Beverley Merriman

Leadership 101

Your biggest resource is your employees — your biggest problem harnessing their talent.

The right people … passionate, accountable, loyal, dependable, punctual, culturally fit and mentally stable — and to top it all, they have the ability to think on their feet. They’re brilliant, talented, motivated and hungry for information, innovation, results and success.

So you managed to employ the “right” people. Good for you — grab yourself a Noddy badge and move on to the fact that you now have to manage and harness their talent for a greater good.

The right people with the wrong strategy, wrong structure and wrong operational systems, undoubtedly, spell disaster. Why? Well, Einstein, no matter how brilliant, talented and initially passionate the people are, they can’t (and won’t) perform when your company has little or no strategy, the wrong structures and bad operational systems. It’s what we call limiting.

You biggest headache has just become orienting talent! How do you do this? Well, start with yourself. Are you a good leader? Are you the key to retaining talent? Of course you are! You control the strategy, structures and operational systems, don’t you?

Apart from seeing to it that the basics are in place for your talented team to function, to retain and harness talent, you need to become a wiz at mentoring, nurturing your staff and giving them some worthwhile feedback — tactfully. Retaining these hard-to-please (also very rare to find!) individuals should be your number-one goal. A company is ultimately only as good as the company it keeps. Effective networking is crucial and excellent relationships and constructive communication with staff, suppliers and customers are priceless.

Things you need to get in place and to develop include ( these won’t guarantee talent retention, but will improve your odds drastically):

  • Strong leadership — it’s reassuring.
  • Visible passion and excitement from yourself — it’s contagious.
  • Recognition for input, effort and hours — people love acknowledgement. It’s a fundamental human need.
  • A conductive environment with sufficient resources — systems, practices and strategy will make or break the spirit of your team.
  • The minimum bureaucracy — wake up, this is a new world. Red tape and top-down structure is outdated. Get yourself into a state of transparency, collaboration and flat organisational structure. Nobody cares about middle management any more.
  • Trust — being constantly suspicious of your staff because you are a control maniac is no way to retain talented intellectual beings.
  • Give them work-life balance — and you will be an instant hero. Realise that they, too, have lives!
  • Now, genius, go out there and get going. These are exponential times, in an age where speed is key … do you really have time to sit and contemplate the implementation of this? I think not.