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“People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world . . .”
This is the beginning of a popular song from the 1964 Broadway musical “FUNNY GIRL” with Barbra Streisand. It was Barbra’s first top 40 song. Interesting trivia but what does this have to do with us today?
We ALL need people, we work hard recruiting and trying new and different ways to engage them and keep them at our businesses. The national unemployment rate is at the lowest in 49 years at 3.7 percent! There are more jobs available than people needing jobs. Where does that leave us? The collective us. Companies that need people to keep our brand promise and deliver to our customers?
There is a great opportunity amidst this obstacle of needing people. We all have the opportunity to get creative. Press the pause button and look at new and different ways to attract & retain the talent we need. Yes, “WE” need people, so that makes us lucky, right?
There are more conferences, articles and books available to help us look at what is happening and learn what is and is not working. There is also an unbalanced approach of collecting data and not enough energy in acknowledging the humanity quotient. I love data. I am a fact finder by nature and can get completely geeked out hearing statistics and new ways of measuring engagement, attraction and productivity. Everything connects eventually and we can all look at data to prove each theory but where does data leave the people? Numbers don’t lie – this is a statement I have heard for years but the problem with waiting for the numbers to tell the story, is we are looking in the rearview mirror and must react to something that has already happened. It is in the past. We must find a proactive way to fix the issue before the problem becomes a crisis.
So what can we do, what is working and how long will the current talent wars last? Focus on the people first! Focus on the people second and focus on the people third.
We must find a proactive way to fix the issue before the problem becomes a crisis
Track the data along the way, have conversations and make changes to adjust the process to achieve the desired results.
The first and most important focus to look at is your culture. The culture of your business is what either attracts people to want to work for you or repels them. Take time to look at the environment that your team members work in everyday, all day. Many times, as leaders, we have the tendency to believe that we know all about our culture rather than looking at reality. Ask questions of those that are new is important. But talking to long-term employees as to why they stay with your business is the more important question. Once you ask the question, listen graciously. Listen to what they are saying with their words but also pay attention to their body language and what lights them up about being at your business. Be brave and ask them would they refer someone else to come work at your business. You may be pleased by the answer or you may learn something you didn’t know. Either way it is raw material to maximize what already exists and to be creative in areas not working well.
Second focus is about delivering on expectations; employees and yours. Obtain this result through communication and training. Communication starts with the hiring interview, this is when you explain the expectations for the results of the position and the candidate expresses their expectations and shares what is important to them. We all know that any good partnership is a two-sided conversation, employment should fit that model.
The conversation about expectations continues through onboarding and ongoing training. Onboarding has taken on a stronger intentionality recently and there are new products (software and apps) that help manage the process. The employees will know what is expected of them from the beginning. Training shows them how to achieve success they desire. When people achieve success their confidence grows, which creates great energy that becomes contagious. People want to be part of that kind of energy (so do customers).
The third and final focus, but definitely not the least important, is taking time to celebrate. Show your gratitude; catch them doing something right and take time to celebrate successes. One of the ways we do this is to take time for team members to share what is going well in their lives. Giving people time to share about themselves creates community, which is something everyone craves to have in their lives.
Data and numbers are important but we can’t have a business without people. Changing the direction of our focus to be more about taking care of our people attracts more and better people to create a culture of caring that they want to be part of and make better. We really are the lucky ones. We are in the position that business is good and we need people. Talk with them, listen to them and be grateful for them. It will make a difference on your retention and your engagement of the people on your team.
I do believe we are lucky. We are lucky to have the opportunity to create value for our customer and our employee. When the pieces of the puzzle come together it creates a synergy the benefits everyone.