Effectively managing talent is critical for project-focused companies who rely on their people to provide value to the business. Leverage these ten tips to ensure your people are working at peak productivity, delivering exceptional projects to delight clients, and driving organizational growth. Each of these tips will help you manage and retain more top talent while consistently contributing to the overall business strategy.
Keep Communicating – Make a conscious effort to listen and talk to your employees about their frustrations and aspirations within the company. Take time to really listen; remind them how much you appreciate their work and value their contribution to the firm. Keep the lines of communication open by leveraging continuous feedback sessions and implementing project-based appraisals.
The Stars Are Aligned – Keep your top performers in tune with the current corporate strategy. This creates a culture of reciprocity and mutual understanding for both the company and its employees. You will start to see personal goals align with the overall organization’s goals.
Emphasize Strengths – Use development plans to address the weaknesses and problems of your employees while honing in on their talent potential. Consider strategically assigning employees to projects that will help them strengthen new skills. Utilize development plans, career paths, and learning opportunities to help employees recognize their strengths while closing competency gaps.
Think Like a Headhunter – When it comes to your top talent you must know who they are, what skills they possess, and their potential within your firm before someone else does. There are few things worse than losing an important project leader or an individual contributor at a critical juncture in a project delivery cycle. Think like a recruiter and cultivate your existing talent by including them in succession plans. Employees are more likely to stay with you longer if they understand their path within your organization.
Be More Inclusive – Research shows that 75% of diverse organizations are more likely to see their innovative ideas brought to life. This statistic stems from leaders embracing diversity and encouraging their employees to speak up about their opinions. Creating a diverse and inclusive environment allows employees and managers to embrace innovation.
Know What Success Looks Like – Define success by creating competency models. The ability to measure your employees’ performance allows you to determine their success within the construct of your company. Best-in-class companies don’t rely on subjective thoughts to determine their talent performance, but rather, they create competency models throughout their organization to build a model of sustainable success.
Who’s Ready to Move Up? – Identifying potential leaders is one step towards filling vacant leadership roles. The second step is to have a clear path to identify and develop their skills. Most companies identify but forget to develop leadership skills. Take the time to identify, develop, and refine your potential leaders.
Plan, Plan, Plan – The best thing you can do to face the competition for talent is to plan. Creating and building a robust and comprehensive talent management solution strategy is a big feat. Take the time to plan and build your talent management solution strategy for effective and sustainable success that flows from within.
Embrace Data – Big Data seems overwhelming, but with the help of a unified technology solution, it can be a manageable and powerful tool to fuel the success of your company. Having a unified HR technology solution can help you handle talent-related data and provide straightforward and powerful analytics utilized in all stages of the talent management strategy.
Reduce Turnover, But Do It Right – Low turnover sounds great, but make sure that the small number of people leaving are not your best people. Turnover is expensive, but no matter the size, make sure that the attrition of your best talent stays low. Top performers are difficult to replace and can have a material impact on your project delivery
Relationships and communication drive the world…we all realize this. I am not simply referring to “who you know” although certainly that comes to mind. I am referring more to the fact that every single day, we have opportunities to create, sustain, strengthen, damage or dissolve relationships. We have chances at every turn to do positive things and choose actions that impact lives. The most subtle interaction that we take for granted could invigorate another person and be a turning point for their career, or their life. The simplest interaction can have profound impact. I am certain you can think back to several (seemingly small) interactions in life that have altered your path. Hopefully, these were for the positive, but we all know it can certainly work the opposite way.
Real Stories That Alter Paths
Let’s relate this to the workplace with several quick examples from my past to which I am certain you can relate.
Story #1: I was about three months into my staffing/recruiting career. I was failing, horrifically. I was 23, unmotivated, a little lost in life during my transition from college to the working world, and simply under-performing. I had a manager that pulled me aside one day (after a couple verbal discussions) to discuss with me that I wasn’t ramping up my billing quickly enough. She asked me to take a walk and we went to another area of the company property and sat at a picnic table. She looked me in the eyes, told me how it was, and also offered to listen to “what was going on” because I was not performing as advertised in my interview. Immediately I was taken aback and defensive, but after the interaction, I realized that she had an interest in me, and in helping me turn this new career around. She could have terminated me and hired someone else or let me continue to fail to strengthen her case for eventual termination. She did neither, and invested a bit in me emotionally. I went on to become a senior manager in that company just two years later. A simple, direct and genuine discussion that many would overlook resulted in me steering my career towards significant success.
