In our last article, we discussed the Talent War and its impact on organizations in today’s post-COVID climate. We discussed the reality of the Great Resignation and how it’s a much deeper issue than what most are assuming.  

As a result, the workforce is placing demands on employers and if they aren’t meant, they are walking out without hesitation. The tables have turned. No longer do they “need you” as much as “you need them”.  

Thus, it’s time to look at the next step in calling a cease-fire in the Talent War. After locating the frontline, you must have a plan.

Once You’ve Located the Frontline, It’s Time to: Describe the Battle Action 

In these conversations, seek out personal stories like a war correspondent. You need to understand what the battle looks like on an individual level, not from your 30,000-foot perspective.   

Uncover the experiences, people, and behaviors that affect your people’s ability to succeed, feel valued, and belong.

Feel valued and belong.  

You probably just read right over that. But it’s the reason your employees are going AWOL.  

They want to work for a boss who not only cares about what they can produce but values how they work best, and gives them an identity, a sense of belonging, and purpose. Not just a paycheck.   

Employees want a relationship, not a transaction. 

Karen M. Pierce
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

If these needs aren’t met, employees disengage. They believe they earned your trust to perform post-Covid as well as they did through Covid (under the worst of conditions).  

If that kind of effort and allegiance doesn’t matter, why stay?  

Be careful. Just because someone hasn’t quit their job, don’t assume they don’t want to. One reason your talent is still with you is the fear of not finding another job. Fear of putting themselves and their families at risk through unhealthy contact at work. Fear of what protecting themselves might mean to their own health. 

When calling a cease-fire in the Talent War, you have to be willing to provide direction.

But providing direction and hope through times of fear and uncertainty is the primary role of leadership. And the battle of vaccination mandates is an excellent example of a challenge that stretched even the most seasoned leaders. 

Acknowledging the legitimacy of arguments on both sides of the vaccination mandate issue, it is fascinating how it has grouped, labeled, and penalized people. Your label determines your privileges and penalties: pay higher insurance premiums, lose lunchroom access, provide on-demand proof of negative test results, or be forced to choose between feeding your families or your health.   

This issue alone has caused many to quit or compromise their principles to keep their job. How included and valued do you believe those that stayed feel? 

Imagine for a minute that instead of this being a vaccination issue, it was about skin color. Would we treat people of color, over 55, or females like the unvaxxed? 

Don’t get me wrong, the vaccination debate is one that creates division, and granted, the issue is far more complex than what I outlined here. The point is to illustrate the difficult decisions leaders must make that can often label or segregate certain groups. The key is that if we ignore what’s happening within our walls regarding this issue, then we miss the opportunity to meet it head-on.   

What groups and labels have formed in your organization? Take the initiative to identify departments that don’t work well together, leaders that secure their empire at the expense of others, or a class system amongst your ranks that undermine the sense of value and belonging. This is a must if you’re going to win the talent war.

Seek and destroy.   

Your role now is to unify. 

Win the talent war by giving your people a purpose.

Taking the time to describe the battle action will take intentional effort, but this effort will go a long way. When your employees see you engaging and humanizing your relationship with them, they will begin to see things through a different light.  

You’ll begin to see a shift from defensiveness to openness. That is, if you’re being real and authentic and, yes, vulnerable. The key, however, is that they must see it in you first.  

Next week, we will discuss the third phase of the solution to calling a cease-fire. We will discuss the next bold action you need to take to save your organization.  

If you haven’t yet, take the time this week to ask your direct reports these questions to call a halt to the strife and start working together. Until next time.

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