We get asked for advice and guidance by firms large and small every day, and when reviewing whether or not to work with a new client, we try to do our due diligence and determine for ourselves whether this going to be something beneficial for both client and consulting firm. One of the unspoken, immeasurable, but over-riding factors we consider is: “Do we like working with these people”. The human factor is an “X” factor that is hard to quantify, but is crucial to a successful outcome.
How do you find, and keep those “Good” people in your organization, the ones that are loyal, hard working, dedicated and passionate about their work? Top talent requires top treatment, but how do you craft an incentive program that keeps them challenged, interested and passionate? What kind of carrot do you dangle in front of those talented executives to keep them in your stable?
According to some of the region’s foremost HR experts, a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits, incentives and retention is no longer viable, and I tend to agree. If you think about it, as marketers, we know that you can’t expect great results by sending the same package to wildly different audiences. So why would you expect great results making the same offer to a broad range of employees? Internal segmentation is just part of the story. If you dig deeper, you’ll find there are other elements that add to retention that you might not have thought of. Transparency is a tough issue that many private or family firms struggle with, but that can make a huge difference in your retention of top senior executive talent – they are savvy enough to want to know where the money is going and how decisions are being made that affect the future of the company. The lower- and mid-level employees should share this access to information, but for them, some more intensive and extensive education is coupled with the information, so that they can understand what they are seeing and how to interpret the data accurately and draw reasonable conclusions.
Most of the experts agreed that while retention is an issue, making good hiring decisions in the beginning is the single largest factor in keeping good talent on board. Some suggest pre-employment screening tests and inventories of various stripes, but most agreed as well that any single instrument should not be weighted too heavily, and certainly not weighted above the interviewers insights and impressions, background checks and due diligence. In general, their feeling was, skills can be taught, attitude can not, and that those with the right mindset that will fit in culturally with the mission and goals of the organization will do better long-term than those with top skills but behavioral issues.
What does any of this have to do with marketing? It strikes me that there are parallels between how you select and retain employees, and how you attract and retain customers. Aside from the obvious connection that the marketing department are crucial hires for your organization, and often some of the highest turnover ones. Good marketing talent is difficult to find, even at a point where double digit unemployment is quickly becoming the norm. If you find such individuals, you should strive to assess their needs and hold on to them using any means necessary, because they can make or break your company faster than any other department. Marketers can do more damage with a slipshod approach than any embezzler or bull-in-a-china-shop manager.
Spend as much time on hiring your marketers as they do segmenting their customer lists and researching the target market, and all will be well. Spend time to get to know them, make sure they’re compatible with your mission. Don’t worry if they seem a little “off” in a couple of social areas – these top talents are trained to think way outside the box, to innovate, to be renegades, not to be the round peg in a round hole. Don’t hold that against them in the hiring process, for these are signs of their future success . . .
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