesse and a little bit of investigative work. For some employees, regular face-to-face communication may be every six months. Other wants a daily hello. Managers would be well advised to talk with their employees and get a sense of just how much conversation they want by asking:

  • What is your preferred method of communication?
  • How do you like to receive feedback or work through issues?
  • When would you prefer a face-to-face conversation versus an email?
  • When we do get together to talk, what are some topics you would like to cover?

“Technology doesn’t always deliver what employees want and need from their leaders. They want communication and information, but they also want to know they matter.”

Make no assumptions – ask- and understand that what works for one employee may not work for others. Managers with geographically dispersed direct reports will have to make an extra effort to align employee expectations with the reality of time and distance separating them.

According to Radicati Group, there will be more than 1.2 billion wireless email users by year’s end in 2015. Reliance on technology-based communication platforms will continue to grow, with many positive results. The value of face-to-face conversations won’t diminish during that time; it will become more important as employees and managers week ways to connect and engage at work.

This article was written by Beverly Crowell, the VP of strategic client services for Career Systems International, on careersystemsintl.org.


Interested in something similar? Check out our new webinar happening in August!

This webinar is based on Robin Speculand’s new book, Excellence in Execution, providing leaders of today the right mindset, skillset, and toolset for execution, and the challenges of executing strategy in today’s turbulent business market.

Click here to find out more!

  Wendy Tan   Jul 03, 2017   Engagement   Comments Off on Please Invade My Space   Read More

Conversations to Engage, Develop and Challenge

Talk is cheap … or so the saying goes. But when it comes to what matters most to employees today, talk is one of the most valued commodities organizations have to offer.

In a recent survey by Career Systems International, a vast majority of Human Resource and Talent Management professionals said career development conversations are the types of conversations employees most want to have with their manager. On the flip side, these same professionals report they are not happening. What is? Conversations about daily operations and tasks.

And while every employee needs to know the “what and how of their job today,” they are thinking about a whole lot more. Can I see my future in your future? Do I really like it here? What’s next for me?

The simple truth? Talk is exactly what employees want … we’re just not giving it or giving the kind they want. Conversations to engage, develop and challenge employees are the bedrock of strong relationships between employees and managers. These conversations can and do create an environment where employees feel valued, respected and heard.

So, why aren’t we doing it? Turns out, talk may not be cheap, and it can be hard. For some, that is. Common fears from “what if I can’t give or get what I want” to “I don’t know what to say” hold all of us back from having meaningful, authentic conversations at work. What if it wasn’t that hard?

Turns out, it doesn’t have to be.

Start by cultivating a sense of wonder in your organization. People are inherently curious. Conversations can help us harness and direct that curiosity to engage, develop and challenge others. How? Remember, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

Ask powerful questions and then listen, really listen to what others are saying. Then, ask another. Suspend your need to rush the conversation along, stop yourself from answering the question for them, and approach each and every conversation with a sense of wonder … I wonder what really inspires this person … I wonder what they want to get out of this opportunity … I wonder what skill they really want to develop.

When we really listen, we are often really surprised. Let your employees surprise you and don’t be afraid to surprise others. After all, we all want conversations to engage, develop and challenge. It’s up to you to make them happen.

Conversations kick-starters you can use in your organizations today!

Conversations to Engage

  • What makes for a great day at work?
  • What makes you stay?
  • What might entice you away?
  • How do you like to be recognized?
  • What kind of support do you need from me? What are you not getting?

Conversations to Develop

  • What opportunities are available for your continued growth and development?
  • What skills do you most want to develop in the coming year?
  • What career option most appeals to you in the next three years?
  • What do you most want to learn about?
  • What is the most enriching aspect of your work?

Conversations to Challenge

  • What is holding you back from taking the next step at work?
  • What is your reputation in the organization?
  • Who do you enjoy collaborating within the organization? How are you building that network?
  • What can you improve on?
  • What feedback do you need and from whom?

“Let your employees surprise you and don’t be afraid to surprise others.”

This article is written and published by Career Systems International.

  Wendy Tan   Jul 03, 2017   Article-Consulting, Career Development, Engagement   Comments Off on Conversations to Engage, Develop and Challenge   Read More

Elevating the Employee Experience

Employee engagement. What is it? Where do you start? And how do you go from a place where you are managing attrition to attrition managing you? EY, a global professional services organization of member firms with more than 200,000 employees and operating in more than 150 countries, faced a problem common in the professional services industry: attrition. In past years, attrition of personnel from the assurance practice of the U.S. firm’s central region started to trend upward. Today, the U.S. firm is seeing a decrease overall and, at some levels, more than a 10 percent decrease. What happened? Did people just stop leaving? No, but EY realized success when it began to understand what was behind the attrition in the first place.

