Your employees: two tips and a mindset shift

Photo of multicolored chess pawns scattered randomlyEmployees – can’t live with them, can’t live without them, right? Ha.

Almost everyone I’ve spoken with recently has said they’re dealing with a higher-than-usual turnover rate (i.e., the Great Resignation), or they’re struggling to hire. Or both.

It’s Yet Another Stress Factor in an already really difficult time.

And I encourage you to recognize, even in the midst of the madness, that there are two important opportunities here.

First, though, a mindset shift: these aren’t just “employees” or “staff” or “resources” or “talent” or even “assets.”

They’re people. Individuals.

When we’re stressed and frazzled and overwhelmed, it’s hard to think about anything or anyone other than ourselves. I get that.

But if you want to navigate through this, not merely effectively, but well – then you need to remember that every employee, every staff member, is an individual person.

That said, I promised you two important opportunities.

Opportunity #1: pay attention to who’s staying

Have you ever been annoyed by a company that promises great rewards for new customers whilst ignoring their current customers (i.e., YOU)?

It’s seriously frustrating, right?

Well, consider that from the perspective of the employees – excuse me, people – who are sticking around.

If you’re busy trying to retain the ones who are quitting, or brainstorming with HR on how to find qualified new hires to fill those suddenly-open positions … you may be overlooking the talent – excuse me, people – right in front of you.

This is an opportunity to recognize performance, to promote, to develop, to train. Encourage people to step up, to engage, to help out in these difficult times.

At the very least, the tiniest minimum, acknowledge them for being the ones who are staying.

Opportunity #2: hire for culture add, not culture fit

Hiring for “culture fit” has been the gold standard for a long, long time. Does the candidate – the person – share our values? Will they assimilate into the team? Do we (argh) like them?

As I wrote on LinkedIn the other day – you might be happy to hire little green aliens, as long as they’re a “culture fit.”

If so, you’re accomplishing diversity in some (certainly important) ways, but you’re missing the boat on new ideas, creative thinking, challenging discussions, and innovative potential.

Because when you hire only, or primarily for culture fit, you’re just hiring more of what you already have. And as the saying goes, what got you here won’t get you there.

The tendency to hire “more people like us” is strong. As humans, we like “people like us,” and we tend not to be all that comfortable with people who aren’t “like us.”

But as General George Patton said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” And hiring for culture fit means hiring people who think like us.

You don’t build high-performing teams when everyone thinks alike. You don’t innovate when everyone thinks alike. You don’t solve big problems when everyone thinks alike.

So if you need to hire – think about what’s missing in your culture, and how someone might be a great addition, instead of merely a great fit. Don’t overlook values and general working style, of course (you don’t want someone who can’t cope – for instance – with a super-fast-paced environment). But do extend yourself enough to welcome some difference!


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gljudson Strategic thinking