Over the course of my career, I have had the pleasure of having 2-3 older friends that happen to be Baby Boomers that have remained interested in helping me grow professionally to this date. It dawned on me in my late 20’s the level of sincerity and genuine nature of their dedication to helping me. When I realized what they were doing and the level of impact that this cross-generational mentoring was having in my personal and work life, I made a commitment to myself that I would “pay it forward” and be on the lookout to become a mentor to others. I love a couple of quotes I recently read in The Daily Walk Bible – “Life is a lot like tennis – the goal is to learn to serve better” and “The object of teaching is to enable those taught to get along without a teacher”.
Let’s face it – hiring a new team member can be an exhausting process. Spending time sorting through candidates to identify real talent vs “half-hearted” talent is a tough process. Many have been in the situation when we have had to “settle” on a slightly-less-than-desired candidate due to time pressures or lack of solid candidates. So there is never a guarantee that you will not end up getting burned after hiring a new employee.
As leaders we should always make it a priority to keep quality talent along the journey. But sometimes, for various reasons, good employees quit and if you are not paying attention these situations can surprise you and can leave you in a pinch. If you are aware of a few warning signs, you can spot the employees that are considering a departure before they have made up their minds.
You may also want to check out an upcoming AgCareers.com workshop centered on Leadership Enhancement in order to distinguish how to keep good employees around.
Employees have personal lives too and leaders should never forget that fact. If something happens in one aspect of their lives, chances are that it’s going to affect another aspect of their life. For example, if an employee is going through a nasty divorce, lost a loved one recently, or is suffering from a health issue, these events will often cause one to rethink priorities which could result in evaluating career options. Usually effective leaders can spot this change within employees on a real personal level with their staff. Asking them how they are doing and showing genuine empathy with them in times of need will go a long way!
As the Millennials now enter their mid-20’s and 30’s, it’s time we begin to shift some focus towards the new generation that is just beginning to graduate college and enter the workforce – Generation Z, those that were born between 1995-2010. As I began to prepare this blog I suddenly realized that my wife Sharon and I have three of this generation in our household (two sons and a daughter); well, one now a freshman in college. So here’s my disclaimer – I’m preparing this based on my experiences not only with my own children but also observations of all their friends and a bit of research.
Generation Z could also be called the world’s first “Digital Natives” – meaning these human beings cannot recall a time without technology and particularly social media, of which no doubt has had a huge impact on their world view and has shaped how they accomplish key life tasks! Twitter is the avenue my 19-year-old son used to find his roommate at VTU. While many Gen Z’ers have a Facebook account and occasionally stalk others, they much prefer Twitter and even more so Snapchat. It’s taken me a while to understand Snapchat and I don’t even have an account. I find it interesting that I will catch my kids taking a Snapchat (nonchalantly) with me in the pic with them; sometimes while I’m driving. It took me a while to realize that is their way of sharing with their friends that they are with mom or dad. Z’ers are very intrigued with short communication and pics that represent their activity or events for the day…and they love emojis!
• Is the team or individual reasonably happy and motivated? If not, some issues may need attention before attempting to invest and reward employees.
• Assuming the team or individual is happy and motivated, as leaders, we should seek ways to “light fires within people.” Along this path, leaders need to explore ways to continuously invest in and reward talent for retention purposes.
• Notice the image above. The red fire suggests leading by fear or threats, while the blue fire suggests a more inspiring approach – of which I prefer. Don’t get me wrong, there are occasions where certain people need “a fire lit under them.”
Early in my career, during the mid-90’s I was in a role that allowed me to help an organization grow very rapidly. My responsibilities included both talent acquisition and helping develop and deliver leadership training programs. It was very rewarding to not only help recruit top talent to a growing company, but to be a part of helping them grow professionally with respect to their leadership skills.
