Tag Archive: top talent

Manufacturers Upbeat but Worry About Skills Gap

March 15th, 2017

According to Industry Week, the Fed’s survey of the economy expressed optimism; however, it also noted that labor markets are tightening. Since I’m also embarking on refreshing my 2013 Skills Gap research report, thus far, I’ve noted the same concerns for high-skilled positions.

I hear far less conversation about lower-skilled positions when it comes to availability (instead I hear about minimum wage concerns); however, the vast majority of my clients require higher-skilled positions. In these cases, it is not always easy — or even attainable — to find the resources needed on a timely basis. What are you doing to get ahead of this curve?

skilled workers

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

As we’ve discussed previously, if nothing else, manufacturing is in the news on a daily basis. There is a buzz! And, companies are promoting when they make a decision to source in the U.S. Additionally, regardless of policy changes (taxes, regulation, border tariffs), manufacturing was already coming back to the U.S. and nearby geographies (near-sourcing) because the total cost of non-commodity products is coming into closer alignment AND customers are demanding rapid deliveries, customization and flexibility. Lastly, automation and technology are on the rise; thus, high-skilled positions are in demand!

To thrive in this new world, we must get ahead of this curve. Finding, retaining and developing top talent must become a strategic priority. There are plenty of ways to achieve ALL THREE. Focusing on 1 without the others will no longer be sufficient. Those who pursue innovation, strategic partnerships, alliances and programs will be the ones to succeed. Get your head out of the sand, get your team together and take action if you want to be one with the resources to thrive in 2020.


Employee Performance: Do Not Ignore Your Stars

October 2nd, 2014
human capital investment

Identify and focus on how to nurture your higher performing employees to net a better return on your human capital investment.

Since the beginning of 2014, the job market has been robust and employers are struggling to find high-skilled, qualified candidates for key positions. I’ve talked frequently about this skills gap and performed research on the topic as I am convinced that those who get ahead of the skills gap will thrive and leave the rest in the dust. Join me at APICS 2014 to hear more about my research findings and strategies for success.

One key component to succeeding while others continue to struggle with the skills gap is to retain top talent. I cannot tell you how often employee performance is overlooked at my clients and in organizations across the globe. My estimate is that 80% of companies under appreciate their top talent. Thus, why is it any surprise when top talent heads for the doors?

Luckily this problem is resolvable.  If you follow a few key steps, you will be far more likely to KEEP your stars. 1) Take stock of your talent. 2) Focus on leadership. 3) Address poor performers.

1. Take stock of your talent: Get off the daily treadmill for a “talent strategy session”. If you do not prioritize your people, how do you expect to drive growth and profit?  Set aside the time and gather up your management team. Go through your talent. How do you identify your top talent? Some might seem obvious. Although it’s a start, it is not enough. Look for your “hidden treasures”.  Who consistently gains results and comes up with new ideas?  Don’t look in the obvious areas as I find top talent is often overlooked.  Think about who you would struggle without.  Oddly enough, think about who might annoy you by bringing up potential roadblocks.  Your stars are thinking 5 steps ahead and it might not make them popular. In my experience, the first time leaders realize a top talent has left is when what seemed to be easy and “just happen” no longer occurs. Don’t wait that long!

Once you identify your top talent, take stock of their employee performance. What is important to them? What do they value? How likely are they to consider the “perfect job” if a recruiter happened to call tomorrow? Trust me, a recruiter will eventually find them or they will get frustrated and explore opportunities.

2. Focus on leadership:  Next, go back to basics. People do not stay for the money. The lack of money is a demotivator; however, money is not a motivator. So, why do they stay?  I often work with these stars as they are vital to achieving project results, and so I listen up!  In essence, once your star is being paid in alignment with the salary range for the job, leadership will make or break your success.

Do your leaders seem to appreciate their hard work AND results? Or, are they caught up in whoever “kisses up” to the boss? Your stars will know. Do your leaders ask for input and feedback? Is it a give-and-take conversation?  Listening alone is worse than not listening. Stars want to know their thoughts are not only heard but that they are incorporated into a plan or that they learn what could be improved for next time. Learning opportunities and challenging environments are a must.

Do you provide opportunities for advancement?  For an outsider like me, it can get to be humorous (if I wasn’t so frustrated) – sometimes, we overlook obvious steps. Find out what they do and have done in the past. For example, one client thought giving a star a new challenge would make up for the lack of advancement; however, they didn’t bother to figure out that she had already done that job in the past and found it less challenging than the one she was in!

A simple way to consider whether you are focusing enough on your stars is to think about where you spend the majority of your time: with your non-performers or with your high performers?  What other ways can you monitor employee performance?

