The previous CEO of Engro Corp, Asad Umer, did what most leaders should do – he directly interacted with the talent in his organization. He invited them over for special events in which he engaged them in conversations that were important for the company and took the opportunity to directly influence the opinion of his best people. This is something that every CEO should think of and practice. Who are my most important employees and how do I involve them more within my company? (For more, read The 100 Most Important People in Your Company)
Treating a specific group differently from others requires a tactful approach. You don’t want to engage your top 50 critical talent and at the same time alienate the rest. For many leaders this is the main reasons they hesitate from taking the necessary steps to differentiate talent.
Your most crucial (and with that I don’t mean your most senior) talent, are the people that will shape the future of the organization. They are the movers and shakers of the company and will be your biggest advocates, change agents and result drivers. They will convince, push and cajole the rest of the organization forward. They are your value creators.
From all our engagement research we know that in order to retain critical talent and motivate people to give their best you have to (1) create a sense of belonging, (2) ensure they understand, can give input and are aligned with the company strategy (3) are given challenging opportunities and have opportunities for growth, and last but not least are (4) remunerated and recognized in line with the value they bring to the organization.
So how do you do all of this whilst not upsetting the other 75% of the company who are also necessary to deliver your objectives? How can you discriminate whilst not alienating the rest? Try the following:
1. Be Transparent
First of all be transparent in identifying what makes an individual the ‘critical talent’. Performance, competencies, unique skills and contribution and the selection of critical talent should be recognized in a way that is transparent and clear to all. Don’t create a ‘secret inner club’ where membership and dealings are only known to the selected few and not to the rest of the organization.
2. Give everybody the opportunity
If you are clear on what makes someone a ‘critical talent’ then give everybody a chance to be part of it. Assess and develop people, give them opportunities to meet the criteria set to become critical talent and give everybody a shot at that elusive position. You never know when someone is willing to step up until you give them a chance to do so.
3. Differentiate and include
You should differentiate on the things that matter and be inclusive on everything else. Give top talent the most challenging assignments in the company, provide them with the most thought provoking learning opportunities, give them international exposure, include them in strategy sessions, expose them to senior management, give them long term based incentives and pay them better (as long as it is of course linked to better performance). At the same time ensure that all employees are given training opportunities, can apply for vacancies, are engaged through company wide communication events and stay involved in all kinds of company events. The biggest thing to remember is not to discriminate on benefits.
Getting the best from your most valued talent will be worth it, now and for future performance. But always make sure you don’t lose the best of the rest. Remember that each player contributes to the game as a whole.
What works for you, how do you differentiate and include at the same time?
– Paul Keijzer