Increase Employee Engagement with Continuous Goal Management
Story #2: I was about two years into my corporate Human Resources (HR) career when it suddenly struck me on a rather slow day that if I wanted, I could totally see my employee file. It was more of a sudden curiosity that struck me rather than this crazy (seemingly obvious) revelation. I went to the filing cabinet (yes, I am that old – electronic employee files were just starting to gain ground), grabbed my file, and headed back to my desk. On the left inside tab was my resume from my initial interview. As I was about to breeze past it, I noticed a note my manager wrote in the upper right corner in all capital letters. It simply said “POTENTIAL.” This is a word that I am not sure I ever heard someone say to me, or about me. I still to this day feel an immense sense of pride and motivation to live up to that. I think about it all the time, and am incredibly thankful and humbled that someone so talented thought this about me.
Story #3: Fast forward to present day. Here I am at Deltek. I made a total career change at age 40, transitioning from being a senior HR practitioner to the Human Capital Management (HCM) product management world. This was a transition that many would not have made. I was divorced, splitting custody of my wonderful kids, and a one income household. Why would I take a near twenty year career in HR and make this move at this time when there was so much risk? What if I failed? How would I take care of my kids and support us? Even with those concerns in mind, I was determined to be successful in this new path and demonstrate to myself and my kids that I could do this, that it can be done at any age, and that I could succeed at a very challenging career. It was only about two weeks into this position and my head was spinning. All new acronyms (a ton of them) to learn, the technology seemed intimidating, and I was sure certain people were wondering how I got this position. I had a regularly scheduled 1-on-1 discussion with my new manager who had recruited me. I remember vividly that I was relaying some initial observations and I asked her for direction on how I should tackle product strategy. Two weeks, brand new to this career and organization, my manager said to me, “I trust your decisions and that you will make the right ones.” I thought to myself, “who says that two weeks in to an employee?” I was brand new, I hadn’t earned this trust yet, and there was no reason for me to receive this trust (at least in my mind). It was that near twenty-year career and all that came with it that earned the trust, and there was absolutely no way I was not going to deliver.
Three situations, all extremely different, and yet all have a commonality. In every situation, there was a simple interaction (verbal or written); one word, one line, or a quick discussion that shaped not just my career, but my life. I love my career and the path I have taken. I have enjoyed a ton of success that I can honestly attribute to a handful of individuals who simply took an interest in my development. They spoke to me consistently in a genuine manner, and helped me get to where I am.
Communication Is the Past, Present and Future
It is these opportunities to connect and influence that we need to act on. In order to do this, as HR professionals and leaders, we must build and foster the right processes and culture that help create stories like the above. Note that not a single one of my most defining moments in my career had anything to do with notes or comments from a performance appraisal. To this day, I cannot remember a single comment any manager has ever made on a performance appraisal, not one. What I can remember, and what has impacted my career are the moments of compassion and investment.
To be direct, if you have not adopted the Continuous Feedback process in your organization, you are most likely missing out on creating more moments like the above. If your primary performance management tool is still appraisals, you have very little opportunity to create similar impact. Relying largely on an antiquated, non-specific, disingenuous and untimely method of employee engagement, development and measurement is costing your business. Continuous Feedback and ongoing communication have transformed the workplace with a mechanism that fosters opportunities for stories like the above.
To close, I want to note that on a personal level as a father to two amazing kids, I recognize just how important key relationships and communication are. My kids look to me for so many things: support, leadership, development and encouragement. Do the four items I just mentioned sound like anything else? Just like being a leader in the workplace, all of these items rely on constant communication and feedback to foster growth, encourage learning, development and success. There are so many similarities between personal and professional lives, although we are taught often times to keep them separate. That doesn’t mean though that the skills and processes are not transferable. My challenge to you is this. Are you developing, implementing and fostering processes that can lead to positive impacts on lives? If not, it is definitely time for transformation.
As financial professionals, our HR counterparts are the most important allies we could possibly have. They should be our strategic planning partners and our confidants. So why don’t we team up more often? In the majority of cases, I think it’s because of how we work. Fractured systems isolate us professionally, making it difficult to understand the points of synergy between our two worlds. During my years in finance, I didn’t understand the value of human capital because it wasn’t something I could capture on a balance sheet. There is no generally accepted accounting principal to assign monetary value to talent, but the intrinsic value is there, just the same.
