Leadership Skill to Keep Talented Employees

In a recent survey by the Center for Creative Leadership, respondents placed talent acquisition/development at the top of the list of the primary challenges their organization is facing. Sixty-five percent of those leaders surveyed predict a major talent crisis over the next five years.

The survey results highlight the need for organizations to adopt new strategies and implement fundamental cultural changes to help address the looming talent crisis.

One effective method is to develop a coaching culture to cultivate, retain and grow existing talent.

Long-term, single-company loyalty and tenure are increasingly rare. Today’s most talented employees want (and need) an environment that supports and challenges them to grow and develop. Changing how we lead is an important part of this answer.

The days of being able to lead successfully with a top-down autocratic “edict” are gone. High performers in today’s work force simply won’t put up with it.

While changing an organization’s culture is never easy, it can be done. Success requires senior level sponsorship, significant resource deployment and organizationwide training (coaching skills are not innate).

A method to inspire, retain and develop today’s work force is introducing or expanding an organizationwide coaching culture. Coaching, by its nature, supports collaboration and continuous improvement. The focus of coaching is on changing behaviors for systemic impact on the success of the entire organization. Again, we can draw from a sports analogy — if only the defensive squad plays well (and not the offense or special teams), rarely will the team win. Likewise in organizations, the entire system has to work together to achieve its goals to be successful. Internal departments in companies are intricately interdependent on each other. Today’s cutting-edge managers understand that an effective coaching culture is ultimately determined by the collective performance of all of the parts.

Shifting an organization from a traditional “management down” culture to a collaborative, coaching culture can be difficult. Challenges often encountered include:

  • Individual personalities (i.e., defensiveness or “I only know how to ‘boss’ “).
  • Natural resistance to change (old dogs resisting new tricks).
  • Internal politics and history.
  • Lack of required senior level commitment and effective “sponsorship.”

A successful coaching culture needs to include:

  • Senior level sponsorship (those with the power to sanction change). This sponsorship will include providing clear vision, goals, objectives and expectations.
  • Effective feedback systems (measurement against benchmarks, providing accountability, acknowledgement and rewards).
  • Training programs to develop the coaching skills of internal managers and leaders.
  • An environment that rewards taking reasonable risks, including trying new behaviors and developing skills.

Remember, a shift to a coaching culture does not mean that leaders relinquish authority, responsibility or ultimate accountability. In contrast, a truly effective coaching culture is defined by (and is generally a result of) top management leadership managing through collaboration and effective coaching techniques.

Effective coaching has been identified as a core competency for today’s managers.

Today’s successful organizations understand the value and potential of this leadership style and continue to expand their own coaching programs and skills.

Senior leaders in organizations making cultural shifts can get help from a number of resources: trainings, seminars, and external professional resources. These provide expertise in managing change (including what it takes to be an effective sponsor) and proven tools to build or strengthen existing coaching skills within the organization.

I coach clients anywhere in the world via Skype.  I can help you find, keep and grow talent for your business.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com  You don’t have to do it alone.