A few words about talent retention

TalentsI first titled this post ‘Is it possible to keep the talents in your company?’
But there is no real point there:

  1. They will ultimately leave anyway.
  2. It is not good to want them to stay with you forever.

So what? Should we even bother and care? Of course we should, with a lucid and realistic mind.

Every manager, whatever his/her position, is a Talent Manager. I just gave a series of trainings on the topic.
There is no justifiable reason not invest in talents. You probably saw or heard this before: “Q: what if we train them and they leave? A: what if we don’t and they stay?”
While leading a team, you need to coach and develop your collaborators. It is a no-brainer. You need to spot the ones who are going to provide you with a good Return On Investment when you push them forward and upward.

Then they will become key in your organization… And soon you will start dreading their departure, because that would plug a hole in your fine-tuned organization.

You know what? It’s ok if they leave someday, as long as the cooperation has been good, i.e. efficient and win-win. I agree with Sting when he sings “if you love somebody set them free” … It starts getting sour as soon as you become deaf to their expressed desires to see other things. I can perfectly understand that you might want to keep your ‘favorite ones’ next to you as long as possible. I also know it’s a very selfish and ultimately unproductive approach.

If they are good, there is very little chance that you only would know this. They will draw the attention of your competitors and of some head-hunters. Your colleagues managing other business units or departments in your group will know it too, and might try to attract them as well.

But more importantly, if they are good, they should know it, and you should be the one to tell them. How couldn’t it be? You do not want to have a relationship with your best talent based on not telling the truth…

Work is turning increasingly into a project-based activity. This is why there are so many discussions, even in my home country, about flexible work contracts, about co-operation and community management vs hierarchic management.
When we hire somebody, the reason is that we need them to work with us on something specific. Yet, we can’t ensure the need they directly address is ever-lasting. Of course if you recruit smartly, you over-calibrate, so you can expect your collaborators to be solutions to not-yet-arisen issues, and you can always count on them to create their future jobs within your department or company. But you really cannot know that you will need them forever. So please stop thinking about them with a stiff mindset…

Your collaborators are more like your kids than like your life-partners… You need to give them all you can and enjoy their presence while you can.

For Aneta, Christophe, Laura & Sabrina: talking with each of you over the last days helped clarifying my position

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