Innovation, customer relationships, operational excellence. All these things matter to high performing organizations. But none so much as recognizing and retaining your human capital.
If you want to create a highly successful organization, you’ll have no choice but to understand and manage your human capital. So how do you appreciate and increase the value of your employees, while keeping them engaged and happy? Let’s explore the process.
Why human capital is your greatest asset
When products, services and knowledge are all commoditized, there’s no barrier to entry so competition explodes. Meaningful differentiation gets harder and harder to achieve, while the market evolves so fast you can barely keep up with the changes.
At this point, many organizations pour all their effort into branding, hoping to stand out in an overcrowded environment. But the best source of differentiation for a company remains its people. If everyone within the company authentically believes in what they’re doing, the experience a customer has with your business will be worth more than a hundred brand consultants.
Today’s managers are the first generation to face the challenge of differentiation through leadership — the top managers are those who can lead and develop leadership in others.
Why you can’t simply pay for better people
The talent you want working for your organization isn’t attracted to money alone. Today’s jobseekers are still interested in a handsome compensation package, but they also want work to be a meaningful experience they enjoy, one they feel passionate about. And they want to feel in control.
Deloitte’s research on the 21st century workforce shows that Millennials form a growing proportion of the world’s workers. By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials. At the same time, Baby Boomers are slow to retire, so HR leaders will need to find effective ways to manage a workforce of increasingly diverse ages.
Setting aside all exaggerated and stereotyped claims about what Millennials and Boomers want from life, Deloitte’s report confirms that a mere career isn’t enough — and that these employees will look for new jobs if they don’t feel engaged and purposeful in their work.
All this means managers must prepare for a change of practice. If the old recruitment, leadership and retention strategies don’t appeal to employees, what will? Millennials, primed by always-on social networking and mobile technology, want to give and receive frequent feedback. A rising number of employees (of all generations) want less formal, more flexible working arrangements.
Any company that fails to provide what its employees want will soon lose its most valuable human capital to wiser competitors. The choice is simple: adapt to the new workforce, or face a huge drop in employee engagement and performance —with a matching rise in employee turnover.
Both Deloitte and this Conference Board CEO survey report that companies desire these common outcomes in response to human capital needs:
- Improve leadership development
- Increase employee engagement
- Retain critical talent
- Train and develop employees
- Attract more talent
Easier said than done, of course. Let’s go into more detail about how you can achieve these outcomes for your organisation.
How to win human capital
Develop an effective employee mobilization strategy.
The evolution of employee development happens in 3 phases. The first phase is employee satisfaction, typically measured by a simple employee review survey. The second phase is employee engagement, in which employees are inspired and motivated to work in the company’s best interest. The third phase is employee mobilization.
The difference between engagement and mobilization is that in the third phase, employees are not merely enthusiastic but are focused on agility and speed in responding to opportunities and threats. They handle events on the ground instead of passing them up a time-consuming chain, and their actions are aligned with business objectives.
Reaching this third phase of employee development is critical to a company’s long term viability. To mobilize employees, leaders must aim high and be willing to experiment by challenging dogmas, adapting swiftly to change, and exploring fringe ideas.
Moving toward leadership advantage
Not every business is equally mature in its leadership capabilities. Immature leadership progresses from a tactical application of practices without analyzing the impact on feedback, to a focus on response with managers taking greater responsibility for employee development and feedback. As leadership matures further it reaches a level of insight with the ability to align workforce competencies and workgroups with business objectives.
Finally, mature leadership operates from a foresight perspective, using quantitative management and continuous change to empower employees and integrate competencies.
To achieve maturity, you can make changes to one or more of the following elements of your approach to leadership:
- Human capital management strategy
- Work processes
- Organizational change and competence
- Employee feedback management technology
To develop and retain your human capital, you need to adjust each of these elements toward foresight-based leadership, in the right order.
How to get started
The first step is to assess where you stand today.
Collect data on your current phase of employee development and leadership maturity. Are your employees satisfied, engaged or mobilized? For each of the above elements of your approach to leadership, which stage of maturity have you reached: tactical, response, insight or foresight?
It can’t be over-emphasized how important it is to undertake this kind of self-analysis before you attempt to improve your company’s leadership capabilities for competitive advantage. Without a self-assessment, you won’t be able to determine which element of your approach can be changed for the greatest positive effect.
For example, spending money on high-tech employee engagement and feedback solutions won’t necessarily help you improve employee development or hear the voice of the employee, if you don’t already have the essential processes in place. Or to use a simple analogy, if you’re a terrible writer, buying the latest word processing software won’t magically improve your skill with words.
Make sure to develop your company’s leadership strategy and vision to a level that can support organizational change and technology upgrades. Without that vision, any moves you make will be shallow and unguided.
If you’re ready to improve the way you manage and value of human capital at your company, why not sign up for Questback today or contact us to discuss your unique business needs.