“Attrition challenges led EY to re-evaluate its employee engagement and career-planning strategies.”

Connecting the dots: Exit data and onboarding

“We started centralizing our exit data and connecting it to our onboarding process,” says Diana Kutz, a talent leader at EY. “By connecting these dots, we got ahead of risk. We also started conducting focus groups with our professionals on why they stay. Why people leave and why they stay is not always the same, so understanding both is equally important.”

Some of the data captured include whether professionals feel they are using their skills and if they are experiencing and doing the things EY described during the interview process. Personnel also were asked if they understand EY’s vision, how they fit into the vision if they would recommend EY as a future employer to others if they are satisfied with their decision to join EY—and would they make the same decision again, knowing what they know now.

Exit surveys also are telling. The information learned from these conversations fed into the company’s onboarding process, so EY can see at an individual level how one acclimates over a period of time. “It’s all about putting leading and lagging indicators together,” Kutz says.

The firm also started to track if an individual’s departure was a push or a pull. A push means EY had complete control over the turnover, and a pull means it did not.

A typical push could be the lack of honest feedback and be passing the responsibility to someone else to deliver the performance feedback. A pull could be a situation where a professional leaves the firm to care for a sick relative or because of a spouse’s employment relocation to a region where EY does not have an office.

“We directionally look for our push to come down, which indicates our culture is moving in the right direction,” Kutz explains. “Since our journey began, we’ve seen our push come down over 15 percent and it directionally continues to come down over time, which tells me we are moving our culture in the right direction.”

Next, EY introduced an engagement team survey called “Rate My Engagement,” which enables team members to share their experience at the engagement team level in four key areas: team culture, flexibility, client environment/engagement, and communications.

“Collecting these insights enabled us to understand trends at the engagement team level, where our professionals spend over 80 percent of their time in an average week,” Kutz notes. “Rate My Engagement also enabled our teams to focus on their unique needs as a collective team, providing greater ownership into the team’s experience.”

She adds: “Teams are recognizing engagement team efficiencies and, ultimately, achieving better business results, such as higher levels of retention that increases team continuity and other sustainable results.”

Looking back, the best part about Rate My Engagement is how the firm has been able to replicate it. What started as an idea from junior staff, adopted by regional leadership, has been rolled out rapidly across the firm and is expanding globally.

“Connecting the engagement team experience to our exit and onboarding data has given us a deeper appreciation for what impacts the experience for our people while seeing a direct correlation to a team’s business results. It’s been incredibly powerful,” Kutz says.

JournEY Day

Collecting the data from all three sources also helped to inspire members of EY’s workforce who wanted to be a part of the solution. Their inspiration? JournEY Day.

JournEY Day is an annual event dedicated to focusing on key business drivers, learning, and critical issues facing the assurance practice of the U.S. firm’s central region. The theme for JournEY Day shifts each year and often is based on the pulse of the organization and what’s top of mind with EY professionals.

To take the pulse, EY pushes out regular surveys to professionals of its assurance practice, but not just any survey. It’s a gamified “morale thermometer” designed to help the organization understand how employees are feeling on a five-point scale. “The thermometer is pushed out to employees during the busy season, arguably the most stressful time each year, so we can really gauge people’s sentiments,” Kutz explains.

“Our theme for 2015 focused on cars, so we featured a morale speedometer with the scale ranging from ‘My tank is empty’ to ‘Topped off and ready for the long haul.’” It turned out that the tank was empty for quite a few EY employees on the topic of planning and managing one’s career at EY, so career planning became the focus of JournEY Day in 2015. Leveraging the thermometer, EY follows up with team discussions on what the firm can stop, start, or continue doing. Those thoughts are centralized at the regional level so top themes can be addressed. These meetings also allow for innovative ideas to be shared and, more importantly, implemented.

This year, leveraging the car theme, event organizers created and deployed a personal application for employees called “Me, MY experiences” in time for JournEY Day. The tool showcased the many experiences available to assurance professionals at EY and provided employees with a way to sort potential career and personal experiences in the short-, medium-, and long-term categories.

At the same time—and because EY wants its professionals to envision their career journey—employees could rank how they were feeling along the way with road signs such as “Baby on Board,” “Dead End,” or “Green Light—Full Speed Ahead!” The tool enables consistent conversations between managers and their employees and a way to drive dialogue around many important topics.

