Holding on to Your Star Players

As we start the Olympic Games in London this week wondering who will be the gold medal winners it seems timely to think about organisations and how they should focus on their own top players.  After all, high performers are the ones most likely to have other options.

Talent management programmes don’t have to be all inclusive or, at the other extreme, open to just a handful of highly able employees.  It is possible to have a hybrid approach where all staff members have access to excellent development opportunities and any retention benefits, while star performers are rewarded with greater performance incentives and wider career options.

So what can you do to hold on to your talented staff?   Studies by McKinsey and other managing consultancy outfits suggest there are five aspects you should consider to retain talented performers:

1.   Identify high performers

♠  Identify criteria to select this group from amongst your staff members.[1]

♠  Get wide organisational agreement as to what constitutes high performance by using your competency framework or focus groups to identify the skills and behaviours of high performers

2.   Set and communicate expectations

♠  Set career and reward expectations to keep high performers engaged

♠  Deliver consistent messages about performance expectations from all levels of management

3.   Be clear on what is different for high performers

♠  Give a clearly differentiated offer for this group such as

– a faster career trajectory

– a more generous reward package, providing high performance is maintained.

♠  Identify relevant secondment and sabbatical opportunities to refresh experience outside the organisation.

4.   Offer support

♠  Encourage regular access to senior leaders

♠  Provide a mentoring programme

5.   Define what success looks like

♠  Define what success will look like for each individual on the programme

♠  Define some qualitative measures such as “how engaged senior leaders are with high performers”

♠  Monitor attraction and retention figures regularly so you have facts to hand about the success of your talent management initiatives

In this recession it is even more imperative that your organisation makes sure that its good performers don’t take an athletic jump to another organisation.   It’s easy to neglect career development and recognition for excellent performance when the agenda is mainly about cutting costs and making roles redundant.

So if your organisation feels a long way from that prized 100m gold medal, there are a few simple things you can put in place to get you a few steps closer . . .


What’s the dress code?

Back in 2016, a secretary at the global accountancy firm, PWC, was sent home from work after refusing to wear high heels in line with the company’s dress code.  It was a much publicised case.

Now, the Government Equalities Office have released their latest guidance on the issue of workplace dress codes entitled “Dress codes and sex discrimination – what you need to know.

The guidance is a direct response to requests made earlier this year by both the Women and Equalities and Petitions Select Committees and provides best practice recommendations for enforcing dress code policies.

Amongst the main takeaways from the guidance is that whilst dress code policies remain lawful, they should not be constructed in a way that disadvantages one employee over another. Additionally, whilst dress codes for male and female employees do not have to be identical, the standards imposed should be equivalent and any less favourable treatment on account of gender runs the risk of direct discrimination. To mitigate the risk organisations are urged to avoid gender specific requirements altogether explaining that requiring female staff to wear high heels, make-up or have manicured nails is likely to be unlawful, providing there is no equivalent requirement for men.

Employers are also encouraged to consider if there is a valid business reason for enforcing a specific dress code and if this is truly required to achieve a legitimate business aim. For example, employers in formal settings who wish for their staff to dress smart can reasonably achieve this aim without requiring female employees to wear high heeled shoes.

In other notable points, the guidance recommends that dress codes should:

  • Not be a source of harassment at the hands of colleagues of customers
  • Take into account relevant health & safety requirements
  • Allow for reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010
  • Allow transgender staff to dress in line with their gender identity
  • Allow flexibility around religious symbols and jewellery

Whilst this guidance does little to alter the laws surrounding dress codes, organisations would be wise to consider its recommendations that many commonly enforced requirements either ‘could’ or ‘may’ be considered unlawful should a case ever be taken to an employment tribunal.  Moreover, this guidance adds further weight to the governments ongoing efforts to address workplace inequality which includes gender pay gap reporting and the promotion of shared parental leave.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss issues around dress code or talk about any challenges you are facing. We’d be delighted to help you.


Six ways leaders can rebuild trust in their organisations

Trust – or lack of it – is going to be a big issue moving into next year. The solution is that businesses need to choose the right leaders, ensure they walk the talk, and make them open to feedback from employees.

