Maximize Company Talent


Firms try to boost their bottom line by lifting sales, introducing new products and managing expenses. Also worth it is helping employees reach their potential.

Embrace the stakes. Bill Conaty, retired senior vice president of human resources for General Electric (GE) and co-author with Ram Charan of “The Talent Masters,” told IBD: “If businesses managed their money as carelessly as they manage their people, most would be bankrupt. Talent is the edge that provides business with competitive advantage.”

Create profiles. While companies allocate considerable resources to learn about customers, they should be doing the same with their employees, says Sean O’Neil and John Kulisek, authors of “Bare Knuckle People Management.”

Find out what workers think about their job. Learn what skills they have and where they see themselves in the big picture. Discover what they like to do outside of work. This helps with perks and rewards that you can personalize.

Another key: Learn what they “like about your management style and what they could use more or less of from you,” O’Neil said.

Give lots of feedback. Doing this reinforces desirable behavior, Kulisek says. It also ties into knowing what makes each employee tick. Understanding that someone on your team wants a promotion could help you steer him there.

Care. Hank Gilman, author of “You Can’t Fire Everyone,” advises taking an interest in your employees’ careers. He said that when people he manages land better jobs in or out of his firm, “I know I’ve done right by them and got them prepared for the next step. … It’s a great way to motivate: Make sure your people come first.”

Caitlin Kelly, author of “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail,” said leaders must talk to employees, treating “them as human beings, not just disposable labor. You can only get out of people, at any age, what you put into them.”

O’Neil said: “It’s not only about giving warm fuzzies. It’s about maximizing individual and team performance.”

Connect. Effective management is dependent on aligning the employee’s goals and the objectives of the organization, says Ryan FitzSimons, CEO of the marketing firm Gigunda Group. This goes back to communicating with employees to learn how they are doing and if they’re satisfied with their jobs. “Achieving alignment, even with the hourly line employee, will pave the way for a more engaged employee,” he said.

Encourage fun. Build team spirit with group lunches. Tell employees at the events that they’re valued, says FitzSimons.

Fight fear. This, O’Neil and Kulisek say, is the quiet killer of productivity. Employees can become rattled from rumors of layoffs and a resentment that festers from being passed over for promotion and from jealousy regarding salaries and bonuses. Such feelings “keep employees unproductively frustrated and worried and talking to recruiters,” O’Neil and Kulisek wrote. “The best managers we’ve encountered not only acknowledge that they exist, but take the step to point them out to others as soon as they see them forming. Exposure has a way of quickly diminishing a pink elephant’s harm and oftentimes leads to insights and solutions that pave the way for increased productivity and efficiency.”

by Michael Mink / April 25, 2011 / © Investor’s Business Daily, Inc.

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