A growing demand to track Human Capital Management (HCM) metrics is putting pressure on already burdened HR professionals. Digital HCM is the future of HR and promises to become the strategic keystone we need. So why are we so slow to embrace it? Many companies are still struggling to manually piece together information from payroll, finance, and even sales in order to extract sophisticated insights from data. Unlike most HR professionals, those of us in Finance are already accustomed to this type of analytical work. We’ve been forced to leverage technology to track and benchmark metrics far longer than our friends in HR. We’re familiar with the challenges of disparate systems and what it takes to build bridges between human capital management (HCM) and financial ERP solutions. Think of the possibilities.
Establish HCM as an integral part of the business
As the finance leader in your organization, you are typically included in strategic planning activities. If you haven’t already invited your HR counterparts to the table, I encourage you to do so now. They could be one of your most strategic partners as they understand the value of your firm’s workforce and how to increase that value through thoughtful investment.
Below are 5 ways finance can (and should) partner with HR:
1. Establish a Human Capital Management Strategy
Encourage your firm’s leaders to establish human capital management as a strategic function and recognize that they are a valuable, untapped resource. Focus on how to grow the business organically by tapping into the productivity that results from a highly engaged workforce. Attracting, developing, and optimizing great people will help your firm lead the industry with high performing teams. 2. Create an HR Technology Roadmap
For most firms, the road to a fully integrated HR technology solution is just the beginning. Prepare your firm for the total investment in terms of budget and time. Create a roadmap to help all stakeholders in your firm understand what it will take to successfully craft and implement a digital human capital management strategy. 3. Integrate HR and ERP technology
The integration of these two technologies is a must for any strategic HR roadmap. Integrating critical business functions is the only way to get the analytics required to optimize your workforce. Integration will allow employee information to be pushed into the ERP system to facilitate the project lifecycle. Critical data around time and attendance, employee expense reports, and employees will be able to move between systems and streamline the allocation of costs to projects, improve resource planning, and automate payroll. 4. Enable Collaboration
Be sure to include collaboration tools in your HR technology roadmap. Project work is often spread across locations and teams, making it necessary to have tools in place that enable dispersed teams to communicate and work together. Collaboration tools can also help to identify disengaged employees faster and ramp new employees more quickly. 5. Choose a Partner
Software was once something that we bought and used. Today, when you choose a tool, you are also choosing a partner. Spending time evaluating features and functionality is not enough. Chose a partner that understands project-based firms and your unique challenges. Make sure they have made the right investments in solutions for your industry and aligned with your needs.
Although on the surface the goals of Finance and HR may appear different; they are much more aligned than most of us realize. We both want to be able to analyze, manage, and optimize the workforce in order to predict future needs, improve utilization and grow profitability. It’s time to recognize this and come together with a mutual understanding of how so much untapped value is lying dormant in our organizations. It’s hard to quantify, you can’t report it in your financial statements, but people are our greatest asset and the true source of our organization’s value.
Why is it so important that organizations set clear, well developed goals? Many of us see goal setting as a chore we must complete at the beginning of each appraisal cycle without really understanding the impact or importance of the process. If done correctly, goals can motivate employees, help align business processes and improve the overall performance of the company.
How can goals help to align employees and business units with the overall organizational business processes? There needs to be great visibility throughout the goals of the company. If realistic goals are set and there is a vast deal of information sharing during the goal creation process, goals throughout the organization will be consistent. Visibility into the organizational goals enables employees to align their own goals with those of the organization to ensure they are helping support and contribute to the future of the company. Furthermore, this can help clarify the roles of all employees in the company so they are clear in how their performance contributes to the overall success.
Not only is determining a realistic time frame a key factor in monitoring a goal, but also determining how it will be achieved and how it will be measured. In some cases, a particular goal may require several objectives to be adequately monitored. Goals without objectives are essentially meaningless because progress is impossible to measure. It is this level of specificity sets goals and objectives apart.
The bottom line is that goal setting is not just an annual exercise all employees need to go through so they can check off the box in their list of tasks to complete. Goals are critical to the success of a company and when the proper attention and priority are given to the creation of realistic goals, the outcome realized will definitely be well worth the effort invested up-front.
