A Critical Doer capitalizes on opportunities to be better
I was getting a “debrief” this morning from my wife about my previous post on Lane Desborough, a father that undertook an entrepreneurial path in response to his son’s plight with Type 1 Diabetes. Gwen usually has a keen eye for when I’ve hit and when I’ve missed with a post. She had two critiques…would have liked to have known more about Lane to understand where the entrepreneurial drive came from, and why General Electric didn’t recognize they had that kind of person working with them and keep him.
The second critique really put me to thinking. Companies rise and fall based upon their talent; finding and retaining top talent consumes a lot of time in top corporations. Football coach Lou Holtz summed it up pretty well…”I was always a better coach when I had good players.” When Lane left GE, it was like a blue chip recruit slipping away from Coach Holtz.
In analyzing the story, you could say that GE failed to retain an incredible talent because they didn’t have him working in an area that represented his passion. We’ve all had entry level jobs that we’ve taken to gain experience and pay the bills. You could effectively counter that there’s no way to predict a significant health issue of a child being the thing that ignites a person’s passion…and GE wasn’t in the diabetes treatment business. So the critical thinking question becomes…how does an organization connect people with their passion?
One place to begin is with recruitment and hiring. In talking to prospective hires, questions about hobbies, interests, and how time is spent outside of work can begin to shed light on whether or not your organization’s mission is a good fit for that person’s passion.
When a person has established credibility, opportunities for ownership of a project can help people discover their passion for leadership. A passion for leadership is normally a process of iterative discovery, and accountability for success or failure is often the kindling that ignites the fire.
Finally, there is no substitute for getting to know the people in your organization. As humans, there are layers that go way beyond the surface. Moving past the superficial to get to the substantial will increase the chances of discovering a person’s passion and increase the chances of keeping that highly energized person in your organization…versus making you regret it when they give a competitor an edge.
In the final analysis…can you keep every talented individual from leaving your organization? No…you simply can’t win them all. Can you keep more than you lose by making talent retention where people are connected to their passion a top priority? Yes.
Your challenge is to look at a situation at work or in a civic group and take stock of all the talent. If you don’t know the people well enough to have a handle on whether they are involved in activities that speak to their passion, chances are you they are simply biding time for the opportunity to make a move…taking your investment of training and experience to a competitor. Learn from Lane’s story and make it your business to keep difference makers from slipping through your fingers. It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!
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