Abbi Flynn: (00:00:02) – Hi everyone. Thanks so much for joining our Talent Sustainability webinar today. Our CEO and founder Kristy is going to kick things off. So Kristy I’ll let you take it from here.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:00:12) – Great. And thank you, Abby.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:00:13) – And thank you to everybody who’s joining us today. So before we kick off, you know, and get into this, you know, powerful webinar, I’d like to introduce all of our educators here today that are going to take us through this journey.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:00:27) – So Dan, introduce yourself a little bit about you.
Dan Tobin: (00:00:32) – Sure.
Dan Tobin: (00:00:32) – I’m Dan Tobin. I’ve been in the training and development field for 40 plus years. During that time, I founded two corporate universities. I served as vice president of the program design and development for the American Management Association. And I’ve written eight books on corporate learning strategies. Now I’m semi-retired doing occasional projects for clients, aimed mainly at corporate learning strategies.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:01:10) – Cool.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:01:11) – Thank you, Dan. And I just checked out one of Dan’s books, awesome read.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:01:15) – And so we’ll have information afterwards too that there’s a lot of knowledge and power there.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:01:20) – Allie, tell us a little bit about you.
Allie Moss: (00:01:24 ) Yeah. Hi, everyone. I didn’t want to follow Dan, but I will. My name’s Allie Moss.
Allie Moss: (00:01:28) – I’m the director of global learning and development at Media Map. We’re an ad tech company. Our population is made up of both sales, function, client services and technology groups as well. I’ve been in the learning and development space for my whole career. It’s my greatest passion. So I’m really grateful to be here. I sort of specialize in facilitation, content design, instructional design, and really have a passion ultimately for coaching people and helping them grow. So super excited to be here today.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:02:01) – Well, thank you, Allie. Stephanie, tell us a little bit about you.
Stephanie Marri: (00:02:05) Hi, my name is Stephanie Marri.
Stephanie Marri: (00:02:07) – I currently am the head of coaching and development at a company called Insight Data Science. What we do is we help people transition into careers in data science, data engineering, applied AI. My background is actually in sociology. So before I did that work, I taught other people and conducted research about how people operate in groups. But in my current role, I do a lot of kind of coaching and facilitation for the team of people here at Insight.
Stephanie Marri: (00:02:31) – A lot of learning and development for our team, helping us as a startup develop a talent strategy really between the talent that we have as well as manager training.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:02:41) – Great. Thank you, Stephanie. And Briley, your last. Tell us all about you.
Briley Tashman: (00:02:47) -Hi, guys. I’m Briley Tashman, currently chief people officer with Empirix Health, which is a pharmacy benefits management company. So essentially health care. I’ve been in HR for over a decade and really got into HR to improve the employee experience overall. You know, employee engagement as well as performance management and talent development. So I was really excited to be asked to join this panel because I have a passion for that and truly believe that if you build effective performance strategies around your talent, your organization can only flourish.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:03:27) – Thank you so much. All right. So we’re going to dive in and we’ll start with you, Briley.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:03:33) – What are your thoughts on what it means to have sustainable talent strategy and why is it so important to organizations?
Briley Tashman: (00:03:40) – Yeah.
Briley Tashman: (00:03:42) – So this is a really exciting topic and one that every organization, no matter how big or small, should be thinking about. But I think it’s really important to kind of lay the foundation first and look at some of the challenges that continue to face HR and learning and development before we kind of dive into this question. So we all know that operating budgets become tighter and tighter year over year. And the place that generally gets squeezed the most is, at least in my experience, HR and recruiting. But talent acquisition costs money.
Briley Tashman: (00:04:17) – Most external recruiters these days charge 15 to 20 percent of a candidate’s salary. And even if you’re lucky enough to have an internal recruiting department, all those ATS systems, job boards, et cetera, are really costly and not necessarily effective. Turnover costs money as well.
Briley Tashman: (00:04:35) – So retention plays a huge part here also.
Briley Tashman: (00:04:40) – It’s also become commonplace for hiring managers to assume that talent can only be found outside of the organization. Yet a study from the American Management Association stated that organizations that fill more than 25 percent of… have doubled the turnover of those who rely on internal promotions. And that senior executives hired from the outside fail at a much higher rate than those that are internally promoted. So rounding all of this out, what is a sustainable talent strategy?
Briley Tashman: (00:05:18) – Well, I think at its core, it is the development of your workforce to ensure engagement, retention and upscaling to create a promotable employee pipeline within your organization.
