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Your 4 Talent Plays for 2023

Talent has really given us a run for our money this year. They’ve resigned greatly, they’ve quit quietly. They’ve been in short supply, and also we’ve laid them off.

And while you’ve been in the business of whatever your business, I’ve been in the business of studying talent; of helping to define and craft the employee experiences that hold their hearts and minds; of providing leadership development that engages and grows them. I’ve learned more than I’ve taught.

And I’m placing bets for 2023. I want this to be the year of great experiences for great talent.

Today I offer four talent plays – based on the menagerie of insights I collected this year – that I think set us all up for a win.

1. Amplify simplicity. Your talent values small actions.

I know I bang on this drum a lot. But still. Too many companies continue to invest in big, dramatic, overhauly things – massive reorgs, or over-engineered communication plans, or big policy memos calling everyone to the office on Thursdays for “connection” and “collaboration.”

While these may seem useful and directive, they come at a cost. And not just financial. They are arduous, they take labor and planning, they require change management. And most critically, they demand a lot of your teams.

What if instead of re-orging you just clarified decision rights in the most painful process points? Or instead of reams of memos and emails you just, like, invited everyone into a real conversation once a month or quarter to connect?

Choose where you want to see more ease, and then choose something so damn simple you almost chuckle. Do that first. And see how it goes.

2. Teach leaders less. Your talent wants growth – not information.
Gartner is one of many firms saying that leadership development will – and should – be a huge focus in 2023. 

Investing in leaders is a must. It drives growth, loyalty, engagement, and ultimately business results as new skills are applied to the work.

But don’t over-index on training – the delivery of content and information. Sure, they need some of this. But mostly – they need space in which to practice. To role-play and problem-solve – to coach and be coached. To test and learn and feel accountable to a community. 

Seek out group coaching. I’m so bullish on it. Bring in our SIMPLE program (it’s so good!) or find another. But recognize that the transfer of information is only one small part of triggering action and behavior change.

3. Follow through. Your talent wants to trust you.
I say this with love. But please. Stop wordsmithing big visions and values that live under laminate. Make small promises that meet needs they’ve expressed and just deliver on those.

I’m talking to teams all over the place who are feeling…let down. Like they’ve expressed time and again what their pain points and needs are, and leadership keeps promising big solves that don’t come. Often it’s because executives are spending months on over-complex action plans, leaving their teams in the dark.

So, instead, hear a pain point and rather than trying to “solve” it find a way to infuse an iota of ease. Say it, then do it, and then say you did it.

If your team is frustrated by another team’s unwillingness to collaborate, don’t commit to fixing it. Commit to having one conversation with that team’s leader to understand the breakdown from their point of view. Then share with your team what you learned. Then commit to the next step. And then the next.

Every small promise met earns you a boatload of trust. And from a foundation of trust, you can build anything.

4. Build a coalition within. Your talent wants to dive in.
Well-intentioned companies are doing too much to or at their employees.

But one of the most powerful ways to engage your talent is to just involve them. Don’t try to figure out what they need and implement from an ivory tower.

Empower your teams to design and implement their own solutions. Let them decide how they want to collaborate more effectively. Ask what they need from you (permission? Access to a system?) and then invite them to do the rest.

It is so gratifying to make change on one’s own.

Keep these four plays at the front of your playbook. And please let me know how it goes.

Sail smooth!