Miguel Llorca. Corporate CIO, Torrent Group | Microsoft MVP & MCT, Enterprise Architect, Technology Strategist & Speaker.
Attracting talented employees to our companies and retaining them has always been a struggle, but it was nothing compared to what most companies and leaders experienced when the pandemic arrived. Now, leaders and employees alike have had to manage so many drastic changes in working, taking care of loved ones and reconciling both their professional and personal lives.
Suddenly, what used to only happen in certain sectors, like technology, was spreading to the entire market. Proof of this is the “Great Resignation,” which spread from the U.S. to different corners of the world. People are not only looking for a salary at the end of the month. They also need to grow and to feel useful, fulfilled and complete. They need to feel like they have a purpose not only in the workplace but also in their homes and with their loved ones.
How To Manage Employees With New Expectations
Because of these shifts, micromanagement is over. Paradoxically, the best way to retain talent is by giving employees as much freedom as possible.
This is a key issue that has very specifically punished the technology sector, which has one of the highest rates of staff turnover. Why? Very simple because of the bosses in most cases.
We usually have this problem with middle managers. In the technology industry, it is common to fall into the error of choosing profiles for their technical capabilities, not for their soft skills. Veteran technicians are often rewarded with a promotion over time, but no one has bothered to see if they really are leaders or if they will end up causing their team members to quit, as they tend to control all parts of a project, including the most insignificant details, preventing any decision from being made without first going through them for approval.
There is a big difference between “leading a team” and “leading with the team.” If you are a leader in the technology industry, how much does this sound like to you?
The members of a team need to have confidence and autonomy, as well as receive adequate attention and feel heard, understood and considered. Teams are made up of people, human beings who have emotions, aspirations, fears and needs. Leaders must lead with humility, being aware that we do not have the answers to everything and that thanks to teamwork, we will achieve the proposed goals.
In fact, we should never speak of “retaining” talent but rather of loyalty. Talent, by definition, is not something that we can retain. It is something intangible, like air. Capable of leaking, of being diluted, it always finds a way out, whether it escapes inside or outside the organization (better inside, of course).
This is why, in the current context of acceleration, it is important to take care of employees and give them the necessary freedom. Because, like the air, talent tends to occupy the space when we leave it alone. In this way, we can generate value from talented people and create loyalty.
For a talented person, growth is a must. Many organizations opt for immediate and short-term vision based on a higher salary. The great challenge for companies is to understand that these needs transcend beyond the strict contractual framework that unites an employee and the company, where a job is performed and remunerated for its performance.
How To Give Employees A Feeling Of Purpose
People must feel identified with the mission and values of the organization to which they belong because, ultimately, what is the purpose?
We talk about “purpose” as if it were the Holy Grail, something tremendously difficult to find, even mystical. But the reality is that a purpose is nothing more than generating a connection between your actions with something that makes sense to you. Therefore, one of the key challenges for companies is to align their teams with the strategic objectives of the organization through a mission and values that make sense to the people who are part of it in order to have a long-awaited “shared purpose.”
Now, a purpose by itself (or the search for it) is not going to free us from the current crisis that has caused this “perfect storm” of events, nor will it make us less uncertain. It must go hand in hand with a solid business plan and a well-defined strategy, and it must be accompanied by a team of top-level professionals.
Even these strategies are no guarantee that we can weather this crisis or others to come.
Of course, when we identify our purpose (people and organizations), we will be much happier and feel much more complete and fulfilled. Knowing that we have done what we have done for a reason that makes sense to us.
In short, the smartest organizational posture is to provide talent with its space, meaning and responsibility, helping to connect its purpose with that of our organization in a framework where each person can freely express their talent.
Hi, I’m Oren, founder at BIGINTRO, a content strategy agency that helps B2B companies drive growth. We develop search, social, PR, and content marketing strategies tailored to business goals. I also have a dog named Milo.