Experience has taught us much over the last few years about the power of people as a competitive advantage and the rise of socially conscious brands. In some ways the recession has been good for us. Let’s face it. For at least a decade, perhaps longer, disingenuous leaders and brands were able to grow leaps and bounds on the economic strength of our country – regardless of their values or vision for the people or communities they served.

And at the heart of these matters, are people. In fact, the phrase “war for talent” started way back in 1997 with the McKinsey Global Survey and later a book by the same name. This survey indicated, in 1997 mind you, that the biggest challenge looming for the 10,000 respondents was finding, motivating and retaining capable workers. Ten years later, in 2007, with over 1300 executives surveyed, again more than 50% stated that they expected intensifying competition for talent – and the increasingly global nature of that competition to have a major effect on their companies. No other trend was considered as significant. So why was there no change in ten years? The concurrent factor, during this time frame, that may have attributed to the sameness of outcome – demographics.

The talent pool is now an ocean of, or for, the ages. From your baby boomers and Gen Xers who work tirelessly and have, as of late, been laid off or forced to change roles, often underemployed, to the millennial that have been shaped by information overload, helicopter parents and a sense of entitlement  – your hands are full. Add to this, the digital natives and knowledge workers that see careers in short bursts of 18 months to 3 years and you’ve got a true war for talent! What does all of this mean for your brand?

I remember the days of old – where HR professionals were referred to as “Recruiting”, “Compensation” and sometimes “Payroll”. Oh how misunderstood we all were! Today Human Resources influences brand strategy by translatingbusiness strategy into talent strategy. It’s absolutely essential that HR leaders are working the top and front lines of their organizations. Leaders at all levels need to see you, know you and have faith that you know who and where the talent resides. Your people must see you as someone who elevates the brand beyond the transactional to the interpersonal. HR, more than any other time I can think of, stewards the brand to live its values and inspires their people to move in the direction of its shared vision. More than ever, it’s about a deep commitment to your people, your talent, from the top down.

More leaders throughout the brand will need to venture into the realm of authenticity, endeavoring into the field and engaging in spirited dialogue with their employees. More leaders will need to seek to enthuse and serve their people. And with the stewardship of HR, see to it that not only P & L’s, but also the contentment of their employees is the true measure of profits. More leaders will need to frame their accomplishments by the success of the business as well as its social influence and meaning.

A lot of things matter in today’s workplace. You can spend a significant amount of time determining the best strategies and tactics to find, train, support and develop your talent pool and from that, your future leaders. Until all organizational leaders are made responsible for the growth of its employees, therby the benchstrength of your brand, your situation will remain status quo.

By creating a strategy for the growth and development of your employees you will be able to realize your business strategy. You will have insight as to where you need to build depth. You will create a a place where people want to work. Your employees will understand how they contribute to the success of your brand. You will create the type of workplace where people stay and you will outperform the competition.

How you get there…the tools you choose to build skills and enhance opportunities is personal to your brand. There are many companies that can help you get there. No matter your means – get there. Ask yourself if your employees understand what it takes to move the brand forward, because it matters.

What is your talent strategy? How does your organization measure up? Does your talent matter?

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Tags: HR, Human, Resources, Talent, leaders, management, matters, talent

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