June 21, 2017 | by Steve Lawrence

Building Excellence into Your People Management Programs

From senior staff to millennials, the answers are similar

You could almost hear the sigh of relief across the conference room. “What about those millennials?” asked Aviva Leebow Wolmer, CEO of the steel service center Pacesetter. “Are they really so different from you and me? So uniquely demanding?

“Not really,” Leebow Wolmer told the MSCI Carbon Conference. “They turn out to be just like us. There is no need to change an effective personnel management program because of them.”

But, Wolmer emphasized, “The best way to improve your bottom line is to improve your talent pool and then manage it well. And that means engaging all of your team members effectively.” She described several key steps to optimize employee productivity and morale.

“First you have to communicate a clear vision,” she said. “And then have the confidence in your people to let your team figure out how to get there.”

This requires open communication and setting up a continuous “feedback loop” so everyone involved in a given project knows what is going on. It requires that the finances of the company are “an open book” to the employees, which in turn signals that management trusts and believes in the people who work there. “The result is a cycle of collaboration and engagement that will serve you well regardless of the problems you are tackling or goals you are setting,” she said.

Where, then, can you get the best talent for your enterprise? “Referrals are your best resource,” she said. The best people who work for you and are happy in their jobs, can turn you on to the best job prospects, she said.

In spite of what most executives seem to believe, more money and better benefits are not the reason why talented people quit their jobs.

But if you have problems retaining good people, she also suggested that you look beyond the money. “In spite of what most executives seem to believe, more money and better benefits are not the reason why talented people quit their jobs.

“The number one reason is that they don’t like their boss.” To be sure to retain talented people pay must be competitive, she said. “But our surveys also show that just as important is the challenge and engagement a job offers, the sense that they are involved in something greater, that they are getting effective coaching, recognition for doing well and that there is opportunity for advancement.”

No secrets here. “But you have to do these things,” she said, “You have to start managing your people better, right now, always with the recognition that people matter.”

As for those millennials, they have gotten a bad rap as being so different and more difficult to manage than employees from other generations. “They want what we all want from a job,” she said. “They want their work to have a sense of meaning. They want coaching and mentoring. They want leadership development and opportunity to move up. If you are managing your people effectively, there is no need to change anything for them.”  

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