Focus on your People: How effective communication and transparency lead to higher talent retention – Interview with Vicky Reddington
Having the best team within your organization is primarily linked to hiring the best people and organizations that have a robust recruitment strategy will inevitably find the best candidates. However a sound strategy on how to retain that talent is even more important. With the Great Attrition still in full flow it is evident that the organizations who have changed their behaviors to a more people centric strategy are benefiting from a lower attrition rate.
How would you define employee communication and why do you believe it is more important now than ever before?
Great question. Employee communication can be quite a complex area for organizations to get right. There are different types of communications from company-wide, departmental, business units, team and cross-team collaboration.
We could simplify by saying there are communications from corporate down, communication flowing back up, and don’t forget sideways.
Communications from corporate down has noticeably changed over the last couple of years due to the pandemic. We hear about more leaders doing regular hands-on meetings and generally being more visible within the business. Leaders have done a great job working on the company’s purpose. This is something which comes across strongly in the Tech Leader Survey.
Having a clear purpose is so important. Business consultant Patrick Lencioni explains that once the strategy and strategic anchors are in place, you simply keep repeating them. It’s the CEO’s job to be the “chief reminding officer.” People in the field don’t always hear about corporate strategy, so it’s crucial that leadership consistently repeat the message – it shouldn’t be changed at every all-hands meeting!
Once you have a consistent message, the question is then how do you cascade the message down the organization? That’s where OKRs fit in. You can filter the message down to individual team level.
I love the story that Patrick Lencioni tells of Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford. When Alan Mulally joined Ford he was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. They asked “what’s the strategy?” Alan pulls out a business card with the strategy written on it. Super simple! A couple of years later at another interview, he pulls the same card out. You need consistency.
It’s normal practice to think about how to flow communications down, but how do you ensure communications flow back up and across teams? That’s where Beaconforce fits in really nicely.
In the recent Tech Leader Survey Report published by the Amplified Group, it’s been mentioned several times the importance of focusing on people. Why do you think a focus on people is crucial to the success of a company both in the tech industry and otherwise?
We’ve just recorded a new Get Amplified podcast with Darren Thayre, Head of Innovation, Global Strategic Initiatives at Google. Darren works with boards and CEO’s on strategy and transformation. He tells us that it doesn’t matter how much AI you have in the workplace, business is still run by people and it’s the people that make the difference. We completely agree and have been saying that the tech industry is powered by people.
To avoid the great attrition and to stay competitive, leaders have to put as much focus on people as the business.
Paul Wiefels from the Chasm Group summed this up beautifully on a podcast with us,
“Technology is very mainstream now. Tech companies are always fighting in a time-based competition. Nowadays there is not more than ten cents or pence worth of discernible difference between one technology and another in the same category. How you take things to market is just as important as what you take to market, and how you are organizing your troops within the company is even more important than it was previously.”
We are seeing growing recognition in the tech industry that how we work together makes all the difference.
A major finding in the Tech Leader Survey Report was that there was a drop in the number of employees who think that there is trust and belief that the best ideas win, signifying that leaders may be losing faith that their voices are being heard. What do you think are the reasons for this?
Quite simply organizations haven’t put the vehicles in place to make that happen and ideas aren’t bubbling up. With remote working, we are not bumping into execs at work to have those important conversations. It’s become really noticeable and it hasn’t been helped by virtual working. Organizations are moving faster than ever and not making the time to listen – to really listen.
The speed of work has resulted from back-to-back meetings, longer workdays (no travel time), plus holding meetings for the sake of meetings. It goes back to taking time to slow down, reflect on what’s important, ensure everyone has a voice, be able to make a final decision that everyone’s bought into, and then get going.
What are the major factors you believe contribute to the Great Attrition particularly post-pandemic? And how do you believe these can be remedied?
Our Tech Leader Survey Report has shown that competing priorities is the number one issue affecting organizations. We seem to be adding priorities, rather than reducing them. This means people are stretched to the limit. It’s relentless. Too many chiefs are giving different priorities, with not enough discussion and lack of clear direction.
We talk about simplicity a lot and about the need to go slow to go fast. Get all your planning up front and then you can get people aligned. I know this sounds simple, but it’s not easy to do in practice.
On top of this, remote working has reduced the opportunity for people to work collaboratively as a team, to get to know and trust each other, to agree what is most important to achieve and by whom. New recruits have possibly never even met their teammates face to face. Everyone is working in silos.
It’s important that people feel like they belong to a group. If you have a lack of loyalty because you don’t know people, it’s going to be easier to look at alternative job offers. You’re on an ever speeding merry go round and you can’t figure how to get off and have a break!
It’s only natural that we’re seeing an increase in employee turnover rates as people reshape their expectations and seek out those companies that provide a more flexible and supportive approach to their needs.
Vicky, as you know, Beaconforce is a deep listening tool, based on solid scientific foundations, which helps companies translate people’s voices into insights and predictive analysis, creating more engaging, sustainable, and performing work environments. The companies that choose us are innovative and cutting-edge, they care about the well-being of their people. This coupled with the findings of the Tech Leader Survey truly embodies the fact that companies need to put their people first to succeed holistically.
To conclude, do you think software such as Beaconforce is imperative and linked to winning the war for talent and executing at speed, particularly in the tech industry?
Our fundamental building block for any work we do, with any organization, starts with helping them to build trust. Beaconforce views trust in the same way we do and calls it out as a separate insight. Without trust you cannot build sustainable, successful teams. Research has shown that teams with high levels of trust are more engaged and highly resilient.
The Beaconforce seven pillars relate beautifully to the challenges faced by people in the tech industry. The reason people are leaving is because they don’t feel appreciated. They are working harder than ever but not feeling valued. The importance of a ‘thank you’ cannot be overlooked. The feedback Beaconforce pulls out is critical to organizations to understand how their people feel and helps improve talent retention.
Since the pandemic we’ve started to realize just how important soft skills are. They are the hardest skills to learn but Beaconforce makes that simple.
Thank you very much for this interview, Vicky.
About the Amplified Group
The Amplified Group, a Beaconforce partner company, recognizes the tech industry is powered by people. They believe that success is dependent on having a deliberate focus on the human element enabling organizations to build unstoppable teams.
The Amplified Group delivers a breakthrough business methodology guiding organizations to create clarity of purpose providing a unique learning experience that helps people discover the ultimate competitive advantage of teamwork to realize this purpose.
To understand the current state of the industry, they ran their second annual Tech Leaders Survey during the second half of 2021 to find out the results they were seeing through their Team Speed Check.