How To Lose Great Talent In 3 Easy Steps

How To Lose Great Talent In 3 Easy Steps

… I figured out right away; most companies pay people enough, so as they don’t quit. People work hard enough, so as they don't get fired” 
 Christopher Walken - Poolhall Junkies
There’s a poker game happening right now, with tech came cost reduction, with cost reduction, came greed, with greed, came unrest, with unrest, came the GIG economy

And much of the best talent saw the light 

escape goodbye GIF

Today that economy has developed into something quite beautiful. From people making full-time incomes from their social media, starting side gigs at Fiverr and UpWork. Many have realized their dreams of freedom and being able to learn as they earn

How have employers responded?

Bean bags, Ping Pong Tables and Kombucha on Tap...

Now I have a very... interesting point of view here. In part because, part of my job entails performing a reverse engineering process on existing companies, where we dig deep into what they're doing and WHY to identify, build, and strengthen their relationship with their customers.

The real work though is in discovering HOW these companies run, because after all - as a wise project manager named Myriam Ochart once told me 

"How you do anything, is how you do everything" 

and she's right, everything rhymes, as I covered in Champions all drop this habit first, there's a sneaky way that our personal habits bleed into out businesses/careers. 

Based on years of work with startups, existing, and those wanting to scale - here's what I discovered is the easiest way to lose great talent in 3 steps. 

Step 1: Forget that R - E - S - P - E - C - T Goes Both Ways

episode 7 respect GIF by BBC America

You'd think we wouldn't have to go over this one, but alas... the old way of doing things has been engrained so deeply into the psyche of many, that there are still companies telling their people they should be grateful to have jobs. 

Newsflash: There are now over 1 million more open jobs than unemployed workers.

No one wants to stick around in a workplace that doesn’t treat them fairly. Things like diversity and real inclusion are getting addressed more these days, as Janice Gassam, Ph.D. said 

"When companies hire for "culture fit" it often leads to discrimination and can be code for "we would like our organization to continue to be homogenous."

and then you have workplace bullying like Co-Founder Steph Korey of Away who was recently exposed as not only an inexperienced executive but a bully at that.

Step 2: Remain Blind, But Demand To Lead The Visionary 

You may have a vision for where the company is going — but does everyone on the team? About two years ago, while working on a startup; there was this moment of "oh sh*t" where some of my colleagues started to tell (yell at) me to pull out.

The founder had grown so attached to his concept of what things should be, that it didn't matter if the sky was falling around him. Not one to run from a challenge, I brought several experienced and well able talent together to present solutions. 

The founders' response? To lie and cheat, putting potential customers in harm's way to keep things afloat with investor money. Prior successes (in an unrelated industry) led him to believe that everyone else was stupid, and he the genius. In the end, the talent fled, and the vultures swooped in - if you were to ask him today if it was all worth it, odds are he'd still try to convince you it "was meant to be". 

leonardo dicaprio GIF


Step 3: Romanticize Bro Culture

Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, and Wall Street (parts 1 and 2) were fun movies to watch. Some, however, took it a little more to heart than others.

These are a part of what is known as Bro Culture, a fun mashup of Frat boy meets Jersey Shore in a suit who happens to have watched a few too many Youtube videos on how to become a pickup artist. It has become such a big problem in the startup scene that it has cost them investments and even more in sexual harassment lawsuits like Vice Media.

Ben Affleck GIF

it's that old school way of thinking that has created roadblocks such as companies fighting the very idea of remote work. If they can't physically see you sitting at your desk, they feel they don't have control. 

The result tends to be bad leadership that might even pretend to believe in the latest buzzwords.

You've seen them, they love being quoted saying things like how they're "customer-obsessed" "thrive on diversity", including how they love hiring people smarter than them.

Few people (if any) like being micromanaged. People want the opportunity to grow in their jobs, and babysitting doesn't quite help things if you find yourself 'having to" then revisit your skills as a leader. Cause that's not a problem good leaders have. 

When everyone else is unhappy and not putting in a good effort, no one wants to work there.

If you've read up until now, thank you. This stuff isn't exactly fun for many to read or be told. BUT if you have some will, you have many ways.

Here are some ways

If you're open to learning about remote work, you're in luck. These days the way most companies hire is to seek the best of the best that has been performing the role they're hiring for x years within a radius of bout 25-35 miles.

If this is you, ask yourself; "Why would that talent leave my competitor to come work here?"

Practice really communicating your vision from top to bottom, is everyone in alignment? Does the vision help them get closer to their goals?

Speaking of goals, Have you outlined a clear path for advancement for your best employees? Have you explored ways to help them sharpen their skills?   

It pays off getting to know your employee’s goals and help them, even if it means leaving the company down the line (open your contacts list to your best)

Are you paying market rate or better? If yes, discover ways to over-deliver with perks, access to advancements and opportunities to make more as your company expands. 

As Nate Guggia (an expert in Employer branding) says 

"Progressive companies offer alternative paths of progression for IC’s to continue experiencing professional growth, pay increases, and more responsibility, without the glass ceiling of a title"

If no, why don't you have the funds to pay talent at market rate? Talent is an investment, not an expense. There's a good reason the saying goes 

"Bears and Bulls eat, Pigs get slaughtered"


Here's to escaping average, 

Katriel | Nerd Gone Rogue

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