Podcast: Leadership Amplitude Episode 18

Each phase of the employee life cycle plays a major role in your organization's talent management strategy.

The Employee Life Cycle

Anna Slaydon sits down with Bev Wise and Ramonda Kyser to discuss the six critical parts of the employee life cycle talent management strategy: attraction, recruiting, on-boarding, developing, retaining and transitioning.


Anna Slaydon: In a competitive environment, leaders can no longer afford to ignore their talent management strategy. Proactivity is required. But what exactly does that proactive strategy look like? We continue with Bev Wise and Ramonda Kyser to learn more.

Bev Wise: So we mentioned in the last podcast about the employee life cycle talent management strategy. Now that sounds, again, like a long buzzword. But think of it in terms of an employee life cycle. And there's really six parts that we focus in on.

Ramonda Kyser: Digestible for our clients.

Bev Wise: Oh, amen to that.

Ramonda Kyser: When we do the consulting, we do it in digestible parts or segments so that it's not cumbersome or overwhelming.

Bev Wise: Absolutely, and that it makes sense. That's it's an easy strategy to latch onto because it's a natural fit. So, what it would—

Ramonda Kyser: It's what you need.

Bev Wise: And, it's what the employee life cycle is. Well, think in terms of how do you actually attract the people that you need, the talent that you need? How do you go about recruiting them? Anna, you were mentioning in the last segment that the whole change in the way you go about finding talent; you know, 10, 15 years ago you'd advertise in the local newspaper. Now, it's all about the Internet and the different types of search engines that are out there, and—

Ramonda Kyser: Yeah. What are your employees or former employees even saying about you?

Bev Wise: Absolutely.

Ramonda Kyser: Helps to drive talent.

Bev Wise: Absolutely. So it's a different world. But how do you go about attracting? How do you go about recruiting? So attraction is the first stage of the employee life cycle. Recruiting that talent into the organization is the second stage. Then it's on-boarding. How do you bring them on board to the organization so that they can hit the ground running and start?

Ramonda Kyser: And fit with the culture.

Bev Wise: Exactly.

Ramonda Kyser:  Which is, I think, a missing piece. I'm sorry. [Laughter]

Bev Wise: No. that's okay.

Ramonda Kyser: Which is a missing piece sometimes because we get these great employees, but we don't onboard them effectively or properly, and they feel like they're lost in a big ocean.

Bev Wise: Absolutely. I want to really spend some time focusing on on-boarding because there are simple things that an organization can do to make a difference.

Ramonda Kyser: Huge differences.

Bev Wise: Absolutely.

Anna Slaydon: I'm thrilled to hear more about that because, you know, I've changed positions several times and been in banking now almost 20 years, and I just go into a job now assuming that for the first six months I'm going to hate it and I'm going to want to quit the whole time. That wasn't my experience here at The BB&T Leadership Institute, or with BB&T, but that was just eye-opening when I came here and it was like it doesn't have to be this way, as it turns out.

Ramonda Kyser: It doesn't. Not at all.

Bev Wise: No. you can really be made to feel welcome. If an organization has done a good job figuring out who they are, and then go for that fit to the organization, both in the job that's open, that talent that you need, and that cultural fit; then on-boarding doesn't have to be complicated and doesn't have to take a long time.

So then the fourth area of the employee life cycle strategy is development. How do you go about continuing to develop your employees? Learning is important for people, especially in this day and age. And so how do you go about continuing to provide opportunities? It doesn't even have to always be formal training sessions. Just how do you inspire them to learn? How do you give them new projects or new types of work that keep things interesting for people?

Ramonda Kyser: And that stretches them. Part of that development isn't just keeping people in what the skills that they were hired for, what they bring to the table. But also stretching, putting them in a little stretch phase of what other skills can they develop?

Bev Wise: Absolutely. Which is important, as well. And then we go over to the whole retention idea. And in that, we'll talk a bit about engagement, employee engagement. So how do you retain, once you've invested in the whole process of attracting, recruiting, on-boarding and developing the talent, how do you make sure you retain them within the organization?

And then last, but not least, and Ramonda had mentioned this earlier, is the transitioning. How do you gracefully—and I love that word, gracefully. How do you gracefully exit them from the organization? Whether it's them deciding that they want to leave, through giving a two-week resignation notice, or through retirement; how do you make sure that you keep that door open for if they ever want to come back, or if they want to stay with you on a part-time basis.

Ramonda Kyser: Or if they want to refer people.

Bev Wise: Absolutely.

Ramonda Kyser: Some of our best referrals for candidates come from our previous talent.

Bev Wise: Our own employees.

Ramonda Kyser: Mm-hmm.

Bev Wise: Yeah. Absolutely. So that's really the six stages: the attraction, recruiting, on-boarding, developing, retaining, and transitioning.

Anna Slaydon: Let's take a step down deeper. Tell me more about attracting.

