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How to Retain the Talent Large Corporations Tend to Lose

How to Retain the Talent Large Corporations Tend to Lose

Beyond • December 21, 2011

It may seem difficult for the current American workforce, but there was a time not so long ago when the company that hired you fresh from graduation was likely to be the same one that gave you the gold watch upon retirement. All of that has changed as the value of an employee to the company as a whole currently tends to be in direct proportion to their likelihood of bailing. Whether they go to work for a competitor or start up their own company, the bottom line is that this brain drain is hurting companies… on the bottom line. There are some ways to retain this talent but it requires a radical re-think of corporate policy that some top executives are still stubbornly resisting. If You Love Something Set It Free The prospect of laboring under the mass of a large and impersonal corporation is claimed by many as a reason to seek greener pastures. The stultifying bureaucracy that marks most multi-nationals is often cited as a prime motivator for the highly-talented to head for the exits. The truly valuable, visionary employees generally seek to be passionately involved with their projects and this desire is rarely rewarded in corporations where a specific group of employees is inflexibly buttonholed into a particular project or department. Walling in a company’s most proficient and competent thought-leaders is a direct precursor to seeking to fill their newly-vacated cubicles. The Visionary Must Be Allowed to Soar The high talent individual is apt to feel more at ease calling their own shots rather than following corporate dictates that they may see as imperious or irrational, yet most large corporations fail to recognize this proclivity or cater to it. The reasons emanating from the head office can certainly be considered valid, such as the employee not being privy to critical information exchanged in the boardroom that justifies a categorical policy. Regardless of the rationale, the visionary identity needs to have the freedom to soar to its own altitude and the ceiling imposed by many corporations truncates this trajectory. Some See It as Touchy Feely Nonsense Executives may rail against the granting of such freedoms and the in-depth comprehension of an employee’s motivations and personality as “touchy feely nonsense” but the corporate reality of recent years proves that the loss of a single visionary individual can be a powerful detriment to the company as a whole and its entire future. Failure Turned into Success by a Change in Perspective A highly-talented employee does not have to be cited in the Steve Jobs class of visionary to have a strongly positive impact on a corporation. Virtually every sizeable company has at least a handful of individuals whose dedication to “thinking outside the box” has had remarkable effects. These origins can often arise from a completely unexpected place. It was the abject failure in the research and development of a superstrong glue that resulted in a superweak glue… which turned out to be absolutely perfect for the invention of 3M’s multi-billion dollar business of Post-It Notes. Every business wants to rise to the next level of success and profitability and it may be difficult for many top executives to recognize that the keys to these triumphs may be in the hands of the relatively low-ranked employees who have a firm grasp on “the vision thing.” Although it may violate the time-honored standard of top-down corporate governance, the savvy executive should not only seek out but grant ample liberties to visionary employees, as they may turn out to be a primary contributor to building stellar shareholder value.


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