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  • Robert Courser

Human Capital: Once You Get ‘Em, How Do You Keep Them?

The economic recovery in 2021 will put a premium on execution. Why? Because the operating environment will be more stable and predictable. 2020 was the year of big strategic changes; in 2021, you just need to execute well.


However, how do we even know how well our organizations are currently executing? Financials cannot give the full picture since they don’t tell us how much better we could perform.


We are a PI Certified Partner because we have a passion for execution - after all, you can only execute through your people. However, there is more to execution than human capital.


We recently became a Line-of-SightSM Certified Partner to help our clients execute better. Line-of-SightSM looks beyond talent to help you assess the five Key Success factors for Execution (let’s call them KSEs): Strategic Understanding, Leadership, Balanced Metrics, Activities & Structure, and yes, Human Capital.


This blog represents our fifth in a series of simple tips on execution. Every week we discuss how you can improve each of the five KSEs.


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Human Capital: Once You Get ‘Em, How Do You Keep Them?

The Importance of Human Capital


You execute with people and through people. Employees are your most precious asset, but they are also the one asset over which you have the least control. Employees walk out of your facilities at the end of each workday and many of them have not even been physically in the office in the past 9 months.


In addition, the pandemic created an unusual dynamic as voluntary turnover abated during 2020 and many employees hunkered down so that we expect a massive talent exodus in 2021, once GDP growth is firmly established and changing jobs becomes less risky than it was last year.


Even if you are the lucky recipient of that talent, this will raise your retention stake even higher: the crisis showed employees what good crisis leadership and a supportive culture looked like, and they will expect the same going forward even when the pandemic dissipates. So how will you retain your talent and ensure it drives your execution?


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Answer the questions below to assess if your human capital is powering or hindering your ability to execute.


  1. Are your managers fully aware of the motivational needs of their team members?


  1. Is your organization fully able to attract and retain your top talent?


  1. Are your development, learning, and training programs fully aligned with your business strategy?


  1. Is knowledge widely shared across the organization?


If you answered “No” at least once, your talent is disrupting your execution and the success of your business strategy is at risk.


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Managers play an outsize role in the motivation and retention of employees. Bad bosses are the #1 reason why employees leave organizations. You can counter that risk by training your managers to be self-aware and aware of the behavioral drives and needs of their team members. The Predictive Index is one of the behavioral assessments that can be used for that purpose; regardless of the tool, you will maximize retention if your managers apply the “platinum rule” and lead their employees the way employees want to be led.


Self-aware managers are key to retaining employees. To attract them in the first place, consider the fundamental premise of talent optimization: having the right people in the right jobs. Harness the power of objective data to hire people who have the right behavioral profile for the position you are filling. Skills can be taught, but behaviors cannot change. Get it right the first time.


The pace of change keeps increasing across all industries. The competencies you need from individual employees keep evolving to ensure effective execution. Therefore, ongoing training is more critical than ever, both for technical skills and for “soft” skills including leadership development. Your training and development must align with your strategy, meaning it must anticipate your needs 12 to 36 months ahead. Companies increasingly develop competency maps and use their L&D program to develop current employees in addition to hiring externally.


Finally, employees will execute well if they freely exchange information. Knowledge sharing contributes to personal growth and powers innovation (not just new product development like Apple), but the sum of daily adjustments and enhanced practices that incrementally and continuously improve execution.

In our next blog, we will consider how the pursuit of best practices in execution may actually put your market differentiation at risk.


How well is your business executing? To find out, please reach out and we will initiate an assessment of your execution capabilities.




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