This will be one of the biggest battles facing project leadership in the present and immediate future. In addition, there will be two multipliers of this great challenge:
On the one hand, the talented professionals themselves will be very demanding in what they get in return for their commitment and contribution, and they will be very mobile if they are not really satisfied with the project. It is precisely their talent that gives them confidence and they will not be afraid to change organisation if they are offered new interesting opportunities, which will often happen, precisely because of the dynamics and demands of the environment.
On the other hand, the projects themselves will be shorter in terms of development time and will require more agility and speed throughout the process. Attracting and retaining talent will be costly both financially and in terms of the integration and structuring of the project itself.
Against this backdrop, it is easy to understand that leadership that is not up to the task will not be able to make any project prosper. Command and control is already part of business history. Not having a clear vision of the organisation’s purpose will penalise the entire talent management process. Failure to care for people and engage in their connection to the meaning of what we do will be business recklessness. Not being focused on being an attractive company with clear values will leave us with the mediocre (who never leave), and will drive away the talented. (who will be really demanding)
As always, there are no magic formulas to face this great challenge, but apart from the economic issue, always important but never enough, there are some factors that can be done well to maximise the chances of success. I share here my “10 Keys of Talent”, to help us reflect, review and activate the course on this issue.
The first five refer to the organisation’s Structural Leadership:
- TRAIN: Surely we have talent in the organisation itself that has not fully emerged or has not found the circumstances to be deployed. We have to detect it and train it as much as possible. They are people who are already in our team, and can contribute much more value, while boosting their motivation and commitment to the project.
- BUY: Logically, we will have to look for talent outside the organisation, both from similar sectors or companies, as well as from other areas that can contribute fresh, innovative and diverse visions. We do not need experts from the past, but experts who are motivated to create the future. And to buy, we must remember that it is not all about having the economic capacity, but about having many parameters in place that make our organisation attractive.
- SHARING: Hire talent on a project basis and only for the topic or time that is necessary. Let’s call it “outsourcing”, “interim management”, “part-time” or whatever the form of relationship, but I am not referring so much to consultants or advisors, but to people with executive capacity, even if it is on a one-off or temporary basis. This section is key, because it allows us to count on high-level professionals in a more agile way and for as long as necessary, without having to assume a “Full-Time” cost, perhaps unaffordable, or even undesirable.
- COLLABORATE: There are many organisations or professionals close to our activity with whom we can collaborate beyond competing. Although in some aspects we may overlap, we should explore opportunities to make alliances to join together on specific projects. It is absurd to develop a whole process, be it technology or services, that others are already doing very well, if there is the possibility of collaboration. Again, it allows us to be faster, more effective and safer in activating key projects for our evolution.
- COMPUTERISE: Digitisation and extensive use of technology. Powerful tools are constantly emerging to automate processes and to achieve results that were unimaginable a short time ago. Many issues for which we needed talent years ago are now provided by technology and can be developed by a purely executive person. We cannot try to play in the first division with third level tools.
The remaining five are related to Internal Leadership in the team’s own talent:
6.CONNECT: From values, purpose and sense of purpose. It is key for the personal fulfilment of talented people to be truly connected to what they do.
7. TRUST: The less control and supervision, the more attractive an organisation will be to talented people, who want to be valued for their contribution rather than their hours or attendance.
8. CONCILIATE: Allowing people to combine their personal and professional lives will be one of the most attractive factors for talent, which they may appreciate as much or more than financial remuneration.
9. COMMUNICATE: Across the board and in all directions. All issues affecting the project, whether positive or negative, must be well informed; and all members must have a voice to express their proposals or concerns. Furthermore, communication should always be empathetic and respectful.
10. ENGAGE: One of the scarcest factors at the end. There are many organisations with a great capacity to incorporate talent due to their economic and project power, but this is kept in a drawer and is not really deployed. Both on the part of the organisation and on the part of the talented people, there must be a firm commitment to contribute to the maximum for the common objective.