The personal application was only the beginning. On JournEY Day, leaders and managers gathered face-to-face to focus on career planning and value. Some of the events of the day included:

  • A team building activity that highlighted how a career in audit might look like. They developed a game that challenged employees along their career route, and participants could collect envelopes with tips, similar to tips one might gather from a mentor, to help them successfully navigate their journey.
  • A panel discussion with boomerang employees (those who left the firm and returned), experienced hires, alumni, headhunters, and global exchange employees to allow for varying views in careers. “No two careers are alike, even if the same in the title, so it’s important to share stories of varied experiences as likely many of our professionals have similar questions or thoughts. Our message is ‘Don’t go it alone—have conversations, be curious,’” Kutz explains.
  • Breakout sessions, by level so that employees in each rank could see the next steps and get curious about the possibilities of their future with the firm.

Who am I and what are my options?

To further demonstrate the value of an EY career, the regional assurance group recently added a framework it has coined “Upnext,” produced and developed by the group’s professionals, that enables them to see the peripheral and upward view of the opportunities both inside and outside the firm, including the value of their experiences over time. Accompanying the framework were monthly calls with rotating topics on the various options available at various points in an employee’s career both inside and outside the firm to further develop and expand one’s experiences over time. The topics range from internal service line

Accompanying the framework were monthly calls with rotating topics on the various options available at various points in an employee’s career both inside and outside the firm to further develop and expand one’s experiences over time. The topics range from internal service line opportunities to other service line opportunities, to external opportunities such as joining a board.

Anyone interested can dial in and ask questions or just listen. This framework also helps assurance professionals update their “Me” diary and leads career conversations to better questions about what comes next.

“We are in the business of developing careers,” Kutz says. “Building tomorrow’s leaders today starts with transparency, which builds trust. We can either be a part of their thought process or not, and I’d prefer the former. My hope is that each professional can learn more about who they are and what their options are.”

The winning formula

EY’s quest to reduce attrition is working. During the past few years, the firm’s annual Global People Survey results show that EY’s central region assurance group realized a 12-point increase in its employee engagement index with steady climbing results year over year. And this was achieved during a busy time of year in a highly regulated environment. In addition, the central region assurance group has realized a higher concentration, compared with history, of boomerangs returning to the firm.

So, what’s at the core of EY’s winning formula for increasing engagement and reducing attrition? The people.

“Our people have the answers,” Kutz notes. “You just have to capitalize on the opportunity to get them involved.” Leaders must set the tone and be catalysts for change, but their engagement needs to be fun, not forced. It’s not always about what you do, but more about how you do it. And, when it comes to measuring success, look to build it into existing processes.

“You’ll never be surprised once your analytics are built into the way you operate and offer accountability,” says Kutz.

Finally, success at EY hinges on being consistent for the long haul.

“I am not claiming victory yet. We continue to learn by diving deeper into our success indicators through predictive analytics and other qualitative measures,” explains Kutz. “More importantly, I believe in the power of our people having a voice in the business. Doing so creates an innovative culture that is fun and agile—it’s our culture, it’s our exceptional EY experience.”

“Leaders must set the tone and be a catalyst for change but their engagement needs to be fun, not forced.”

This article is written by Beverly Crowell, for Talent Development Magazine

  Wendy Tan   Jul 03, 2017   Article-Consulting, Engagement, Resource for Performance Conversations   Comments Off on Elevating the Employee Experience   Read More

5 Ways to Cure Millennials of Career Impatience

A consistent complaint about millennials is their unrealistic timeline for being promoted. They want a pay bump in a few months, a promotion a few months later, and the title of CEO by end of their first year. Growing up in fast times and coming of age in an on-demand culture, millennials have little patience for stagnation, especially when it comes to their careers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of April 2016 millennials held an average of 7.2 jobs from age 18 through age 28. A 2016 Gallup report revealed that 21 percent of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year — more than three times the number of non-millennials. What’s more, this millennial turnover is costing the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

As work cycles continue to spin faster and project timelines become shorter, millennial employees will move up or move on with greater frequency than previous generations.

Leaders need to get more comfortable with the accelerated career advancement expectations of millennials and arm themselves with a few strategies to satisfy their desire for career progression and stop job-hopping.

To fully satisfy the diverse needs and desires of your millennial team, consider using a combination of these approaches. 

1. Mine the Motivation

Millennials are accustomed to external motivators. Perks, trophies and praise were used to motivate millennials as they grew up. Because of this, many millennials lack the internal motivation to overcome career impatience. If you want to deepen the determination and motivation of your millennial employees, it’s up to the leaders to cultivate it.

The responsibility rests on leaders to cast a compelling vision and help millennials discover their personal (intrinsic) motivation in achieving the vision and progressing within the organization. Help them to identify the necessary grit that won’t let them quit.

