How to NOT annoy your most talented employee. A case study

Recently I coached an individual who was in a predicament at work.

A senior role within the firm was externally advertised and had not been filled. The word on the street was that this individual was going to be lumped with the major tasks of that role, rather than formally promoted. In addition, apparently there was to be no change in remuneration and they had not been consulted about any of the proposed changes.

A meeting was arranged to discuss this situation and I coached them prior.

I asked how they were feeling about the up-coming meeting and they were nervous, anxious and quite annoyed at the situation that was about to occur. They felt as though they were being taken advantage of.

The reality

This isn’t the first time I have seen organisations amalgamate roles such as in this situation. Whilst there are likely a myriad of reasons why the role wasn’t filled externally, there is still a much better way that organisations can handle these matters, especially when it comes to retaining key talent.

After all, don’t we want our people to be valued and treated with respect?

Let’s swap the narrative

A senior role that was being externally advertised was not able to be filled. As a result, we have identified a high-potential employee inside the organisation whom we’d like to discuss this opportunity with and will subsequently implement the appropriate development plan to prepare them for this leadership position if they wish to explore the opportunity with us.

See, that sounds better, doesn’t it?

Here are 5 ways organisations can use Bold Conversations™ to nurture key talent.

  1. Conduct regular performance meetings

I often implement a framework of alternating the nature of performance conversations. 1 meeting to discuss performance formally (in relation to KPIs etc), the following meeting for coaching conversations or to conduct skills training.

  1. Be open about their strengths

Tell your employee which of their skills or characteristics are the ones you value most. Help them to enhance these attributes. Give live feedback when they apply them well.

  1. Be upfront about areas for improvement

Tell them – unfiltered – the areas that are holding them back. Workshop these together to achieve improvement. (Not helpful = “sometimes you just don’t communicate well”. Helpful = In this morning’s meeting, I noticed you cutting off 2 people when they didn’t agree with you. Can we talk through that together?”)

Don’t hang on to ‘constructive feedback’ for the next performance meeting. Deliver the observation right after the event so you can both workshop the situation together.

Many managers dilute the key message when it comes to delivering constructive feedback, areas of development, or however else you want to dress up “the bad stuff”.

This leads to the employee being confused or, as I say, not picking up what you’re putting down.

The quickest way to improvement is through respectful, yet direct and unfiltered feedback. With the best of intentions behind you, take a genuine approach that your feedback is helping them. They can only improve if you are upfront about it, so don’t dance around the issue.

  1. Ask coaching questions

How can I help you? What do you need from me? What do you see as your development priorities for the next quarter?

  1. Invite them to experience various elements of the senior role

There might be an opportunity to sit in or assist with the recruiting process for that team, participate in stakeholder meetings, additional formal training or offering a short-term secondment.

If organisations can improve the way they nurture key-talent, they will foster a culture of brilliance in their leadership, exceptional employee engagement and outstanding product and service delivery.