In times like now, that’s the last thing you will want – losing your top talents. While those who have taken recourse to stay put with their mediocrity are clinging to their roles and delivering somehow to keep their jobs intact, the hi-pots are seeing opportunity in the transforming business landscape to find more challenging roles, with high centrality and opportunity of personal growth. They seemed to have lived it enough in their current roles, got jaded and disillusioned with the cold delivery-led environment and are looking for something more meaningful, more fulfilling. When they are asked in their exit interview their reason for quitting, the most common answer is better opportunity. Is this however the true reason? Or is there another deeper reality that is causing your top talents to leave the organization?
In course of my engagement with several organizations over close to two decades now, enabling leadership for about ten thousand individuals, I have been, as a part of the pre-enablement study, carrying out sensing and discovery exercises with related stakeholders across the organization. I have, time and again, interviewed reports to understand what has been their experience of being led and what is it doing to them. Not surprisingly, close to two thirds of those interviewed, top talents and otherwise, have expressed not being motivated enough in their jobs. They feel a sort of monotony having set in doing the same thing, the same way, day in and day out. Most importantly, they find the environment a little too plastic and shorn of life, an environment that does not allow the freedom to learn and grow in the direction of their strengths. They are not sure if they are being led the right way with the managers handing out tasks, the impact of which is little known to the reports, hardly engaging as individuals, telling them what to do in times of crisis as short-term fixes and carrying out seemingly unfair appraisals. They don’t feel heard, empathized and understood. Neither do they see themselves as involved and inspired in co-creating value. Fear of being admonished and held to task looms large as they receive feedback which most often is harsh and prescriptive. And finally, without anyone to guide and nurture, they feel unsure about the direction in which they are going, as far as their career is concerned.
What the reports are really asking of their managers is for them to:
- Engage in meaningful conversations as individuals, with an heart-set of spontaneous involvement leading to some productive outcome
- Enroll employees to the big picture and helping them to align their goals to the same
- Empower their reports to find their own solutions by empathizing and inquiring right and
- Enable them to find their talents, develop them into strength and leverage these potentials to contribute joyfully in an appreciative and rewarding environment.
So are the managers not equipped with necessary skills to address their needs? I doubt. It is more a question of their will than skill. Most of them prefer to have a directional style of managing than developmental. And for these managers, it is not an easy transition – to move from being directional to being supportive; from being task focused to being people focused; from being delivery centric to being development centric. They need to balance their delivery responsibilities with their developmental roles, deal with their anxieties and simultaneously walk by the side of their team members as a coach.
In order to retain the hi-pots, create sustained customer delight and consistently enhance the cumulative worth of the talents, managers in today’s context need to be enabled themselves to deal with their vulnerabilities and make a heart-set shift to simultaneously focus on nurturing and growth of their employees while driving hard the teams’ performance. It’s time they are enabled to bring together the yin and yang of their roles.