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Hiring and Keeping the Best People

January 1, 2006
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Expert advice on how to make your organization the proverbial "greener" pasture that staff seek by Leta Beam
BY LETA BEAM Hiring and keeping the best people
Create a talent plan to reenergize and refocus your crew
It seems as though we never stop talking about or focusing on shortages, and that's particularly true about staffing our facilities. Nursing shortages. CNA shortages. We've become resigned to the notion that these shortages are apparently perennial and will probably never go away. Could it be, though, that these shortages can be solved by questioning our everyday assumptions and trying a different approach?

No question about it: One of our most urgent business challenges is finding, cultivating, and keeping extraordinary talent. Sometimes we kid ourselves that "good people" don't exist. There are lots of good people out there, and they probably already have pretty good work experiences. It is our responsibility to clearly identify exactly who we are looking for and come up with more creative ways to find them. It's also up to us to establish a culture and an environment that distinguishes our organization from others so that we can attract those talented people and make them want to stay.

The question, then, is: How can we change our work culture to attract, grow, evaluate, reward, and retain the best in the business? If you think you've already heard more about culture change than you've wanted to hear, consider the following statistics about organizations in general:

  • The estimated cost of replacing one highly skilled employee is 200% of his/her salary.
  • People who leave their jobs usually do so to pursue professional development or vocational alternatives.
  • At any one time, more than 25% of an organization's valued employees intend to leave the organization. Nearly 25% more are undecided about leaving but are considering it.
  • While things such as satisfaction, a sense of connectedness to the group, the ability to balance life and work, and the opportunity to grow may seem "hokey" to a traditional business mind, the art and science of retention has shown us that they are critical factors to business success today.
  • When you look at Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For, you will notice that those companies are obsessed with their culture and environments. They work at culture change purposefully and are constantly evolving.

You can increase your ability to attract top talent by creating a talent plan, a comprehensive road map for attracting great people, growing them, and allowing them to create their own legacies within your organization. For most of us, creating a talent plan requires us to regain and redirect our energy and focus, and replace "same old, same old" habits in hiring and retention with a new set of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions.

Talent planning touches everyone at every level, from the board of directors/top administration on down, thus promoting a strong sense of "we." Everyone should share information with one another, and leaders should make themselves accessible. Keep in mind that talent planning is not a program, it is a mind-set. It is not a magic bullet, but rather an ongoing, lasting way of working that will take a year or longer to create.

At the heart of the successful talent plan is the vivid vision of creating leaders at all levels within the organization. That vision comes alive along two distinct but related tracks:

1. Assisting everyone (all staff) to grow their personal abilities to lead within their own area of expertise. It involves learning and unlearning, challenging autopilot thinking and acting, and getting rid of an overblown fear of regulations and surveys. Staff are introduced to the power of intentional thinking, get permission to develop and "own" solutions and, in the process, build self-esteem.

2. Assisting a smaller group of "influencers" (today's management team and those with potential for bigger roles) to lead in an even bigger, broader context. Your management team will not only want to grow their own personal abilities, but refine other skills, as well, including:

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