Millennials who gain early clarity on their internal motivations and career progression goals will be able to adjust their expectations and will be better equipped to explore cross-collaboration opportunities to gain more experience and to put their anxious ambition to good use.

2. Commit to Coaching

Coaching is the leadership style that resonates most with millennials. Millennials were raised in organized activities where they were consistently surrounded by coaches. They view coaching as their path to greatness. The best coaches train, guide and advance while taking deep interest in those they coach.

Effective coaching builds trust, instills loyalty and helps millennials become valuable faster. Coaching allows a leader to reflect on the progress and impact a millennial is having at the organization and recommend the right opportunities where they could continue their growth and develop.

Coaching allows leaders to anticipate when a millennial is struggling, frustrated, bored or underemployed before they decide to leave the company. Leaders should reemphasize there is no quick remedy for job satisfaction. It’s a slow, uncomfortable and complicated process

3. Connect With Contribution

Parents encouraged millennials to have a say at an early age. Access to the internet also gave millennials a platform to contribute and have a voice. They now carry this desire to contribute into the workplace. Leaders that create opportunities for millennials to contribute and cocreate will be rewarded with millennial loyalty and longevity.

Too often organizations underestimate the ability and desire millennials have to contribute. Underestimating leads to resentment and underemployment leads to impatience. Create environments that encourage and channels that enable contribution.

“Leaders need to get more comfortable with the accelerated career advancement expectations of millennials and arm themselves with a few strategies to satisfy their desire for career progression and stop job-hopping.”

4. Motivate With Movement

To satisfy millennials’ desire to gain transferable skills, get them moving throughout the organization. Millennials don’t view career paths as linear like a ladder but rather multidimensional like a military cargo climbing net. They might be interested in moving left and then back down before moving up.

Be transparent and proactive in your communications about the available opportunities throughout the organization. Networking or social events, job shadows and online job directories are good examples of ways to help millennials explore movement throughout the organization.

At Taco Bell’s corporate office, the company has a strategy where they loan their employees to other companies. If an employee notices another company is working on a project they are interested in, they can request to be loaned out on a temporary basis to work on that project — a nontraditional approach for a generation that approaches career and learning nontraditionally.

5. Develop for Departure

Offer the training, coaching and mentoring necessary for millennials to develop themselves out of their current role or the organization. Why develop someone out of the organization? Because the alternative of not developing someone and having them stay and underperform is much worse.

Liz Wiseman, author of “Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work,” writes that a rookie mentality — approaching work or a job/task for the first time or from a new perspective — is the key to faster learning, better performance and persisting through failure. Departing millennials can make room for new “rookies” ready to perform better, and can bring a rookie mentality to their new role or company further advancing themselves or the organization

If millennials depart your company, they might not know how good they had it because they have nothing to compare it to this early in their career. When they experience the lack of development at another organization, they will boomerang back to your company. These will become your best company ambassadors. Leverage them wisely.

“The responsibility rests on leaders to cast a compelling vision and help millennials discover their personal (intrinsic) motivation in achieving the vision and progressing within the organization.”

Article written by Ryan Jenkins, Talent Economy Contributor. He is a keynote speaker on generational issues. He is also a columnist for Inc. Magazine.


If these ideas are useful to you, check out our upcoming career planning and career coaching workshops.

Having sat through the entire career development session, we found the content relevant, insightful and inspiring. We enjoyed the stimulating and interesting ways you conveyed the key points. The engaging exercises helped us understand and remember the key concepts too. 

– Andrew Fung, Director, Caliberlink

Thank you so much for conducting the career development session and gave us a lot knowledge for clarifying our career roadmaps as well as doing our jobs in better ways.

– Gordon Chen, Corporate Trainer, Aegis Media

  Wendy Tan   Mar 11, 2017   Career Development, Engagement   Comments Off on 5 Ways to Cure Millennials of Career Impatience   Read More

26 Ways to Create A Most Loved Workplace


According to a study by the Best Practice Institute (BPI) and Career Systems International (CSI), nearly 60% of today’s employees dislike or are neutral about their workplace. That’s a startling statistic when you consider that employees who love their workplace are four times more likely to perform at higher levels than those who do not. Here are 26 simple and practical ways you can help create a workplace employees love and with a boss they love working for … you!

 ASK: What Keeps You?—Do you know what they want?

Ask your employees in an upcoming team meeting to share one idea or way they stay excited at work.

BUCK: It Stops Here—Who’s in charge of keeping them?

