Creating Your Unmistakable Talent Brand – It Starts with You

Part 1 – The Introduction
It seems like a no brainer that you should have an amazing talent brand and talent management strategy, right? But if it was so simple, then why isn’t the world full of addictive brands – the kind you would drop everything to work for, the ones you visualise having on your resume, and the ones you get jealous of your friends working at?

Simply put, great people work for great companies, and if you are an average organisation and have great people, I would make a calculated guess that those great people won’t be there that long. Why would they? Would you?

My approach to ‘talent appreciation’ is very simple and I write in a non-academic fashion as I believe that every one of us knows the answers (especially with 6,680,000 posts on Employer Branding, 36,500,000 on talent management and 489,000,000 on leadership). However, with the day to day rollercoaster of mergers, acquisitions, downsizing or ramping up, we can, at times, switch talent strategies to a “project” as opposed to an ongoing process, put our personal self development to one side and put all our focus into fire fighting. I’ve been there before and I’m sure many others have or are going through the same pains.

Creating an unmistakable talent brand strategy in organisations is something that leaders are required to really want, and not just because it is on the HR Objectives agenda, typed on your job description, or put down as a 2015 project.

My approach is purely to act as a gentle reminder and virtual coach to you and your teams with simple step by step ideas over the forthcoming weeks together with insights and case studies from around the globe of people just like us who are feeling the same pains but who are also making some serious gains. I am not going to go on overkill on statistics but will connect data with practical methods and reference points.

So many articles or workshops go straight into the essentials of how to build talent management strategies and strong brands but I am going to stop here and rewind right to the very beginning. Why? Simply because if what I am about to write is not actioned the right way, then you will fall down at first base and it’s something I have seen so many times.

Simply put, it’s all down to how much you as a leader really want it. When I say you, I am initially focusing on the CEO and the Leadership team, because this team will be the “Beatles” or “Rolling Stones” (or whatever band appeals to you!) of the organisation.

The CEO and leadership team are the ones who have the idea and the drive, and can stand up on stage and create their loyal addictive fan base – or in the case of this article, the fan base are their employees. These are the ones who are known as legends and who continue to sell music 20 years later!

However, on the flipside, other “bands” let fame go to their heads and forget their fans. Before you know it, they vanish into thin air with bad press and nothing in their bank accounts and get classed as “has beens”, and their one-time fans refuse to even listen to their songs anymore. They move on and find new bands to idolise!

An example? Consider this shocker in terms of a “band flopping” when employees at Thiess in Australia were made redundant by text – OUCH!! (more faux paus to follow in future editorials).

Creating an unmistakable talent brand strategy in organisations is something that leaders are required to really want, and not just because it is on the HR Objectives agenda, typed on your job description, or put down as a 2015 project. This is something that once you start, you can’t stop, nor do you want to stop. It is not a project; so note that if you have been asked to work on your talent brand strategy as a 2015 Quarter 1 project, then set the alarm bells off or you could experience the business equivalent of yoyo dieting!

Good Leaders Fire.

It’s not just about throwing in some engagement surveys, pretending to listen to the feedback, then craftily sweeping the things you don’t really want to address under the carpet. It’s not about painting your values across the wall to try and push people off that you really can recite them by heart. This is all about having a burning desire to be the change, to be the team that is remembered, and to simply be that rock band where failure is not an option.

Remember this daily mantra from my incredible friend and Coach, Frank Wagner :

                “You may know what is right and what is wrong, but do you do what is right?”

Do you?

“We” as leaders have a duty to do what is right and to do what our fans were promised. But before you venture on this journey, there are two things I urge you to focus on. Print this article, take it with you, and read it when you really have time, because these two things will be the deal breakers.

  1. Are you ready? This journey can feel like pushing an iron ball up a slippery hill. It’s hard, it slips back, and it can be frustrating, but if you really want it, then that ball will make it to the top and it will then roll so hard and fast that you can’t stop it! Are you ready for the challenge?
  1. Do you have the right leaders in place? I’m going to write three words here that you may gasp at, but believe me, they are written down with love and passion for people:

                                “Good Leaders Fire”.

There you have it. If you have a niggling doubt that you do not have the right leaders in place, then ask yourself this question:

“Have I coached and developed this leader?”

If the answer is no, then it is critical to do this. Remember that people are not made perfect. Just because you may have enticed the best Head of HR from your competitor or have recruited someone with a trophy cabinet of Harvard degrees does not mean that they will be the best Head of HR in your business. It all depends on whether their values align with your values and vision.

If you can, hand on heart, say ‘yes’ that you have coached and developed this leader and they are still not displaying the right behaviour, then for you to achieve your vision, you have to release them. In actual fact, how cruel is it not to let go of people who are not moulding into your team?

Can you recall a time when a leader was kept in the business for these reasons:

  1. They have been there for years and have climbed up the ranks. They are part of the furniture;
  2. They have all the skills and knowledge so the leader is scared to lose their skills and will tolerate the behaviour even if it means losing top quartile talent;
  3. The leader would rather stick his head in the sand for a little longer as opposed to having to feel the pain of recruiting a new leader.

Finally, can you answer yes to these questions?

Do you have the COURAGE to do?
Do you have the HUMILITY to do?
Do you have the DISCIPLINE to do?

Creating an unmistakable brand can only be ignited once you have your rock band. At this point, be ready to have the most extraordinary experience – for both your organisation and for your own personal development.

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Look out for my next article, Creating Your Unmistakable Talent Brand Part II : Talent branding – red hot brand destructors.


130H image courtesy Ryan McGuire of Bell Designs. http://www.gratisography.com/

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