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Motivating Top Talent

February 10 2009 - Two recent reports offer guidance on motivating and developing talented employees in the current global economic downturn.

Motivating And Retaining Top Talent

A report from OnPoint Consulting identifies strategies for motivating and retaining top talent in the current economic climate when the emphasis on bonus payments is no longer possible or appropriate. Previous research has found that earnings and benefits have a 2 per cent impact on job satisfaction and engagement compared to 70 per cent provided by job quality and workplace support.

The report suggests the following survival strategies:

  • Create a sense of purpose - Engagement and retention improves when people understand how they connect to the "Big Picture" and how they make a difference.
  • Provide meaningful work - Allowing people to do what they do best and make a significant contribution is key to engagement and retention.
  • Solicit ideas - Involvement in decisions gives people a sense of control in uncertain times, shows them their opinions matter, and improves decision acceptance.
  • Let people know where they stand - Setting tough but realistic goals is motivating even in a tough environment.
  • Enhance trust and communication - Trust is built when leaders improve credibility by being candid, demonstrate reliability by ensuring their actions are consistent with business objectives and values, and and are accessible.

Rick Lepsinger, president of OnPoint Consulting commented:

"Feeling connected to the people you work with also helps create a sense of purpose.... Providing opportunities to learn and grow is icing on the cake.... Clear goals are only part of the equation. People need regular feedback so they know when they are on track and recognition when they achieve key milestones....The more people feel you are focused on them, rather than on yourself, the more they trust you."

Employee Goals and Talent Development

A report from SumTotal® Systems Inc., a global provider of talent development solutions, argues that implementing effective, universally-accepted goal setting for employees, coupled with a system for managing and tracking these processes can enable HR managers to make a significant contribution to improved organizational performance.

Richard Oyen, director of HR and talent development said:

"With the current economic forecast, it is now more important than ever to make sure employees' goals reflect the organization's overall goals to ensure everyone is working toward the same mission. By helping to set organizational alignment, HR departments have the ability to impact their company like never before and create significant productivity improvements."

The report offers the following guidelines for the involvement of HR in employee goal setting:

  1. Know the goals - HR should be involved when senior managers plan annual goals to be aware of underlying issues and challenges.
  2. Get buy-in - The executive team should support HR's efforts to align goals and help communicate the importance of the program.
  3. Cascade goals - Once goals are set at the top of the organization, they should work their way down to all employees.
  4. Ensure consistency - As goals are established further down the organization, HR can assist by creating standards and monitoring consistency.
  5. Hold everyone accountable - Managers should ensure goals are measurable with specific deadlines and then hold employees accountable.
  6. Reinforce through development - Ensure that employees have skills and tools to achieve established goals using development plans monitored by HR.
  7. Work the gaps - Managers can work with employees individually. HR should identify gaps in organizational provision and address issues proactively with the Learning team.
  8. Encourage year-long communication - Initial goals may be agreed but paid no further attention. Sending reminders to update goals is one way for HR to encourage a culture of frequent manager/employee communication.
  9. Monitor compliance - Managers should monitor progress and completion of employee goals HR should review overall process and report to executives and department heads.
  10. Measure twice, cut once - Goals should be a major component of a company's annual performance appraisal where employees are measured and held accountable.

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