Our Revive & Thrive in 2011 continues today with Ted Coine and the topic of building a Talent Magnet. Pay attention leaders. Though the lesson is simple it’s one that can no longer elude managers as we recover from the Great Recession. The lesson is this: employees want to be a contribution and want work that is meaningful to them.
Ted Coiné is an author, speaker, serial business founder and (un)CEO; above all he is the business heretic at the helm of the 21st Century Business blog. He is also a frequent contributor to the Sustainable Business Forum. Follow him on twitter.
20th-Century Myth: Humans are a Resource.
Like any resource, to maximize profits they must be exploited. The company that manages its human capital most efficiently, most cost-effectively, will be most profitable. It’s simple math.
Welcome to automation. Welcome to outsourcing. Welcome to eliminating positions and cramming the ex-employees’ work onto the remaining-employees’ to-do lists. Welcome to paying just enough to match the market. Welcome to scrimping on benefits, to follow-the-leader packages that are comparable to the big guys.
21st-Century Fact: Your People Are Your Business.
If you were to start a company today, who would you rather employ: a team you’ve poached from Google, or from Bob’s Discount IT Shop? The manager from your local Lexus dealership, or from New-2-U Cars down by the bus station? A CFO from Deloitte, or from Aardvark Discount Taxes?
If I were to start another business – and, as it turns out, I am – I would set one goal for myself as leader: create a firm that earns a spot on the Best Companies To Work For list. Each state has one for its SMB employers, and if you get big enough, Fortune publishes its top 100 list for American companies each year.
Why bother? Google, Lexus, Deloitte, the others on the Top Employers’ lists: their personnel costs are through the roof! They pay more; they spend more on their benefits – much more! Who can afford that?
Who can afford not to compete for top talent? That’s my question!
I’m competitive. I like to test myself, and I really like to win. That’s one big reason I enjoy business so much. I’ll bet you do, too. That’s why you’re reading a blog post on improving your leadership edge, isn’t it?
So here’s the thing. If you’re building a team – business, sports; any kind of team – doesn’t it make sense to attract the best players? And how do you do that?
Here’s the surprise ending: I saved the best for last. You see, it turns out pay, benefits, and other “expenses” (a savvy leader would say “investments”) don’t tell the whole story. Just ask Daniel Pink, author of Drive. Sure, you have to invest enough in your people to make them relax about money, so they can concentrate on their work rather than their bills. But you know what people really want at work?
- People want meaning. They want to do work that matters. This may sound touchy-feely, but people want to know their work is going to make the world a better place in some significant way.
- People want autonomy. They want to be treated like adults. They want to know what their goal is, and then be given the latitude to accomplish it creatively. In other words, they want work to engage all of their brains, and in so doing, they want work to develop themselves – as problem-solvers and as people.
- People want camaraderie. They want belonging. The number one reason we look for new employers isn’t for better pay, it’s because we dislike our direct boss or because we haven’t connected adequately with our colleagues.
Not one of those three considerations need cost your company any more money than you currently spend! But please don’t be penny wise, pound foolish with your people. Money starts the conversation. Pay is a sign of an employer’s respect for her people. Skimp here, the game is over before it starts. Just ask Google.
…Then, ask Google why it chose “Don’t be evil” as its unofficial motto.
Are you ready for leadership in the 21st Century? Or are you already halfway out the door?