Culture Change 101: Hit Leaders In Their Wallets

You may have noticed by now that I believe so strongly in leadership and talent management that leaders should have their compensation tied to doing it well. Every initiative that has worked or been supported in the organizations where I have worked was because it was tied to compensation or bonus percentage payouts. Hitting leaders in their wallet is sometimes the only way to change a tough organizational culture for the better.

Talent management is not hiring the best and brightest and expecting that because they are so talented that they will just figure it out. It is not allowing someone to fail at a meeting a leader’s expectations because the leader was too busy to share what those expectations are upfront. Talent management is not letting an employee feel isolated because the rest of the team speaks a language that no one shares with the new employee. Truly talented people have options.

And those options when exercised see those talented people depart your organization. Not for more money, but for greater appreciation of their talent. They leave for greater “civility and respect” from another employer. The cost it takes to make this realization and drive this truth through the organization is far less than the money flying out of the revolving door of hiring and losing people.

I’m not saying this model will preclude a company from ever having to hire talent from the outside, because the business is going to change over time and that might be required. But continuing to hire from the outside while never taking time to assess their internal talent management resources, creates an environment where Gen Xers in the organization believe they don’t have any future with the organization, and they start looking elsewhere.

And it’s happening in most companies. When you ask CEOs “What are their organizations suffering from?” The issues of poor talent management and lack of leadership bench strength are among the most frequently mentioned issues. As organizations continue to get flatter and try to do more with less, they expect their HR professionals to handle all aspects of the culture change.

Talent management when done right is a true strategic resource function owned by the lines of business, in the language of the business. For this very reason, in my opinion, it should not be considered solely an HR responsibility. It’s truly analogous to supply chain management. Figuratively, if you had to look at an X-ray of an organization, what’s the one part that would connect to everything and hold it all together? What connects the divisions, to the departments, to the mission, to the vision of the organization? It’s the backbone. And in this analogy, that backbone is made up of the people of the organization.

Why aren’t executives more focused on ensuring that there is an integrated, cohesive effort to attract, engage, and retain what connects every part of the business and thus sustains the organization’s existence? Simply put, they are stuck in the middle between saying that “our people are our most important asset” and acting like it. And, because no one yet has come looking for their wallets.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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