Briley Tashman: (00:05:32) – Basically identifying high performance within your organization who can step into more senior positions through professional development strategies provided by the company. And obviously the benefits to an organization are endless, right?
Briley Tashman: (00:05:45) – You know, costs, we’ve already addressed that. We’ve already gone through the cost of recruiting and training.
Briley Tashman: (00:05:51) – But the orientation time is also another key benefit. It takes an employee, in my experience, about three months to truly ramp up in their role.
Briley Tashman: (00:06:01) – And longer depending on the seniority.
Briley Tashman: (00:06:05) – Familiarity with team, familiarity with culture, familiarity with the inner workings of the organization are also benefits.
Briley Tashman: (00:06:13) – And let’s not forget about loyalty.
Briley Tashman: (00:06:16) – So key retention drivers across all industries are recognition and development. You recognize and invest in your employees, professional development.
Briley Tashman: (00:06:25) – You’re more likely to stay engaged and happy employees who are more likely to stick around for longer. And have a positive effect on the culture of the company.
Briley Tashman: (00:06:35) – So to give you kind of a real-world example of one approach to creating a sustainable talent strategy, which I think touches on both succession planning as well as creative talent acquisition. I’m going to take you back many years when I was heading the HR department of tech startup based in Brooklyn.
Briley Tashman: (00:06:55) – We had zero HR and recruiting budget, but very high growth plans, which is not an unusual conundrum for an HR team at a startup to be in. So we had to get really creative with our talent acquisition techniques. And one of the most effective approaches that we took was based specifically around succession planning.
Briley Tashman: (00:07:18) – So we developed a strategy to hire paid summer interns who what I termed as career switchers. So those individuals had already started on their career paths, but were really looking to go down a different avenue. We sourced the interns from job fairs, asked them to an open house at our company to formally apply for the internships.
Briley Tashman:(00:07:44) – So they could meet the hiring managers and get a feel for the company and its culture, as well as having our hiring managers get a feel for them to make sure it was a fit.
Briley Tashman:(00:07:57) – So in this way we ensured we only got the individuals most excited about the various internships, because we had already asked them to go through a number of different steps to get to that point.
Briley Tashman: (00:08:09) – And we also prefaced the application process with the statement that if the internships went well, we would extend full-time entry-level offers to every intern.
Briley Tashman: (00:08:20) – So after the summer internships were over, we ended up extending full-time offers to 90% of the interns at extremely, at an extremely low cost per hire. We’d already test driven them, as it were, in terms of their skill set and culture fit, so we were fairly certain that they would be successful. And each manager of the intern was tasked with providing them a very in-depth training and development program to ensure their success.
Briley Tashman:(00:08:50) – So I think this is kind of a real-life example of the benefits of succession planning strategy and a full L&D strategy overall.
Briley Tashman: (00:08:59) – Albeit from a very, you know, lower level or junior level, but I think the concept can really be expanded at whatever level of seniority you’re working at.
Briley Tashman: (00:09:10) – It’s just about thinking outside the box a little bit.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:09:14) – Awesome. Wow, that is impressive. There’s just so much there that I want to be able to unpack for some of our viewers there, and thank you so much. So, I’ll start backwards and then go frontwards. So, one, the entire internship component to full-time, that is amazing. And not enough companies are taking advantage of this. Right now, we have a lot of people who have entered the workforce, whether it was the millennials, now it’s Gen Z, and they’re coming in and they don’t know what to do.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:09:44) – It’s a very difficult transition from colleges and universities into the workforce. And in my opinion, millennials finally said something about it, while people like us, we just went through the motions and dealt with it. But there’s a lot of knowledge that was missing there. And so, really thinking about your hires from the entry point, especially the young talent, is so smart and so critical because it helps them get assimilated and acclimated and evolve with the changes of the workforce today and the workforce tomorrow.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:10:15) – And I think that that’s really a critical component.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:10:19) – So, kudos to you. I think the other big thing that I want to point out as to what was just said is that I remember in my former CHRO days at one of our companies, I remember they were putting all this money into hiring, and that’s what they call their talent strategy. That is not a talent strategy. That is a talent acquisition strategy.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:10:43) – And when I saw the amount of money that they were putting into hiring, I’m like, wait a second, why are we hiring 200 people if we only need 100?
