Marc Cooper Shares 5 Ways To Win The Global Talent War
5 Ways To Win The Global Talent War
by CEO Marc S. Cooper
Winning the global talent war takes sustained focus and innovative approaches to ensure the workforce remains connected. This goes far beyond selectively showering top performers with fancy titles and financial incentives. It’s about cultivating a corporate culture where all employees feel their firm has a long-term, vested interest in their career, all while forwarding the strategic vision of the company. As we head into 2023, here are five workforce management priorities that I’m focused on and that have broad applications across all manners of industries.
Employee Engagement And Motivation
At the top of my list is keeping employees engaged and motivated. This isn’t some empty slogan. In my experience, employees want managerial and financial stability and a palpable sense that they are valued and looked after. Smart managers view their top talent as a long-term investment and a vital part of a company’s future prosperity. On the other side of the ledger, ambitious executives want to have a clear vision of their career path.
Trouble arises when the interests of rising stars and veterans become misaligned with those of the company, either from poor communication, managerial neglect or unrealistic expectations. That’s why robust training programs, career pathing and candid performance reviews are essential. This won’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of intentional management by corporate leaders.
Pay And Performance Transparency
When it comes to pay and performance transparency, employees must believe that their company is a true meritocracy, where compensation is inextricably linked to deliverables and performance. The workforce needs a clear understanding of expectations.
Also, the performance feedback can’t be just top-down. At Solomon Partners, the New York investment bank that I manage, we use a 360 feedback review process, where colleagues—including our senior leadership—are evaluated by people more junior as well as more senior.
A third priority is creating a work environment that employees appreciate. If you’re competing for talent worldwide, having a toxic, blame-game work culture is a recipe for disaster. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s this: Many employees are no longer willing to have their jobs be the all-consuming focus of their lives. Nobody knows for sure, but I doubt the hybrid work models sweeping across the corporate world will turn out to be a passing fad.
Connecting And Communicating
Having said that, business leaders face new challenges when it comes to connecting and communicating in a more decentralized workplace. It’s easy for employees, especially those new to the workforce, to feel disconnected or alienated from a company’s core principles and strategy.
That’s why weekly firmwide meetings, quarterly town halls, skip-level management meetings, lunches with junior staff, group events, and annual summer and winter outings are critical tools that I use in this new era.
Unfortunately, at this point in the U.S. business cycle, mass layoffs in the technology and financial fields are happening with increasing frequency. So let me finish with some thoughts on my final priority: managing the workforce.
Workforce management is about making decisive choices. A significant portion of time must be spent cultivating and managing individuals up through the ranks. Although having said that, we also need to spend time thoughtfully managing out those, that for whatever reason, are no longer a good fit. By helping individuals transition into a role elsewhere, companies are candidly doing them a favor. In fact, these employees deserve that honest feedback and the opportunity to thrive in another role.
During the flush economic times, there’s a tendency to kick the can down the road and keep underperformers, or those that are not the best fit, in place. When times get tough, these tendencies come back to bite companies, who now may need to quickly slash their workforces, often losing valuable contributors in the process.
That’s lazy management in my view. Effective managers know their individual team members well enough to make smart, targeted headcount adjustments that further individual employee career paths, while simultaneously advancing the strategic agenda of the company. Most crucially, this kind of thoughtful talent management should be happening all the time, regardless of the vagaries of the business cycle.
So, yes, a global talent war is raging, and probably will for some time. Yet that doesn’t mean misleading employees who no longer have a realistic shot of advancing. Smart and strategic headcount reductions and treating departing employees fairly and with dignity is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also critical to the long-term reputation and success of your company.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.