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4 mindset shifts for better talent development


As leaders face the most volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environments, one thing is clear: talent is an organization’s most powerful and sustainable competitive advantage.

As a result of Art Great Resignation, the talent pipeline in many organizations may not be working. But solving this problem with creative solutions to attract, develop and retain the best employees is one of the top priorities of the leader.

However, it is a sad reality that the pipes we are most familiar with – the water pipe that delivers water to our homes – work differently than the pipes of organizational capacity. While the water starts flowing on demand, great employees don’t rush into the building as soon as a key position becomes available.

This means that leaders must always have talent in their minds and in their daily behavior. Best-in-class organizations report that their leaders share four key mindsets that help keep pipelines staffed with the best talent.

Mindset #1: I am in a better position to find new talent

Attracting top talent can no longer be a task delegated to HR. Local leaders are closest to the needs. And often closest to those best suited to meet those needs. As a result, leaders at all levels must begin expanding their job descriptions to include them in the talent search.

Talent scouts are constantly looking for promising new employees. Wherever they go and whatever they do, they look at things through the lens of asking, “How can I make the connections that will meet our needs today and in the future?” Whether it’s at a conference, reading a business magazine, or standing in line at a coffee shop, talent scouts spot opportunities where others don’t. And they cultivate relationships, even when there is no immediate need.

These leaders are also creative in terms of where they look for talent. Instead of mining the same tired sources as their competitors, they look to new places and discover those who are not necessarily the “usual suspects”. And when they do, they make a strong contribution to a rich and sustainable talent pool, even in today’s hiring market.

Mindset #2: My actions directly contribute to the employment brand we market

Today, information is instantaneous and ubiquitous. Potential candidates can learn a lot about the organization before agreeing to an interview. Increasingly, leaders are beginning to realize that a company’s employment brand can be just as important as the brand it displays to customers. And that brand is the cumulative effect of culture, behavior and policies that affect employees.

Leaders who want to support a positive employment brand should ask themselves:

  • How do potential candidates and employees currently perceive the organization … and how well are those perceptions serving us?
  • How do I contribute to the organization’s reputation?
  • What does my social media footprint say about me and the organization?
  • What steps am I taking to deliver on the promises we make to future and new employees so that they stay around, are optimally engaged, and can share their talents as much as possible?

Building an effective employment brand—one that will attract the best and the brightest—requires attention from all executives. This starts with creating the right impressions in the market, and those impressions must also come to life and create a congruent experience for the people who choose to join the organization.

Mindset #3: My job is to anticipate and understand talent needs and staffing gaps – not just in my department or group, but across the organization

Effective leaders constantly scan their environment to understand how changing business conditions will affect their group’s performance. They consider economic, environmental, demographic, political and other factors to plan for the future. High effective leaders also use this information to anticipate and begin taking early steps in direction attracting talent what will be needed for this new future. They recruit and hire today with tomorrow in mind. But taking care of your own part of the business is no longer enough.

In the past, talent was often viewed as a local or departmental resource. Isolated organizations have led to patrimonialism, territoriality and, all too often, the loss of key competitors. Given today’s highly interconnected organizations, geographic diversity, and competitive employment environment, talent must be recognized as an enterprise-wide resource.

Leaders who think bigger and bigger about talent understand that we’re all in this together. They see the value in raising awareness of talent needs not only in their department or group, but throughout the organization. What happens elsewhere may be an indicator of future problems. Thus, they anticipate and control their own weaknesses and needs while doing the same at the organizational level. As such, they are better prepared to learn, respond and share ideas and resources for the benefit of the organization as a whole.

Mindset #4: I have a responsibility to help continuously improve organizational processes to support the talent pipeline

It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. It also requires a village to ensure that the organization can attract and keep the talent he needs to thrive. While HR may own some of the processes, managers can offer perspective in the trenches. These perspectives can inform the improvement of an organization’s competitive advantage. So “if you see something, say something.”

  • Are competitors offering new benefits that entice candidates and employees?
  • Are your top candidates accepting other offers because of unreasonably long vetting processes at your organization?
  • Are promotion opportunities not transparent enough to capture the imagination of prospective employees?

Your visibility into things like this is the first step in addressing the issues that may threaten your organization’s ability to attract the talent it needs.

Regardless of the nature of your business, people are the key to achieving results. And leaders must play a central role in attracting, recruiting and ultimately hiring the people needed to ensure a seamless flow of talent.

Updated July 2022

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