July 03, 2012

10 Ways to Grow Talent in Your Company

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You must've seen many people leave companies and institutions sighting the reasons "I don't see myself growing here!" or "It's been 10 years and I'm still doing the same thing I did when I joined the company. So, I'm quitting!" This isn't new to you or me, but many a time, such comments are treated as a trivial one. In continuation of my earlier two articles on Acquiring Talented Individuals and Retaining Talented People, I will like to touch upon the Growth aspect of people in this one.

In this article, I'm going to make an assumption that you have been able to hire the best people and
have done every bit to retain them. Now, we are talking about smart people who are happy at work - Will they ever want to leave, you may ask. Why not? Remember, smart people who are happy at work are like speeding Formula1 cars - Steer them in the right direction with the necessary pit-stops, you will see them finishing the race for you. If you make any mistake in doing this, you are only going to see them crash out! What does that mean? Read on...

Let's first do a reality check, before we make some observations and look at suggestions. Here are some classic claims made by many companies today -
  1. "We have proper roles, responsibilities and career paths defined - You should see where each roles will take you and pick that to grow in this company"
  2. "Managers will define Goals for the people they manage every year - If you exceed these goals, it's a sign that you are growing"
  3. "One of the best aspects of our company is that we have a flat-organizational model. Meet Mr. X...he is going to be your Manager! Ah one more thing, Mr. Y will be your Team Lead!"
  4. "Your designation is Senior Architect - these 5 people will report into you"
  5. "We have a startup kinda culture at our company - people are self-driven" (This is in a company that's been around for 7 to 8+ years with a multi-level hierarchy and 400+ people)
Well, that was just a very small sample of what you will hear from many companies. Evolution is a natural phenomenon, and things evolve only when the ecosystem offers the necessary support. This applies to people too. The companies' ecosystem formed by its people, policies and infrastructure has to be conducive for people to grow. Having good policies alone does not create a good ecosystem for growth. It's the right mix of all the three ingredients that really matter.

Referring to point #1 above - Offering well defined roles, responsibilities and career paths (which is good) doesn't make any difference if the other inhabitants of that ecosystem (the company) and its infrastructure is not good. To point #2's effect - Has the manager's abilities to identify and assign goals been put to test? If the Managers cannot assign the right goals, there is a good chance that the employee will want to leave!

Flat Organizational Model and the terms ManagerTeam Lead [Ref. #3 above] seems to me like a paradox. Designations and Roles [Ref. #4 above] are different - trying to combine the two will lead to lack of clarity and hence lack of satisfaction. Using the term Startup for too long or to portray youthfulness and energy is wrong! Please remember that real leaders are not driven by titles or power - they are driven by passion and a sense of accomplishment.

Here are some ways you can nourish an ecosystem centered around growth -
  1. Establish a Mentor-driven workplace as opposed to Management-driven workplace
  2. Establish guidelines as opposed to rules
  3. Establish a Social-workplace as opposed to traditional Segmented-workplace
    • No, this is not about using a Social Network for work, but to establish a socially friendly workplace
    • Remove cubicles and private office spaces and bring in long tables where people can sit together to work,  like in a feast!
  4. Nurture leadership across the board
    • Good organizations have good leaders; Great organizations have leadership at all levels across the board
    • Establish a sense of ownership across the board
  5. Identify, Establish and Retain the DNA of your company continuously
    • This is a continuous process that needs to be revisited every day
    • Observe the health of the organization continuously and address issues immediately
  6. Establish clarity in roles and responsibilities across the board
  7. Focus on communication across the organization
    • Transparency in communication across the board
  8. Establish a pull-culture, as opposed to a push-culture
    • People sign-up for work and activities as opposed to being assigned work
  9. Establish a learning organization
    • Have good books and subscribe to the best journals
    • Encourage people to take risks and reward them
  10. Groom well-rounded leaders
    • Offer a bucketful of opportunities for people driven by a passion
    • Groom your leadership from within the organization
That was just the top 10 ways of creating an environment conducive for the growth of people. I will love to hear from you on things that've worked and not worked for you or your company. Have a great time building wonderful organizations!

Stay Tuned! Stay Inspired!

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