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Nurture your talent

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This article about making room for talent reminded me of a beautiful garden I visited a few years ago. The Tulip Festival is an opportunity for Pashley Manor, on the Kent/East Sussex border, to show off their 20,000 tulips at this time of year. It is an impressive sight and well worth a visit if you enjoy gardens.

One of the things that struck me about the garden is how in the beds of colour co-ordinated tulips there is often one lone tulip of a different variety which really stands out. I've also noticed the same thing in municipal plantings - on roundabouts, for instance. It seems to show up more with tulips than with other types of plants.

A report that a third of people looking for new jobs in 2014 cites salary dissatisfaction and the lure of better conditions elsewhere as the principal reason for wanting to move, but whilst that is no doubt true for some, other people are focussing on what they want from and how they can get more personal satisfaction in their working life. That 1970s concept of the psychological contract between an employee and his/her employer comes into play, recognises that the balance is shifting, as it always does when the economy goes from boom to bust or the reverse.

It's a good reminder to consider who stands out in your flower bed. Like the lone tulip of a different variety, there will be people who stand out in your business or your team. Maybe they stick out like the proverbial 'sore thumb' for the discomfort they bring to you or others, or more likely it's because they contribute something different that you value - a positive attitude, a willingness to speak up, a different experience or skill or refreshing ideas.

So, continuing with the metaphor, who are the lone tulips in your team? Focusing on those who make a positive contribution, what are you doing to make the most of the difference that they bring to retain them for the future of your business? They will be the ones who find it easiest to move on, at significant cost to you and your organisation. Providing them with the right environment - the equivalent of soil, light and water - would help them flourish and remind them of the benefits of remaining with your organisation. 

Here are some suggestions for a proactive approach to retaining your best people, many of which involve little or no investment:

  • Start a dialogue with them.
  • Give them feedback about the skills and attributes you appreciate most in them and help them to understand where their strengths lie.
  • Find out what their career goals and aspirations are.
  • Assess how they fit with your own needs and future business strategy.
  • Agree a realistic plan of action which you can review with them on a regular basis as part of your feedback process.
  • Offer them support to achieve or identify their goals. This could involve giving them new experience or opportunities, encouraging feedback from others (formally or informally) or providing other development opportunities like a secondment or job swap.
  • Encourage them to identify and meet with a role model or mentor who is in the type of job they aspire to and find out what is their recipe for success.
  • If you are willing to invest in them, consider coaching as a way of building their capabilities. Where would our best sportsmen and women be without their coaches?

A flourishing business is one which provides its customers with what they want and to do that having the right people in place to deliver is essential.

These activities work for everyone. We can't all be the lone tulip - and indeed many of us don't want to be. But we can all be happy and successful in our work with the right environment and support. And that doesn't always mean more money.

There are huge benefits to be reaped whatever business you are in.


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