The biggest superpower a leader has is their team. This is why, when consulting on a digital transformation, our first focus is your people. With the support and loyalty of a team who feel valued; mediocre processes and frameworks can easily be ironed out.
You spent a lot of budget hiring the right digital talent. It’s difficult, the process sucks, (most) recruiters suck, and most leaders feel like it’s a waste of their time. Trust me, as a recruitment industry veteran, I know. But hey, if you want that top striker…
Fast forward a couple of months and congratulations, you’ve hired your “champion”. Manage to hold onto them and you’re one step closer to reaching your ambition. Easier said than done! One of the most difficult yet important challenges faced by today’s leaders is the retention of their talent.
If you Google “How to retain your employees” you’ll find some viable but pretty basic tips: create a good culture, improve your people management skills, be transparent, make them feel appreciated, etc. Not forgetting the many factors that are beyond your control: people move abroad, change careers, competitors offer better benefits, etc.
There are some things that could be easily fixed but almost never are. I’m talking about the actual work your employees do, every day. One of the most difficult yet important challenges faced by today’s leaders is the retention of their talent. Personally, I don’t understand why so many leaders still choose to hire external teams from expensive consultancy firms to take on all the innovative projects. When, at the end of the day, your own people are right there just itching to get a look in.
Picture this: Erik ten Hag, coach of Ajax, has his team play against local Dutch clubs every week (booooring). Then, at least six times a year they get the chance to play in the Champions League (these games are awesome). They play against clubs like Real Madrid; with real competition and a lot of prestige. His team loves these games. For some unknown reason, Erik then decides to ask a couple of other Dutch teams (let’s say Feyenoord, PSV & RKC) to pitch for taking Ajax’s place in the Champions League. He picks PSV to play against Real Madrid whilst his squad sits on the bench.
In business we see this happen all the time. When an organisation wants to build a new platform/service/corporate start up with all the bells and whistles: machine learning, premium experience, big budget, etc; they send out an RFP to a couple of ‘hotshot’ firms. In the meantime, their own people are stuck behind the scenes, trying to fix a technical debt accrued in the years prior. There will probably be over a hundred different reasons for the RFP. But the outcome, in our experience, is always the same. Dissatisfied employees…
So how can you retain your digital champions? Personally, I don’t understand why so many leaders still choose to hire external teams from expensive consultancy firms to take on all the innovative projects. Start letting them do the cool projects. Have trust they will do just as good (or better) than the hotshot consultancy firms. If they don’t have the skills yet, which probably won’t be the case with champions, they’ll learn it in no time.
Of course I’m biased: I work for a digital consultancy & training firm supporting leaders and executives with their digital transformations. We say ‘no’ when asked to participate in these kinds of pitches. When working with a leader, we will transfer all of our knowledge and train their people in everything that they need to know. Thereby creating a positive culture where people feel valued.
So, if you are a leader and take responsibility for a group of people: this is the first quick fix you need to take!
I hope this gave you some insights you can relate to. Most important is to act on it. Have you given up on your team?
Previously published on Medium, written by:
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