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HRHeadStart #23: Retaining Top Talent; Presentation Skills; Generalists vs. Specialists
The Talent Agenda
In today’s knowledge economy, top talent has a disproportionate impact on organizational performance. They contribute significant value to the organization and also extract significant value in the form of compensation. Money is usually table stakes, not the key motivator of performance. And, as we have experienced during the Great Resignation, employees (and top talent in particular) have options - options that can be damaging for the organization. A lack/loss of talent can stifle the organization’s ability to execute on its strategy. So, what are some potential levers to retain talent?
Firstly, always listen to the voice of the top talent. These people have invested considerably in their skills and accumulated diverse experiences. They don’t really like their ideas being dismissed off-hand. Leaders need to shape a culture where people’s ideas are heard, valued, and if powerful, acted upon.
Secondly, since star employees are so intrinsically motivated, we make the mistake of assuming they don’t need positive reinforcement. But the fact is that such employees push themselves hard on hard things and often experience failures on their paths to success. Hence, they need frequent and individualized recognition.
Finally, star employees are so good that their managers don’t ever want to let them go and work in other teams, thus thwarting their development. A culture of talent hoarding takes shape and eventually leads to talent flight. Leaders often opine that the employees’ skills are specialized and hence, not transferrable to other teams. In practice, well-designed talent mobility programs create better performance (see a live case study I wrote here) and helps in retention.
Some of us have great presentation skills and the others have to work hard on it - nevertheless presentations are an eternal feature of corporate life. There’s advice galore on how to design and deliver presentations effectively, but I really liked the simple points in this article:
Fewer words per slide are better than more words.
More slides per deck are better than fewer slides.
Rehearse once by reading, rehearse once without notes, present once without notes.
A Productive Workout
A workout is a great way to create mindspace for processing and learning new ideas. And it primes you for creative thinking. For your next walk, run or workout session, hear from David Epstein, one of the most brilliant thinkers on the science of performance. For those of you contemplating the question of whether to become a generalist or specialist, I highly recommend his book Range. For a powerful summary of his key ideas, hear him talk about how being generalist creates career success and the right way of doing so. Grab the links Apple Podcasts, Spotify.
Struggling to master a skill is not a sign of weakness. It just means not giving up, successfully.