What’s Working So Far In Beating The Great Resignation
Personalization has become the gold standard for consumer products and services. Netflix probably knows your viewing preferences better than your significant other. Amazon makes billions each year by personalizing the ads shown to shoppers. And now, in beating the Great Resignation, more managers are saying it’s personalizing the work experience that’s giving them the best […]
Personalization has become the gold standard for consumer products and services. Netflix probably knows your viewing preferences better than your significant other. Amazon makes billions each year by personalizing the ads shown to shoppers. And now, in beating the Great Resignation, more managers are saying it’s personalizing the work experience that’s giving them the best advantage in keeping their people on the job and engaged.
Conventional wisdom has long been that all members of a team should be treated the same because that assures fair management. That is old school thinking, and post-pandemic is preventing leaders from optimizing the allocation of responsibilities among team members according to their particular motivations and abilities.
How can a busy team leader possibly afford to personalize her management approach to each individual on her team?Meet John Pray. He is a retired US Air Force brigadier general and now president and CEO of Operation Homefront, a charity that helps military families thrive in the communities they have worked hard to protect. While generals aren’t known as a warm and fuzzy bunch, Pray’s leadership style is all about connecting with each individual on his team.
“I can’t pay people what they may be worth in the private sector, so I have to find other ways to engage my team members,” he said. “Everyone has a story. By learning their story, I find out what they are proud of, and get an understanding of their aspirations. I have 120 people in my organization, and while most of them work in other parts of the country, I work hard to find out what motivates them, how they hope to develop in their careers, what gives them a charge, and what frustrates them. This is not a one-time thing. It takes a long-term commitment to build the essential bonds of trust and confidence as we work together to help them grow.”
Perhaps the most persuasive argument for personalizing the work experience is that it costs so much more to recruit new talent—some estimates put it at as much as 150 percent of an employee’s annual salary. The good news: Developing people doesn’t have to take a huge bite out of a manager’s time.
Many team leaders are now using some form of a practice called job sculpting. That is the art of forging a customized career path to help employees do a little more of what they find motivating and little less of what frustrates them—increasing your chances of retaining and engaging people. While sometimes sculpting might involve substantial changes in responsibilities, these cases are rare. Most often small changes in responsibilities or work situations create large boons in the productivity and loyalty of team members.
Managers play a key role in this process. When he was American Express’s president of global card services for Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Latin America, Jose Maria Zas said, “The best results I achieve is when I take the time to create individual ‘profiles’ of each team member, including their professional strengths and development opportunities along with their personal motivations. I get to know not only their career goals but their life goals. Using this analysis, I can then build teams that will complement and drive one another.”
That kind of attention to individual passions—as well as strengths—takes persistence and a touch of resourcefulness. For instance, a salesperson with a passion for quantitative analysis might be given a stretch assignment to work with market research, while still selling. An engineer who yearns to be more creative might help the communication team design new sales support materials—again, while retaining her primary role in engineering.
Dan Helfrich, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting, asks his people: “What do you want to get better at?” to help determine their core passions. “I want to know about a challenge they feel ready to take on, but haven’t been given the chance to do in another team. Then as the time goes along, wow, the alignment that comes from giving them small tasks or opportunities that align with what they shared with you.”
John Lowery, CEO of Applied Innovation, said this process means paying attention to the little things you hear from your people. He said, “We have a technical specialist who loves photography, so we’ve asked him to take pictures at our corporate events. He brings every bit of equipment imaginable and is so engaged. We have a woman on our front desk who is an English major. We asked if she would mind proofing our company brochures before we go to print. She said: ‘I’d love to do that.’ She’s given us great feedback, and does she ever feel valued!”
It must be said that this kind of tailoring approach involves people doing things that you actually need done, not just those they would like to do more of. And we also must accept that a person might not be good at what they love to do. The activity must be not only motivating but also a strength for the person, or something they can get better at with time and effort. Things we are passionate about, but not very good at, are what we call hobbies.
Article written by: Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family.
Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.