Bev Wise: Okay. Ramonda and I will both attack this, but here are just questions that you can be asking as an employer through those answers, it really can help give you clues as to how you can go about positioning yourself as an employer. So, simply who are you as a company? What's your mission? What's your vision? What's your purpose? What are those things most organizations work on those components, because they work on their business strategy coming from that mission, vision and purpose.

Ramonda Kyser: What are the things that you're proud about as the employer that set you apart from other companies that you want people to be proud, to come work for you?

Bev Wise: That's a great point. What are some of the legends and stories about how did you start? How was your company founded? How did it get to where it is today?

Ramonda Kyser: How is it a community partner?

Bev Wise: Oh, that's excellent.

Ramonda Kyser: A lot of times, people will have that proposition of here's what we do in our community that helps us attract the right talent.

Bev Wise: Why would people want to come and work for you? What do you offer? And again, we're not just talking about salary and benefits, but the kind of work environment they would be coming into.

Ramonda Kyser: People just want to find meaningful work, and that meaning connects them with the right employers. Then you have a great fit.

Bev Wise: You know, almost every time that surveys are done—there was a Kenneth Kovach survey done years ago about, they listed ten different aspects of work satisfiers. And they asked, first of all, for the supervisors to rate them from 1 to 10 with 1 being the thing that they felt was going to be most important to their employees, and then 2, the second most important, 3 third most important, on down to 10.

And then they had those employees of those supervisors rate the same ten. And almost in every survey, the supervisors rated pay as what they thought would be the most important thing to their employees. The employees rating the same ten items rated interesting work as the number one item that they felt was most important for them to feel a sense of satisfaction with their work.

Anna Slaydon: Oh, wow.

Bev Wise: So all those types of questions: what's your purpose, the reason you're in business? How are things done around your company? What are your values? Can they grow and learn? What are some growth opportunities that they might have? What are things that they can learn?

Anna Slaydon: Tell me about the recruiting stage.

Bev Wise: Okay. That has become definitely a more technologically [Laughter] geared type of stage than it used to be. So the recruiting part is really looking at what is the job that you have available, or what is the talent need that you have? And making sure that you're very clear on the aspects of the job that you want someone to do. First of all, the responsibilities. People want to know what is it that's going to be expected of them. Who is it they're going to report to? Where it is the job is going to be located? And certainly they're going to want to know at some point in time what's the salary associated with it and what are the benefits?

Ramonda Kyser: What is expected? Basically it boils down what's going to be expected of me? How will I know that I'm doing something well?

Bev Wise: Yeah. How can I be successful in the job?

Anna Slaydon: Right.

Bev Wise: So what is the knowledge that's required? What are the skills that are required? What are the abilities? What's the experience that's required? Because that also helps you in determining how to screen resumes and things that come in the door.

Anna Slaydon: So that really sounds like it needs to be defined before you even see your first candidate.

Bev Wise: Yeah. And I would even take a step back from that. I used to always say to managers when they'd have an opening in their staff, whether it was an addition to staff or whether it was someone had left the organization, “It's a great time to take a step backward and say, okay, this opening is an opportunity. It's an opportunity for me to look at my existing team and the work that I now have to do.” Because we all know things are changing all the time.

Ramonda Kyser: All the time. [Laughter] Change is inevitable.

Bev Wise: So even if you've had a person onboard for just a year or two and they leave the organization, in that year or two, the work that your unit is expected to do may have shifted or changed. So that taking that step back and saying, “Okay. What do I need to produce out of my unit? What's the talent that I have onboard now?” Because everybody brings different things to the table.

Ramonda Kyser: It really requires the manager of that team or business unit to be strategic and visionary, so that they can see things 18 months down the road. My business unit is shifting, and I need to be prepared with new talent to be able to do X, Y and Z.

Bev Wise: Absolutely. So wherever you can be communicative to your management team about the way the business is shifting and how you see things—

Ramonda Kyser: And getting that input from stakeholders, and making sure that people are hearing your message so that you get that buy-in.

Bev Wise: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so that's the kind of intelligence you take. You look at your own organization strategies. You look at your own business plans. And it can be as simple—it doesn't have to—if you don't have a business plan, it can be as simple as what's my unit expected to produce in this next year? What do I have to bring to the table? And what talent do I have? Am I behind schedule in producing that? What do I need to bring in in order to supplement those goals being accomplished?

And that's where recruiting starts. So the attraction stage really starts broadly at the company level. What are we as a company? Who are we as a company? And then the recruiting goes more down to what specific talent do I need at this moment in time?

Ramonda Kyser: Where are my gaps?

Bev Wise: Yes. Where are my gaps? And then, of course, you use the different vehicles that you can reach out to, whether it's online recruiting, maybe through your website you post jobs.

Ramonda Kyser: University recruitment.

Bev Wise: Exactly. Local trade associations. Again, exploring those avenues where you could get talent that would fit into your organization. So that's really, that's that recruiting stage.

Anna Slaydon: Just thinking through that idea, it's really, I think, resounding with me because I know there's a temptation when you have an FTE position available to just rush to fill it, particularly if it's not a newly-formed position; it was something that was vacated. Because there's work now that is not being done. And so it's like get the person in here that can get up and running the fastest.

