In preparation for an upcoming keynote in Chicago, I called several business owners who plan to attend. I like to get a feel for the audience before I speak.
After getting acquainted on the phone, I asked each one the same question. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your business? They had their own way of saying it, but they all described the same challenge.
10 challenges business owners face:
- Making money.
- Health insurance.
- Government regulations.
- Fatigue – managing energy – optimism.
- Managing cash flow.
- Managing people.
- Solving people problems.
- Attracting and retaining top talent.
- Customer service.
- Decision-making in turbulent or uncertain environments.
(The above list is in no particular order.)
The #1 challenge:
Whether 2017 was a great year or a mediocre year for their businesses, the top challenge the business owners face was the same. How do I get and keep good people?
The purpose of the conversations I had with the business owners was to learn, not explore answers. So I listened and asked questions. I’ve been mulling over the challenge since.
A consultant might say, “Do these ten things to attract and retain top talent. I come at things from a coaching perspective. I might start the conversation with the following questions.
#1. What is top talent? You need a clear picture of the character and skills you’re looking to attract.
#2. Who has stayed with your business for a long time? (Assuming they are top talent as described in #1.) What factors have contributed to their longevity? How might you validate your observations? How do your observations impact the hiring process? Retention plans?
#3. Would you love to work for you?
To change anything, you must focus on things within your control.
“Would you love to work for you,” leads to self-reflection and focuses on things within your control.
I’ve been remembering the people I worked for. I’ve had some lousy bosses and a couple I loved working for.
The bosses I loved working for:
- Liked me. Call it shallow, but I like being around people who like me.
- Worked hard and expected me to work hard.
- Enjoyed work. I saw them frustrated, but I often saw them smile and heard them laugh.
- Brought heart to work. They cared.
- Showed respect.
- Practiced generosity. Sometimes they bought lunch.
- Gave me opportunity, if I earned it. I hated the feeling of being held back.
There’s more to attracting and retaining top talent than being a great boss. The conversation includes compensation, benefits, nature of the job, and culture, for example.
Issues like autonomy, mastery, meaning, and connectedness come to mind, as well.
You might approach this challenge by asking:
- If things were going perfectly, what would it look like?
- What behaviors move you and your organization in that direction?
- What will you do next?
What are the main factors in attracting and retaining top talent?
What type of boss would you love to work for?
*I relax my 300 word limit on weekends.
Coming soon: Mark Miller’s new book, “Talent Magnet,” is released on February 27, 2018. I’ve scheduled a guest post with Mark and a book giveaway on Feb. 21. You can pre-order Mark’s book here.