Time-poor leaders and managers do need to have systems in place in order to play an effective role in talent management and retention. At Russell HR, for example, there is a development plan for each member of the team which is structured to allow for detailed technical learning as well as informal weekly tool box talks, lunchtime learning, and a variety of experiential on and off job learning. “The bar rises with each achievement and the mix of formal and informal development keeps the team keen,” says Russell.
Staff incentives can be effective retention tools. However, leadership time given as a reward can be a more valuable investment than the money spent on traditional monetary or gift related rewards.
That has certainly been the case for recruitment firm Your World Healthcare, which recently changed its employee rewards strategy. Director Greg Wood said: “In our month-end awards, the nominated employee received vouchers. Now they are taken out for lunch by our managing director, who is able to mentor, support and build up the personal relationship. We believe that an hour spent with the business leader is far more valuable than a £100 gift voucher."
Nevertheless, most leaders will maintain that time is their scarcest resource, and that they simply don’t have enough of it to devote to developing talent. However, Simon Cooper, partner at The Chemistry Group, argues that if they are sincere in valuing their people as their most important asset, then that is where their time should be spent. He says: “We recently worked with a leading insurer and discovered that their leaders and managers spent only 4% of their time on their people. In fact, that is very common among the organisations we work with. The reason, according to managers, is not enough time.
“We helped them firstly to believe that there is enough time. If you start every day by deciding to spend more time on talent, measuring how you spend your time and constantly being asked by your boss and peers if you spent enough time on it; believe me, you will. After six months, managers were spending over 26% of their time on selecting, developing and supporting their people.”
The effect on the workforce was profound; 88% of employees reported seeing a significant shift in the leadership style of their manager, which ultimately turned into an impact on their customers, with the Net Promoter Score, a measure of customer loyalty, increasing by 30%. “If you believe that people are your organisation's most important asset, then act like it," adds Cooper.
Kate Russell added: “If you have found it hard to recruit and retain good people – and I’d be very surprised if you haven’t – it’s essential to take the personal time to manage and develop your talent. It should be your number one workplace New Year’s resolution."