Without free food and foosball to attract... or distract...
Ready or not, the world has changed. And over time it will reset...but never quite return to what was. Rules have changed. Competition for talent will be global. Fancy office spaces not-so-relevant. New ways of working will need to emerge. And we are finally sowing the oats of bringing our whole selves to work. Because all of who we are - professionals, spouses, parents, children, citizens of a community or faith - have all come crashing together. And there is no turning back.
Just retrofitting everything to Zoom is soul-crushing. This is a reckoning. We need to redefine the experience of working.
So how can leadership today be thinking about building the Talent EXperience of tomorrow (t.EX.t)? One that delivers results that delight talent, shareholders, and customers?
The answers will not come from the top. But from every side, corner, and cranny. Ask. Listen. Experiment. Some thought-starters below may help you kick this off.
Purpose. Every level. Every day.
Purpose has always mattered. But telling stories about how your product or service will save lives / democratize education / deliver rainbows and unicorns to all...and then having frontline staff wade through broken processes and complex spreadsheets just won't cut it. Every day, every person on your team needs a why. Why this process? How's it serving a greater purpose? Help them see that unmistakable connection between the thing they do and the outcome you strive for. And if you can't find it... rip that process out!
Every day, every person on your team needs a why.
Connection. That nourishes without depleting.
As distance between teams and people grows, so too does the need for connection. And connection does not come from mandatory "Zappy" hours. It comes through real touchpoints. Hearing and being heard. Through knowing where to find what/who you need on any given day. Real connection is trust in your leader and team. Authenticity in how you communicate. And it's knowing you don't have to show up on Zoom that day if your energy tells you otherwise. Invite your team to define what true connection means for them - modes, times, messages, etc. Don't assume video drives personalization. Ask.
Simply put, talent is seeking opportunity for contribution. Purpose is a powerful driver. But if it's followed by leadership handing down a plan for execution, then there is no shared ownership of that purpose. The "how" of what you're delivering must be defined by everyone doing the delivering.
The path forward is wholly uncertain. No one knows where we're headed. All the experience in the world doesn't make any leader the smartest person in the virtual room. You need your team now more than ever - their questions, ideas, observations. So how will you create the space - the connection - through which they can offer those up? The best answers will be amalgams of the outputs of many voices. So listen up.
The best answers will be amalgams of the outputs of many voices.
Boundability (Flexibility + Boundaries)
Flexible, remote work is here to stay. But burnout is on the rise. Talent of tomorrow will command a blend of both. Working where they want, when they want - but with permission to set boundaries and confidence they will be honored. How will you help your teams think through defining what they need - in order to deliver meaningful work while managing their own needs?
Momentum is what fuels us all. Success begets success. So how will you help your talent grow as we feel our way through this new normal?
Customization and commitment. Too often we default to assume all aspire to promotion. But growth comes in many forms. So use that connection to understand what drives your talent. And maintain a commitment to enabling their growth.
For some it may be grooming for promotion. But others will want to broaden or expand their skills. Some may want opportunities for external brand-building and still others will seek project leadership. And what about side gigs? Let's be honest. As the gig economy grows and job security remains shaky... how can you support members of your team in growing in a new direction? One that allows all parties a bit of flexibility and breathing room?
Will the above provide you a clean and simple roadmap to delivering on that t.EX.t of tomorrow? Maybe not. But I sure hope it gets you started.
Related: Make Connecting Your Top Priority