The battle against Covid has mutated into a revolutionary war between leadership and the workforce. Many view the workforce exodus as a Talent War or call it the Great Resignation, but they’re only looking at the symptom—people quitting their jobs.  

It’s a reaction to a much deeper problem. 

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise. - Shannon L. Alder.
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

A Talent War speaks to the shortage of available talent and the competition in the marketplace to hire the skilled workers needed. This isn’t new. The problem existed before Covid. Sure, we had attrition, but the problem then was hiring enough additional workers.  

What’s different now is a massive number of people walking out the front door with fewer, less qualified coming in. It’s 2019 on steroids. Leaders feel like the proverbial boy with his finger in the dyke trying to hold back the tidal wave of exiting employees. We can’t plug the holes, let alone expand our organizations. 

What we’re really talking about is a Revolutionary War. The revolution is the change in priorities and values of the new post-Covid workforce. They are vocal in their demands on leadership. Their message is, accommodate – or else.  

So how do we call a cease-fire to this War and stem the flow of AWOL talent? 

The first step in calling a cease fire to the Talent War is to Locate the Frontline. 

Karen M. Pierce

We first need to identify the hottest point of the talent war. Do you know what is causing the conflict in your organization?

“The first step in calling a cease-fire to the Talent War is Locating the Frontline.” ~ Karen M. Pierce

If employees are walking out your virtual door, you don’t. 

If your company is like most, leadership’s focus post-Covid was work location, and you surveyed your employees for their preferences. Then a small, elite committee reviewed the results and distributed the edict without communicating WHY. Your employees rejected the new policy interpreting the decision as a total disregard for them and their needs. Furthermore, the secretive process bred further distrust in management. They drew the front line.  

You can’t identify the issues at work in your organization unless you are willing to get your ears dirty.

  • Listen. Ask. Then listen some more. Talk to people with power and knowledge, influencers in your organization, not just those with titles. 
  • Communicate your findings and be brutally honest. Share the results with everyone and open discussion by holding regular All-Hands meetings. Take questions and feedback seriously and without defense.   
  • Make senior leadership visible and involved with smaller groups at all levels to go deeper.  
  • After you’ve met with at least a substantial representation of the various departments and position levels in your company, hold a follow-up meeting with each to share what you’ve learned.   
  • Don’t underestimate the power of reconnecting.  

Calling a cease-fire in the Talent War takes intentional action and locate the frontline.

You must start here. If you’re trying to find a solution to ending the Talent War, you can’t continue looking at the problem through an old pair of lenses. You have to see this War for what it really is and locating the frontline is the first step to a cease-fire that will last. 

Next week, we will discuss the second step to the solution to calling a cease-fire. Until then, if you would like some help pinpointing the battle that’s raging within your organization, you can ask your direct reports these questions to call a halt to the strife and start working together.