To paraphrase Warren Buffett, “When the tide goes out, it reveals who’s been swimming naked.” Right now, companies are hemorrhaging talent that they’ve invested extraordinary amounts of energy, time, and precious capital to attract, retain, and develop. How’d they get caught with their pants down?
Many executive boards and top leaders deluded themselves by thinking they were committed to investing in the careers of their people. But there was no “there” there – it was all talk, no action. Now they’re treading water in the wake of the tidal wave of the Great Resignation, as the pretty picture companies painted is revealed as beauty that’s only skin deep.
One thing we’ve learned by working with Fortune 500s and senior leaders is that you have to have a strong, healthy corporate DNA to support a successful corporate structure. The best organizations that we work with are creating a new and improved way to reduce turnover and elevate employee engagement. They develop team members into increasingly valuable assets. That ensures that you can promote from within the organization with confidence – not from a place of desperation because your leader abruptly quit.
You raise morale, motivate team members with a clear roadmap of upwardly mobile career growth. That’s how you ensure a sustainable talent pipeline – without having to overextend your capital resources to lure leaders from outside. According to the McKinsey Great Attrition Survey, three of the top reasons employees leave the workforce are:
1. Uncaring Leaders
C-Suite leaders need to look across the organization and not be afraid to scrutinize the leadership abilities of every single one of their direct reports. Fear of another turnover can cause them to hesitate. But much worse damage to other employees will be inflicted if you keep the wrong leaders in place despite evidence that they aren’t getting the job done. If you think some development training will correct the deficiencies, get support from a qualified executive coach.
2. Deficient Career Development and Advancement Potential
Hiring a coach who can potentially transform a mediocre leader into a great one is much less costly than replacing them. It’s also cheaper and easier than having to fill the roles of their disillusioned team members who leave for the greener pastures they deserve. I’m also always amazed when I ask managers or senior executives about their succession planning, only to find out they don’t have a viable plan.
3. A Lack of Meaningful Work
If people are in the right roles their work will feel rewarding. They’ll give you their best, day-in, day-out. Leaders need to ask what their team members want from their careers and lives. Only then can you facilitate those goals and dreams and give their work genuine purpose and meaning. Remember, your leadership success is only defined by the success of those you lead. Make their success your number one priority.
Strong, vital DNA has a multiplier impact, because it permeates organizations and gets passed along to the next generation. Desirable strands of DNA build from employee to employee, team to team, and department to department. Cross-collaboration becomes a natural, organic outcome – and stimulates innovation. That makes everyone’s life easier – with the exception of your competitors who will wonder what’s your secret sauce.
Everyone knows that clever business buzzwords are just lipstick on a pig, unless you back them up with measurable action. Don’t let putting forth a good image prevent you from acknowledging any shortcomings holding you back. Ask yourself these important questions:
- How do you measure your leaders in terms of their ability to promote careers from within and increase retention rates?
- Are you or anyone else in the organization drinking that Kool-Aid?
- Shine a light in the corner, with the hard questions like “Where is our DNA weak, and how can we fix it?”
The more practiced you become at creating the right kind of organizational DNA, the more it is nurtured and strengthened. You’ll reap higher dividends that continue to compound value year after year.