Take the time today to ask the employees on your team, “What will make a difference in your day today?” Find simple and easy to implement ideas and ‘just do it.’

CAREER: Support Growth—Are you building their future or are you in the way?

Encourage employees to talk about their strengths, development needs, likes, dislikes and what’s really important. Practice effective listening by going beyond the words to understand what really matters to your employees.

DIGNITY: Show Respect—Do they know that you respect them?

Learn about the differences among your employees. Have a Discovery Day where your employees are encouraged to talk about themselves, where they grew up, holidays and traditions.

ENRICH: Energize the Job—Do your people have to leave to find growth and challenge?

Recognize the talents your employees are ‘not’ using in their job. Find ways to use these talents for job enrichment.

FAMILY: Get Friendly—Avoid making your employees choose between work and family life.

Have a cup of coffee with a fellow manager. Share your frustrations with creating work/life balance and come up with at least one solution.

GOALS: Expand Options—Did you know there are five career paths other than up?

Consider an enrichment opportunity that allows your employees to expand their job, re ne their expertise or find depth in areas they really enjoy.

HIRE: Fit is It—Make a match or start from scratch.

Spend time teaching your recruits about the organization they have joined. Tell stories; share your experiences and knowledge about the organization’s culture and history.

INFORMATION: Share It—Do you have it? Do you hoard it?

Search regularly on the web to find articles related to your industry. Is your industry changing? Share these articles with employees in a team meeting.

JERK: Don’t Be One—Are you one?

Admit when you make a mistake. It’s as simple as that. Your ‘personal’ stock will go up with the people you work with.

KICKS: Get Some—Are we having fun yet?

How long has it been since you’ve sprung for pizza for your team―just to say ‘glad you are here’? Find an opportunity to do it soon.

LINK: Create Connections—If you build them, they will stay.

Host an informal breakfast or lunch for your team. Allow employees time to create connections in their group to grow relationships.

MENTOR: Be One—Are they learning from you?

Utilize other employees to mentor new hires in getting them up to speed quickly and in guiding them through the orientation process.

NUMBERS: Run Them—Calculate the cost of loss.

Do you know what the cost of annual turnover is in your organization? If not, find out. Ask a fellow manager, your boss or Human Resources.

OPPORTUNITY: Mine Them—Will they find them inside or outside?

Talk to other managers in your organization about opportunities they have. Share these opportunities with your employees to encourage growth and development on your team.

PASSION: Encourage It—Help them find the work they love… without leaving.

There are clues all around to help discover what employees have passion about. Place a paper and pen in your pocket and, for the next few days, write down all of the things you observe that seem to provide enjoyment to your employees.

QUESTION: Reconsider the Rules— Which will you keep… the rules or the people?

When an employee comes to you with a new idea, consider listening closely and saying ‘let’s give it a try.’

REWARD: Provide Recognition— Which matters more… praise or pay?

Find an opportunity today to offer a sincere thank you to an employee. Be consistent in demonstrating to employees that you appreciate their efforts

SPACE: Give It—Are your people on a short leash?

Talk with a solid performer today. Identify a task that they can start doing without your direct supervision.

TRUTH: Tell It—The truth hurts… or does it?

What can you do on a daily basis with your team and others to build a reputation where others know that they can count on you to be open and honest? Develop an action step and get feedback from people you respect as you work on it.

UNDERSTAND: Listen Deep—When you tune out, you lose out…. and they move out.

Invite employees to schedule a 15 minute ‘listening time’ with you. Leave the agenda open so the employee can talk about whatever they desire. Your role is to have an open ear–to understand their perspectives, ideas and concerns. Just listen!

VALUES: Define and Align—What matters most to them?

Ask employees, “What are our values as a team?” Talk about how your values are similar and different. Discuss the benefits to the team of a diverse set of values.

WELLNESS: Sustain It—Are they sick or tired?

Ask employees to rate the level of stress at work on a day-to- day basis. Use a scale of one to five, with five being the highest. Average the scores and then ask, “What is one thing we can do to reduce this score by a point?” Take small steps that could have a big result.

X-ERS AND OTHERS: Handle with Care—They are different. Can you keep them?

Talk with fellow managers from different generations. How do their perspectives and expectations differ from yours?

ZENITH: Go for It—Sustain your commitment to engagement.

In a team meeting or in talking with an employee today ask, “What can we explore or learn as a team to make us more successful?” Exploring is learning. Learn what your team needs to know.

Express gratitude today – and everyday!

  Wendy Tan   Mar 11, 2017   Engagement   Comments Off on 26 Ways to Create A Most Loved Workplace   Read More
Copyright ©2013-2020 The Flame Centre.