As the unemployment rate in the state of Iowa continues to drop and the national one also moves in this direction, I listen to more and more leaders across the country describe that their biggest strategic challenge right now is how to recruit and retain good employees. Many for-profit and non-profit organization are dealing with open positions where they just can not find the right people for the right seats on the bus, referencing an old Jim Collin’s metaphor.
As I participate in these strategic level discussions, I am reminded of the following quote by Roger Herman: "In the future, success will depend on a stable workforce of people who can adapt to rapid change. That's because no matter what else shifts in the market, relationship continuity is increasingly going to be what matters to customers, to suppliers, and to investors. Even in a fast economy, it's still longevity that counts.”
What we have to realize this morning is that the future has now arrived and we as leaders need to respond to it in a thoughtful and concerted effort. This problem is not going away and will more likely be compounded as more and more Baby Boomers retire.
Here are three quick recommendations as we all seek to build relationship continuity. First, succession planning is a hot and getting hotter topic during many strategic reviews. This will continue to be an issue, but we also need to realize that in order to build relationship continuity, we need to start focusing more on engagement planning and in particular how to develop better supervisors, managers and leaders who people want to stay and work with through change.
Second, we need to spend more time discussing collaboration within the company and between the company and it suppliers. Collaboration is the sum of a multitude of specific behaviors. Figuring out how to collaborate better will improve the potential for people to stay longer in their jobs and be more effective.
Finally, we need to focus more on the processes and systems that build cultural clarity and operational excellence. These two pieces are intertwined and will make a major difference in recruitment and retention.
This week, pull your team together and begin talking about the importance of relationship continuity. The future has arrived.