Talent – Create the sought-after organisation to work in, and work with

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The Future Business Formula is my new book that provides insights into the changing landscape of business and how organisations can adapt to succeed.

At the halfway point in our blog series in the countdown to the book’s release in May, I provide an overview of Chapter 6, exploring talent – and how to become a sought-after organisation to work for, and work with.

Principle Six – Talent

Attracting the right talent is essential for business success – an organisation is nothing without its people. Recruitment is the first step in building a sought-after organisation to work with.

In the book, my co-author, ex-Formula 1 executive Mark Gallagher looks at how Formula 1 team, Mercedes-Benz, got its talent strategy right. Holly Chapman, a powertrain engineer in her twenties was recruited straight from university. Mercedes-Benz recognises every member of the team’s contribution to success by appointing a random staff member to join the drivers on the podium after a victory. And Holly got the chance to experience this. This innovative form of recognition is applied across the entire team and was first pioneered by McLaren, who distributed a high-visibility ‘winning shirt’ to every team member after a Grand Prix victory.

F1 teams have individual internship programmes and initiatives to fill their talent pipeline, but it’s not just about attracting talent, employee retention is just as important an asset.
Leaders need to understand that keeping their team engaged means reassessing the structures and processes for day-to-day operations, allowing for creative innovation. Don’t rely on promotions to reward talent, try empowering them by using their skills differently and giving them challenges and opportunities to develop.

Equally, letting go of people who aren’t right for your context is important to create and maintain an A-team. Think of the organisation as a sports team, where every player is expected to hone their skills and collaborate for collective team performance.

We mustn’t overlook the talent and expertise of junior employees. In hierarchical organisations, often these members of the team don’t have a platform to showcase their abilities. But as a leader, you can create an environment where all employees feel comfortable speaking up, challenging the status quo, and adding value. It’s important to recognise that nobody can do it all on their own and to build a team of people who are better than you in areas where you may be weaker. As a leader, your role is to serve and create an environment where talent can flourish.

Ensuring this talent is diverse will pay dividends. McKinsey found that diverse teams are very good for business, with companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry mean. In addition, those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.

Diverse teams are more likely to be objective and hold each other to account. This requires cognitive diversity, not just demographic diversity. It’s important to focus on capabilities needed for success rather than hiring someone who is the same as everyone else. Something we have found to be helpful to encourage diversity of thought is building Gen Z advisory boards who can help organisations be forward-facing and understand their future customers. Humility is needed to listen to those with less life experience, but who can still influence future success.

If we look at Steve Jobs who used the pirate metaphor to encourage his team to think differently and function without bureaucracy, we can see that it is important to find people who challenge the status quo, are rebellious, non-conformist, and radically authentic. As leaders, we must value capabilities over expertise, coach instead of dictate, and challenge conventional thinking to stay relevant in the 21st Century.


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More reading:

Read Principle One: Strategy
Read Principle Two: Customer
Read Principle Three: Alignment
Read Principle Four: Leadership
Read Principle Five: Culture
Read Principle Seven: Innovation
Read Principle Eight: Change & Delivery
Read Principle Nine: Simplification
Read Principle Ten: Organisation Design
Read Principle Eleven: Learning
Read Principle Twelve: Measurement
More information on The Future Business Formula

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Written by Adrian Stalham
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