Why does the new hire experience matter? If you are asking yourself this, think back to the last time you started at a company and how it set your expectations for what working there would be like. Were you made aware of your expectations? Did you understand what you needed to do, both from a paperwork and also to get up to speed in the new position? And how did your interactions with your team affect your success in the early days of the new job?
And, even if you had a good experience, there is a good chance you’ve also had a bad one, so don’t forget to think about that, too, and how it may have set the stage quite early for your decision to move on.
Some of the common frustrations of new hires when they come into the work space stem around a few areas: too much paperwork, nothing is ready, and everyone is too busy to help them. There are solutions you can put in place in both cases to alleviate these concerns and make the experience positive for everyone.
Too much paperwork
There are so many forms a new hire has to complete, it is not uncommon to spend a significant amount of time with HR or alone at their desk on their first day filling them out – and this isn’t fun for anyone. Where ever possible, you should make these forms available for the new hire to complete before their first day on the job – an online onboarding portal is the perfect place to capture this information. Definitely make sure to include government forms, employee manual, and code of conduct, but also make sure that this new hire portal is welcoming to new employees by sharing a written message or welcome video.
Nothing is ready
Part of making the new hire feel welcome is having things ready for them when they get there. Having a desk is great (especially if that desk is already assembled for them), but there are many other things – such as laptop, phone, email, and office supplies – that should be ready for them day one. This can be done quite easily by letting others know ahead of time that the new hire is joining. Once you’ve had that offer accepted and are ready to move forward it is time to let others know that your new hire is coming so there is no delay and no sitting twiddling thumbs on their first day.
Everyone is too busy to help
While it can be hard to have everyone stop what they are doing and help the new hire get adjusted, you should have at least a few people in their corner to help them succeed. At a minimum, HR and their manager need to make an effort to meet with them their first few days – HR to wrap up any outstanding paperwork and answer questions, and their manager to introduce them to their new team and make sure they know and have what they need to perform their job duties. But you should consider adding a third person to this mix – a buddy or mentor is a great way to build a relationship between employees and make sure they have a good example to follow. This buddy can be involved earlier than the first day, too, by including them in interviews and welcome aboard messaging. They will also be a great resource for the new hire (especially if the manager is busy as is often the case) as a helper, keeper of knowledge, and coach in special skills needed for the job.
New hires and their experience matter, so make sure you take the above into account to plan for success. Engage the team and mentors in a new hire’s success and work together to win for both the new hire and the team. To get more insights watch our webinar: Enhancing Onboarding for Shorter Time to Productivity
Gallup studies show employee engagement is on the rise and, hand-in-hand with this, so are engagement initiatives with many companies going so far as to assess their managers based on how well their employees are engaged. The link between top performing companies and a highly engaged workforce is becoming more and more evident as this trend takes hold.
Who is engaged?
Employee engagement differs between different groups, with managers at the levels at 38.4% and millennials the least engaged at 28.9%. Many factors drive these trends, and for millennials specifically, lack of job opportunities coming out of college or jobs that don’t allow them to feel like a valued and respected member of the team can contribute to this.
What causes employee disengagement?
Whether we like it or not, employees have a life outside of work, and chances are, they care about that life with their family and friends a whole lot more than the 8+ hours a day they spend at the office. That is the life where they are able to create their own goals, set their own priorities, and manage their own work load.
This “dual life” of employees is the root cause of employee disengagement.
What about a lost employee?
A study done by “The Centre for American Progress” shows that the cost of replacing an employee is clustered between 10 percent and 30 percent of an employee’s annual salary.
Consider the real total cost of losing an employee:
Cost of hiring a new person
Cost of onboarding a new person
Customer service and errors
Impact on other employees
How can employee disengagement be addressed?
Many ways in which you interact with employees will drive their engagement at work, but this needs to be something addressed and reinforced at all levels of the organization.
Engagement starts at the top.
Mission and vision statements are a way of living.
Create harmony between the “dual lives” of the employees.
Communication is key.
Invest in your employees’ future careers.
Over the next couple of months, we will expand upon these ideas and dive into how specific areas of talent management can have an impact on your overall employee engagement. Some specific topics will include:
How having mobile talent management tools can increase employee engagement
How career paths can encourage and motivate your employees
How development plans can keep employees engaged and promote growth
How promoting your company culture can lead to a more engaged workforce
What is the impact of performance reviews on employee engagement?