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:10:50) – It’s like, oh, we’re expecting 50% to a trip.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:10:53) – That is a colossal waste of time, money, resources, culture, engagement.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:10:59) – And so, for any CHROs out there, heads of L&D, heads of talent acquisition, if you get a big list of hires that you have to go and hire, question what those hires are.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:11:12) – And that’s really where talent management and talent acquisition can come together to really be business partners. And so, we’re thinking about this from an organizational level. What we really need today, what we really need tomorrow, and to take the skills that people have today and ensure that they have the skills to get to tomorrow instead of constantly going out and recycling, replacing, and rehiring.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:11:33) – And just a fun little statistic is that, on average, it costs $50,000 to hire someone, and it costs $5,000 to invest in someone. So it’s a no-brainer. So thank you. I just wanted to call out a couple of great items there. So with everything that you said, and Dan, I’ll pass this to you, and I love the commentary on this, how do you get executive buy-in? You know what I mean? Like, when you’re building these strategies, what are the best ways to be able to get that buy-in and really be able to create a culture of well-being?
Dan Tobin: (00:12:08) – Thank you, Kristy.. For me, the best way to get executive buy-in is to build a business case for whatever it is you’re trying to do. And that doesn’t mean that you have to go collect statistics on return on investment, which I argue strongly against in many of my books as a way of measuring the effectiveness of trading. What I mean is actually starting to understand the business and finding out what business managers feel they and their employees need in order to improve their business results.
Dan Tobin: (00:12:58) – A lot of training people, I’ve heard, well, years ago, I attended a session given by the head of the ATD, then ASTD. And he put a challenge out to people. He said, what does it mean if your CEO or your CFO were to walk into your office as the trading director of the company and ask you to do a return on investment study to justify your trading budget?
Dan Tobin: (00:13:35) – And the right answer to that question, because I’ve been asking it myself for a number of years in presentations, is it means you should start updating your resume because the CEO has already decided that he’s not getting any return on the trading budget and is just asking for you to provide him with the numbers to justify slashing the budget or outsourcing the function or just eliminating the function. And at that meeting, I was sitting with the heads of trading through a couple of the large New York banks.
Dan Tobin: (00:14:13) – And one turned to the other and said, how am I supposed to understand the business? I’ve got a degree in training and development. I don’t have an MBA. And there’s no excuse. That is not an excuse for not understanding the business. You need to get out and talk to the people in the business. Find out what’s keeping them awake at night. Find out where they feel they and their employees need to improve their skills and their knowledge in order to meet their business goals.
Dan Tobin: (00:14:52) – You have to define your trading initiatives in terms of company business goals, not in terms of behavioral objectives.
Kristy McCann Flynn:(00:15:03) – Love it. Okay.
Dan Tobin: (00:15:04) – And when you do that, my experience over 40 years is that when you do that, I’ve never been denied money for a trading initiative. But I can show that there’s a direct impact on the company’s business.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:15:23) – Awesome. Dan, I love it. And for any viewers out there, I know when I first spoke with Dan, I’ve been in the business for a long time.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:15:31) – I definitely learned a ton.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:15:32) – There’s a lot with what he’s done, and it’s not maverick. What it is, is honest.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:15:40) – And it’s ethical, and it’s about investing in people. And so, I appreciate your wisdom and totally echo that. Start writing your resume if they’re questioning it, or really form a business plan to be able to roll with it.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:15:55) – And I know that in particular, too, and Stephanie, I think that this is where you can also echo this. Startups have no money, but they have to hire a ton of people, and they have to make these behind goals for investors. And the only thing they’re concerned about is hiring. So how did you get money being at a startup, to be able to help develop people?
Stephanie Marri: (00:16:19) – Before I talk about that, I want to address really quickly something that you said earlier about these costs of if you don’t have a talent strategy, and there’s a lot of planned attrition, and you’re burning through people and the cost of replacing those employees. Another cost to keep in mind is the burnout of your HR and training staff. It will affect them on a very deep and personal and morale level if they have to continually, because of the bad strategic decisions that are being made, have their work undone.
Stephanie Marri: (00:16:49) – So that’s another cost to think about, is the engagement of the people whose job it is to hire and train, and then off-board those people because their strategies were faulty. But in terms of getting exact buy-in at a small company where even when things are going well, there’s that fear of the horizon of long-term success and being able to survive, I definitely want to echo what Dan said around, you have to make a business case for it.
Stephanie Marri: (00:17:18) – If there is no direct business case for it, this is not an argument that you should be making in terms of the use of resources. I see people make indirect business cases like, well, there are a lot of factors and maybe this one will change, kind of like a scatter shot. We’re going to try a lot of different things and see what works. I think at startups, people are especially susceptible to that because they might not have a lot of human resources information systems, or they might not have a ton of data about how things are going.
