XVA Labs Two Questions That Matter In Having a Competitive Workforce

The Two Questions That Matter In Having A Competitive Workforce

In Culture, Employee Advocacy, HR, Organizational Change, Workshops by Matt Ridings26 Comments

The Two Questions That Matter

There are only a couple of questions where developing talent is concerned that matter.

1) Can you afford to invest in your employees skills only to watch that talent then walk out the door?
2) Can you afford to *not* invest in your employees skills only to watch that stagnant workforce *stay* at your organization?

The answer to both questions is of course a resounding ”no”.

Answering The Questions

The first question is resolved with culture and talent development programs that are meaningful to the values of the incoming workforce.  That begins with truly understanding your organizations values and vision and ensuring alignment during the hiring process, and ends with ongoing programs to align the existing workforce when they have become disconnected with those underlying cultural values.

The answer to the second question is a little simpler in that it requires the same solutions.

Are Your Values Meaningful?

What’s always surprising is how few organizations can actually articulate their values in a meaningful way, or more importantly, back up those values by living them through daily examples and decisions.  Without that, the rest is doomed to failure.

What are your core values? Does the organization understand those values and how to apply them in context to their particular functions? Do they understand them in context to a clear laid out vision for where the organization is headed?

As a side note, we apply a set of standard tests to what can truly be defined as a ‘value’ when evaluating organizations and it turns out that the vast majority of things presented as values are not actually values at all. There are a number of traits that make something a core value, but the simplest of all is that a value is something that never, ever, changes…regardless of shifts in business models, markets, etc. Take a peek at what your organizations values are and see if they meet even that simple litmus test, my guess is that you’ll find quite a number which are made up every year (“This year our values are ….”).

Do You Know What You Think You Know?

When we do our culture mapping assessments we virtually always find a disconnect between what the top leadership believes its organization values and what the practitioners believe.  At the top of the organization they typically feel they have thought about this question of vision and values and expressed it through their internal communications. And often, they have.

But this is not how culture is disseminated and these values are often so subjective as to be difficult to interpret and so the workforce puts its head back down and goes back to whatever their immediate supervisor deems important…which is typically the same thing that was important yesterday.

They see no change in the behavior above them, the stories at the water cooler stay the same, there are no symbolic gestures aside from the words which may as well have been put on a plaque in the hallway for all the good they’ve done.

Are You Competitive And A Smart Investor?

So let’s get back to the original questions. Do you invest in your employees growth? Do you also invest in ensuring that the organization is fully aligned culturally and engaged and thus provides an environment in which retention rates are higher? Do you truly know if your organization is aligned in the first place or is there some doubt? After all, most of the CEO’s who’ve hired us for assessments thought they were aligned as well.

Talent is THE competitive differentiator, make sure you’re investing intelligently.


Matt Ridings – @techguerilla


image courtesy: Tintin44 


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