The ownership of the organization would routinely review our training content to ensure alignment to the mission and vision of the company. During one such point, an executive the family had hired requested our training team incorporate some content around “accountability”. Following some research, our team adopted the content and principles within the book The Oz Principle by Roger Conners, Craig Hickman, and Tom Smith. This book focuses on how personal accountability is the critical path/journey to organizational accountability. I cannot go into much detail, but during the mid-90’s, while incorporating The Oz Principle into our training programs, I experienced a work-related challenge that was very painful for me personally and professionally. Basically, I was very deflated and unimpressed by a hiring decision that ownership had made. Initially for several months, everyone knew how I felt about this decision; not only my co-workers but my friends and family. Looking back, I’m not very proud of my actions and attitude during that time. In fact, it almost cost me my job! But, fortunately and thanks to some very concerned team members, I was able to apply the principles outlined within The Oz Principle and “rise above my circumstances” while learning and growing from the experience. I’ve told many people, I’m a much more successful professional and leader today as a result of this experience.
As leaders, it’s easy to get into the busy season of life and work and potentially lose sight of your surroundings. But remember that the most valuable assets of a business are its people. Leadership should always keep a keen awareness of how top talent members are being challenged, motivated, and rewarded for their work.
But if you find yourself thinking that everything is fine, you may be blindsided if you are not aware of these potential signs your employees are job searching.
There are several factors that cause talent to become disengaged. Some examples might be a poor relationship with their boss, a lack of responsibility, a lack of recognition, inadequate support or training and a lack of achievement. If monitored on a routine basis, a manager can respond to the motivating factors proactively when they appear. However, if any of these factors go ignored for long periods of time, key talent will begin exploring other career options and before you know it, you will be blindsided with a letter of resignation. More than likely if you discover a member of your team is engaging in 1 or more of the following activities, it’s likely too late to do anything about it, but you can try.
Now that we are in the first few days of 2016, the AgCareers.com team is rolling our sleeves up for another busy and productive year! I’m very proud of our team at AgCareers.com and the passion/dedication that each member exhibits towards helping our business be successful year after year. I should also take time and thank our business partners at Farms.com and especially the VL Interactive Team. We rely heavily on their expertise in technology development, but also strategic areas such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Site Content positioning and marketing. Below is a list of exciting projects and plans that will keep us busy at AgCareers.com in 2016:
• Advisory Board: Last August, we formed an Advisory Board at AgCareers.com, consisting of 13 members beyond our staff. This advisory board has been established for 2 main purposes: 1.) To join us in closely monitoring e-Recruitment trends and 2.) For our team to bounce ideas for new products and services as we plan ahead for our future. The advisory board will be meeting Jan 12-13 in Saint Louis.
• New Projects for 2016: Elite Talent This new community should be released near the end of Q1 or early Q2. Below explains how the respective employer and talent member groups will be served via this new exciting service.
Over the past 25 years I have had the privilege to be a part of helping grow 2 very successful organizations – my initial employer Murphy Farms, Inc. (now known as Smithfield Live Production) and AgCareers.com. “Attracting Top Talent” is a skill and strategy I’ve learned and remind myself that I must never become complacent or be taken for granted. Equally important to “Attracting Top Talent” is “creating an environment for development and success”, but I would like to share 5 tips to consider when you are considering adding to your team.
1. Hire Higher! People that come in contact with your staff notice the level of your talent – customers, vendors, etc. I’ve learned over the years that quality talent desires to be a part of a winning team. Quality talent will attract top talent. Open positions create an opportunity to add talent/skills that does not exist with the team or organization. Settling for a “warm body” is very short-sighted and will likely cost you $$!
The Christmas and New Year’s Holidays can be a great time for employers to sow seeds for spring harvest. Consider this – employee referrals consistently rank in the top 3 as effective sources of recruiting talent (might include link here to our HR Review). Senior Leadership within organizations should keep this in mind as Q4 comes to an end and do all they can to help their top talent end the calendar year motivated and in a positive frame of mind. Give your top talent something to talk about over the Holidays – especially if the organization plans to recruit new talent in the coming months. Below are a few ideas for business leaders to consider in exceeding staffs’ expectations:
It’s probably safe to say that traditional employee benefits such as retirement plans, healthcare/insurance, and vacation/holiday time have evolved to “expectations” – meaning that all prospective employees today expect standard benefit offerings. If you are an employer and you have competitive standard benefits, chances are you are always on the lookout for potential employee “perks” that could enhance your employer brand and employee loyalty. Below are some popular employee perks that are receiving high marks by talent today.