But it sounds like what you're suggesting is take a breath and think about your team more as an organism and what do you need to supplement their existing strengths, their existing abilities to get you to your goals. Because the person who might be able to get you up and running and get the short-term gains may not be the same person as the person who can make the long-term gains, stay and really excel in the position.

Bev Wise: Absolutely.

Ramonda Kyser: Absolutely.

Bev Wise: Yeah. And that pain of having that open position and not getting current work done, it's a real thing. And I know it's such a temptation, then, to just try to go out and get a body to fill that, that immediate need. But it can be very short-sighted, depending on what it is that you're trying to accomplish.

Ramonda Kyser: And it's short-sighted for not just the organization, because in the long term, the organization isn't getting their need met because the skill might not be there with that warm body. And what a disservice you're doing to that employee.

Bev Wise: That's a really good point.

Ramonda Kyser: Who has, let's say for most practical purposes, and are excited to be in your organization. And they're in a position that as the manager, well, you knew 70 percent they'd be okay. But there's a 30 or 40 percent gap that they're going to have. If we haven't done the right things to prepare for that gap, we've done that employee now a disservice. And they will be miserable and disengaged.

Bev Wise: Yeah. Because they'll feel almost from the get-go that they're not living up to expectations.

Ramonda Kyser: Right.

Bev Wise: Yeah.

Ramonda Kyser: So it's very careful not to put just any warm body in a position just because it's open. We gotta put the right warm body. [Laughter]

Bev Wise: [Laughter]

Anna Slaydon: Yeah. And not just from a viewpoint of what do I need now? But what do I need tomorrow, and next year?

Bev Wise: Right.

Anna Slaydon: So we've talked about attracting and we talked about recruiting. Let's take a break right here and let's talk about, for our listeners, who are maybe really connecting with this, what are some questions that you would recommend that they sit down and maybe think through to find for themselves to get the most out of this?

Ramonda Kyser: We would like for our listeners to ask themselves the questions: what am I doing right now in my organization to understand my talent gaps?

Bev Wise: Yeah. And do we have an employment brand to attract qualified talent? And what is it? What is it that we offer that maybe unique to the marketplace, if we do have that employment brand?

Ramonda Kyser: And how do we use our global brand to attract talent? You know, if I have, whether I'm global, or I'm regional, or I'm in a small community that's been there for 50, 60 years; how do I leverage my reputation and my brand to attract talent?

Bev Wise: Absolutely. And what kind of strategies and tactics do we employ to actively recruit talent to our organization? Is it working currently? If so, how do we strengthen and expand it? If not, what do we need to do to change in order to make us more effective in being able to recruit talent into the organization?

And the other thing I would also mention is what are we doing to help our managers with interviewing skills, so that they know how to sort through folks that are telling them what they want to hear, versus people who really have that knowledge, the knowledge, the skills, the abilities to do the job that you have on hand?

Ramonda Kyser: Looking for the right behaviors.

Bev Wise: Exactly. Kind of that whole behavioral interviewing.

Ramonda Kyser: Right.

Bev Wise:  Because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So, getting to those examples of the kinds of things that the employees have done, either in their current position or in past positions that would replicate well in the opening that you have currently.

Ramonda Kyser: And Bev, I want to just piggyback on one thing that you said about strategies. You know, if we find something that's not working, we can stop and change it. A lot of times, what I've found is our companies don't stop, and they keep pushing the current strategy that they have, and it takes some awareness as an organization that we have to slow down. And what we've done in the past isn't want always is going to work for us in our present day or in our future. And maybe it's time for us to change our model.

Bev Wise: Yeah. That whole definition of insanity.

Ramonda Kyser: Yes.

Bev Wise: We're continuing to do what we've always done and expect a different outcome.

Ramonda Kyser: Yes.

Bev Wise: So, yeah, if you're not getting the results that you want out of recruiting, or when you go to hire talent, then what do you need to do differently in order to get the results that you need?

Anna Slaydon: With that in mind, let's—and I know we're going to jump into some other areas in future episodes to dive down deeper. But let's say that our audience member is going through these questions, thinking about what, you know, Ramonda, you just touched on. And they're saying, "We have a huge problem, and I can't wait for the next podcast to address it. We have to tackle this right now, because this is just a huge need for us." What do they do?

Ramonda Kyser: You can call us. You can e-mail us. You can come by if you're local. Our consultants will get to know your problem, and it becomes our problem. And we start to understand your business and the nuances of your business and your strategy, so that we can prescribe the best solution for your talent management needs.

Anna Slaydon: We've all been there. We find that right candidate for the job, but they either don't show up for the first day of work, or they quit within the first year. In our next episode, we'll be talking to Bev and Ramonda about what can be done to properly onboard your top talent to make sure they stay a valuable member of your team.

For show notes, or for additional information, please visit us at BBTLeadershipInstitute.com. Leadership Amplitude is a podcast production of The BB&T Leadership Institute, all rights reserved.

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