A recent CIPD report found there is a crisis of trust within companies – 37% of employees do not trust their senior managers, and 33% think trust between employees and senior management in their workplace is weak. This, said the CIPD, impacts negatively on engagement, performance and productivity.

It would be easy to blame this lack of trust entirely on the COVID crisis, with significant redundancies taking place and uncertainty for employees about whether they have a job or not.  But mistrust is contagious.  Looking at the public sphere there has been some fundamental breakdown of societal trust: MPs, newspapers, banks, and cover-ups such as Weinstein and Savile cases. This means that regardless of how well you are leading and managing, there’s a certain level of contagion coming in from outside.

Engendering trust at all levels of the organisation is a challenge.  While employees often tend to trust their immediate boss, that trust weakens the higher up you go. The relationship with the boss may be very good, but we need to do more at a senior level so that there are more visible and engaging leadership from the top.

So what are the six things you can do to redress the balance:-

1. Recognise that building trust takes hard work

Trust must be earned. It comes from conscious effort to walk your talk, keep your promises and align your behaviour with your values. Building trust is worth the effort because once trust is lost, it can be difficult to recover.

2. Be honest and supportive

Even when it’s difficult, tell the truth and not just what you think people want to hear. Understand what employees need to know and communicate facts while being considerate of their effort and sensitive to their feelings.

3. Listen attentively

Use a variety of feedback tools to ensure everyone has the chance for their voice to be heard. Engage in dialogue with employees, giving them the opportunity to ask questions, get answers, and voice concerns.

4. Be consistent

Consistently doing what you say you’ll do builds trust over time – it can’t be something you do only occasionally. Keeping commitments must be the essence of your behaviour, in all relationships, day after day and year after year.

5. Model the behaviour you seek in your team

Nothing speaks more loudly about the culture in an organisation than the leaders’ behaviour, which influences employee action and has the potential to drive their results. If you say ‘teamwork is important’, then you must reinforce the point by collaborating across teams and functions.

6. Build in accountability

When you and other leaders acknowledge your mistakes as well as successes, employees see you as credible and will follow your lead. You can encourage honest conversations and foster accountability by building in processes that become part of the culture, such as an evaluation of every project (positives, negatives, things to change) or a status report and next steps in each meeting agenda (tracking deadlines and milestones).


Are you creating a sustainable environmental future?

Following the warning this week from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the build-up to the forthcoming COP 26 climate change conference in Glasgow, what is your business or organisation doing to contribute to a sustainable environment, beyond having a recycling bin?

Human activity is cited as the main cause of climate change, and it is estimated that organisations contribute 17% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the UK in 2019.  This is mainly through their energy and resource use, transport and travel, waste management and supply chain.

As with many organisations, you may now have an environmental sustainability policy statement. This should explain clearly your organisation’s position on climate change, and be signed off by someone in a senior management role.  You may have already put some environmental sustainability steps in place and done some analysis around your strengths and weaknesses. Just as ‘diversity and inclusivity’ has become an expected part of the culture of organisations, so should environmental sustainability. Every action and decision taken in an organisation has an environmental impact.

On the people management side, you can also help embed environmental practices in specialist areas, such as leadership, recruitment and performance management.  For example:-

Leadership:  Show management’s commitment to environmental sustainability. The support and influence of your senior leaders to environmental sustainability is vital, if you are to engage your staff fully in tackling climate change in order to make an impact.

Recruitment:  Part of the selection process might include a candidate’s commitment to environmental issues and any initiatives they have introduced in previous organisations.    Job descriptions could include role-specific tasks or responsibilities relating to an aspect of environmental sustainability. For example, this might include all managers having responsibility for regularly measuring and reporting on the resource use in their area and taking actions to increase efficiency and reduce consumption and waste.

Performance Management:  Ensuring that individuals and teams can link specific personal objectives to the organisation’s overall mission and environmental strategy. It is necessary to outline the role of each individual in the organisation in terms of functions and responsibilities to ensure that performance management is successful.

If you would like to know more about senior management’s or HR’s role in making a sustainable environment future, please get in touch with Hafton by emailing us at info@haftonconsultancy.com.