It’s become a popular belief that COVID is the catalyst of this talent war, or what is being called the Great Resignation. However, as we’ve discussed in our last two articles, “When Talent Goes AWOL: Calling a cease-fire to the Talent War” and “When Talent Goes AWOL: The next step in calling a Cease-Fire in the Talent War”, there is much more to it than COVID alone. If you haven’t read our first two articles in this series, please take the time to do so now.  

There has been a war raging between the employer and the employee for decades. The difference, however, is that COVID leveled the battlefield. Now, employees have the upper hand, and they know it, leaving your organization understaffed. What’s more, the staff you do have is undertrained, leaving you to promote people within your company that isn’t ready to fill the positions they’re being placed in.  

If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values, they're hobbies.
“If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values, they’re hobbies.” ~ Jon Stewart

We’ve covered all this in detail already, however. You know the war you’re fighting. The key is taking the right steps to call a cease-fire and working toward a resolution. First, we discussed the need to Locate the Frontline. Here, we discussed the need to open your ears and listen to those working for you.  

Then, we identified Describing the Battle Action as the next step in the process. This is the part that requires you to get up close and personal to the battle that’s being fought.

However, we’re not asking you to look at it from your perspective anymore, but to talk to those who work for you and learn how they are personally affected by this war.  

Now, it’s time to look at the third step in the process. We identified this as “Flying a New Flag.” 

Be bold as a leader and fly a new flag.

Karen M. Pierce

Most conflicts center around a surface issue that belies the real issue at stake. A superficial response won’t solve those problems.  For a cease-fire to work, there must be a shared value or goal that brings both sides together. 

For example, salary increases as a response to employee unrest will satisfy only for a time. Soon after the first paycheck hits the bank, it ceases to be satisfying because the real issue still exists. If employees distrust management, the salary bump feels impersonal and insufficient. The boss is still a bully, the workload is beyond human capability, and the stress is unbearable. A few more dollars in the bank doesn’t anesthetize 40+ hours a week of misery. 

A superficial response won't solve your problems.
A superficial response won’t solve your problems.

No, you need to go deeper. 

The quick and easy answer to keep people in your company is to deal with the top-level issue – like a pay hike. What is important now is to use the information you gathered about the battle to determine where you can agree. Identify what is most important at the base level. What can both sides rally around? And finally, the big question. 

What risks are you willing to take when your talent goes AWOL? 

The intensity of the issue determines the risk you must take to come together stronger and more unified. Your response defines WHO you want to be as a leader and WHO you want to be as a company. This identity is what your people will rally around. 

This is powerful. 

Communication is the real key to your company's success
Communication is the real key to your company’s success.

If you’re willing to be bold and fly a new flag that your people are eager to rally around, you take a big step towards peace. Your organization will begin to gain loyalty and trust, but you can’t be fake here. This must be a genuine movement.  

If you’re willing to be genuine in your actions in this phase of the cease-fire, the next and final step in the process will be that much easier.  

Next week, we will discuss how you can rally your troops and bring peace to your organization once and for all. In the meantime, 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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