I’ll bet you can name the first two great lies without any effort. The third one remains unnamed because nobody is willing to admit to it. Well, here we go: American Business is Great at Managing Talent!!! Yes, that’s the biggest lie possible. I’d sooner believe that then check is in the mail or you gave at the office, any day.
If we’re so good at talent management, why is more than 70% of the workforce not engaged? Why are Millennials jumping ship for alternative careers and start-ups at record pace? Why? I’ll tell you what we are good at: spending money on talent programs that heave little real impact, taking credit for success, not motivating or rewarding people and burning them out only to fire them when the economy weakens.
The irony is that properly engaging the workforce would cost far less than we’re spending today. In fact, it would add big time to the bottom line. It really just takes two steps, if they are properly executed: (1) getting real management commitment, and (2) teaching managers how to manage and develop their people. Whenever I’m asked about where to get started in developing leaders, growing talent and shaping culture, I always point to these two things. Fancy processes and expensive technology can come later. In fact, more often than not performance management is a demotivator that drives employees to meet personal metrics where important project work is actually done in teams, not by individuals.
One good friend of mine described this result as “…what you get when Finance gets to manage people. What gets measured is what can be measured easily, not what should be measured. We talk big data and kill people with little data!”
Are we ready to meet this challenge? If you remember any of this blog piece, let it be this: engagement is a people issue. It needs to be solved by people, not technology. Let’s stop telling the lie and start talking the straight talk and walking the path of leadership commitment and manager development, beginning with listening to our people. It’s our secret weapon of the 21st Century. Is anybody listening?