3. Address poor performers:  Last but not least, you must address non-performers. There is nothing worse than seeing a non-performer carry on for a star. They want to know that what they are doing is a value-add.  If an obvious non-performer is ignored, it signifies that it is OK to be a poor performer.  Perhaps high performers aren’t even valued…

I would bet significant money that if executives found their true stars and focused half the energy on their stars as they do on fire fighting, they would be wildly successful. Why not give it a shot?

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 Develop a Talent Edge

Critical Priority–Retaining Top Talent


Retaining Top Talent – a Must for Success

October 22nd, 2013
Perception is reality and underappreciated employees move onto other oppotunities .

Perception is reality and underappreciated employees move onto other oppotunities .

Retaining top talent should always be a priority for supply chain management; however, in today’s market, losing even one top player, especially a project manager, can make the difference between success and failure.

Since the recession, employers have expected logistics employees to be generalists. In essence, employees at all levels in an organization are expected to wear multiple hats seamlessly. At the same time, people are getting tired. In some cases, they’ve worked for years with minimal or no pay increases while expanding their responsibilities. Although they might be appreciated, often times, they do not know it.

Perception is reality. Therefore, I’ve seen a trend in my business consulting clients, and in my networks of folks beginning to change jobs. This is creating a panic as they leave huge gaps in their wake.

For example, at one of my clients, an entire department left the company over the course of 6 months. That might be considered a black hole! On the other hand, I know of folks in my networks who get job queries frequently who are committed and stay the course.

Let’s guess which companies those are? The ones that have performance management systems in place with leaders who collaborate on goals, appreciate employees, provide challenges, address the roadblocks (even the unpleasant ones), etc. Interestingly, those who have managers who are willing to provide constructive feedback and address problem employees are much more likely to stay than those who steer clear of the conflicts.

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Critical Priority: Retaining Top Talent.

Critical Priority – Retaining Top Talent

August 22nd, 2013
LMA Consulting, Critical Priority – Retaining Top Talent

Attracting and retaining talent is critical to your success.

I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve heard different Executives/ businesses lament over two polar opposites on the same day:  1) We have to cut back immediately (which typically begins with people) , 2)  We cannot find the appropriate talent to perform a critical role. How can this be?

Unemployment remains high; however, employers also struggle in finding the appropriate talent to fill key roles. According to a May 2009 survey conducted by Oracle, Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, 51% of the responding companies reported moderate to serious shortages of skilled production workers and 36% reported similar shortages of engineers and scientists. My guess is the numbers are even higher now!

Of course, I have a perspective on this paradox. First, according to Executive Recruiters, it is actually harder to find top talent during a recession because people are less likely to change jobs (and most roles are filled by the 90% employed workforce). Second, the types of skills required for the available jobs require a higher level of specialized technical training than what is typically available. Third, a significant portion of the workforce is considering retirement when laid off (the baby boomers), and there is significant knowledge tied up with them. Thus – our paradox. To potentially make matters worse, there are many top performers who are waiting for the job market to improve to jump ship to better opportunities or to companies who appreciate their skills.

Although a comprehensive effort is required to address this situation effectively so that your company or department is one of the few positioned for success, focusing on retaining top talent is undoubtedly a great place to start. And it’s likely that you are more at risk than you think – so what should you do? 1) Flip the typical situation upside down. 2) Address non-performers. 3) Ensure frequent communications.

  1. Flip the typical situation upside down. Instead of focusing most of your energy on the issues and non-performers, focus the majority of your effort on your top talent. It sounds easy but is far from easy to implement. Yet this one simple rule can make all the difference in the world!The idea is to focus your efforts on those who drive your department and/or company’s results. What roadblocks are they facing? Do they understand the company’s goals and priorities? How about the value they contribute to achieving these goals? And the value of their leadership? If not, you are missing a huge opportunity – in my experience working across multiple industries and globally, your top performers are the 80/20 of your results. When the situation is vital, who do you go to? Why wouldn’t you focus there?
  2. Address non-performers. One of the best incentives for a top performer (assuming they are paid within reason for the role based on the market) is addressing non-performers (at a minimum, not rewarding nonperformance – yes, surprisingly, it occurs all the time). Interesting and absolutely true. What better proof that performance is valued! And, for a top performer, what better way to validate that the company understands what’s required and is on track to succeed?
  3. Ensure frequent communications. Although this sounds like suggesting motherhood and apple pie, it is often overlooked – and not nearly as easy as it sounds. My most successful clients are those who spend the majority of their time clarifying goals (and why they matter), explaining how each person can contribute to them, and providing continual feedback – positive, constructive, and always immediate.I often hear push back on this process – “we are too busy with critical customers, projects etc.”; however, how will we ever resolve these topics without the focus of our top talent? Surely spending 5-30 minutes on your most valuable resource is doable!

If you are the one to retain top talent as the recovery spreads, you will not only have the opportunity to surpass your competition but you will likely attract other top talent – what could be better to position your department and /or company to be the market leader?