Stephanie Marri:(00:17:45) – So we’ll try a lot of different things. I really like a good old-fashioned kind of gap analysis at the end of the year or whenever people are planning big goals for the company’s growth. Insert yourself into that process if you weren’t already invited into it and ask like, oh, it looks like you want to double our revenue for next year. How are we going to do that? Why can’t we do that now? What on the team in terms of the skills or experiences or other talent factors on the team are stopping us from doing that?
Stephanie Marri: (00:18:15) – And really engage people in what is it going to take for us to get there? It’s not free to develop talent internally, but I think that that’s what happens a lot at startups. It may cost a lot to bring highly experienced talent on the team and it may be out of the reach of your recruiting budget. And so there’s often a tendency to train people in the fire, right? In terms of, you’ve never done this job before, but we have this talent gap and we’re going to throw you in there and you’re going to figure it out. Which is, it sometimes works, right?
Stephanie Marri: (00:18:51) – But I think you have to do that in a very intentional way. You have to start from this goal of this is what we’re trying to achieve as a company. This is why we can’t do it now because we don’t have people who are highly skilled enough in A, B, C, and D. So we’re going to strategically either hire externally or really focus in on developing internally to meet that gap.
Stephanie Marri: (00:19:13) – And I think that if you make it easy for executives to say yes, because you’ve identified a gap that everybody knows is holding the company back from meeting those goals now, it’s very hard for them to say no. I think you have to give people a reality check of what it will take to get there. And you don’t want to sugarcoat it. And I think that that’s a way that you can also retrospectively show people at the end of the year, it looks like we weren’t able to hit this goal.
Stephanie Marri: (00:19:42) – And we talk about why.
Stephanie Marri:(00:19:43) – Could there have been reasons that maybe we didn’t have the existing talent or there were some attrition issues that we didn’t plan for and then we had a lot of people who didn’t have the skills that we needed. So I think very firmly tying it to a need.
Stephanie Marri: (00:20:00) – Just really inserting yourself in those conversations. Anytime you hear big lofty goals, ask people how in terms of the team of people that we have or the team of people you envision hiring, we’re actually going to accomplish that. And that can also help with your notion of there’s this long list of people they want me to hire and I don’t know why.
Stephanie Marri: (00:20:18) – Getting that justification and tying it to this is directly how we’re going to achieve this goal for the year, for the quarter, it can be really helpful in terms of getting people bought in to spending money on developing people.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:20:30) – Yeah. No, thank you. And just want to recap a couple of things that you said there, Stephanie, because I think it’s so important. One, the attrition within HR and talent teams is the highest it’s ever been. They are burnt out. I was one of them. I left corporate America. Granted, I started a company to help all HR people out there to invest in talent. But it’s real. And I’m tired of people saying that HR sucks.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:21:00) – We do our job and then we have to continue to do it over and over again when we don’t see the human component and we’re constantly recycling people. And then we get to the end of the year goals and people say, well, we didn’t have the people to do goals. Yes, we did. Yes, we did. You did not invest in them. And so, that is real. And so, for any HR professionals out there, please, by all means, pat yourself on the back. We’ve been there. We know what you’re going through. And it’s one of the reasons why we’re here to help you.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:21:28) – But it’s also where you need to be very careful. Gary Crisp and firm asked what you want your long-term plan to look like as far as you and the company that you’re working with. It has the same values as you because it really does go back to values. And if companies are fine with people walking out the door left and right, you shouldn’t be there. Because that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to cultivate culture and cultivate people. So, thank you, Stephanie, for bringing up that very important component of it. Which is also a really good segue.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:21:56) – And I don’t know about the answer, but I have to make sure that we push it out there. Who really owns talent development within a company? So, what are your thoughts on that, Ali?
Allie Moss: (00:22:08) – Yeah.
Allie Moss: (00:22:09) – Thank you.
Allie Moss: (00:22:10) – And definitely, I want to echo both what Stephanie and Dan said. The sentiment around creating a business case is super important and making sure that programs are really laddering back to business goals, not just to drive behavioral outcomes. And, you know, there are times that the perception is that HR owns that process, owns those initiatives. In my perspective, it’s truly a partnership and it’s a team effort. The sort of true drivers and catalysts for those changes and for cultivating that culture is really going to be the business.
Allie Moss: (00:22:48) – Your people managers, your leaders. Internally, the people who are champions for the culture are what we see as being folks who are really the leaders. And so, we’re able to kind of drive that forward. From the perspective of L&D, which is sort of the remit that I sit under, we are there to really facilitate a lot of those processes. We are there to provide tools, to provide resources, to provide frameworks, to provide best practice, and to facilitate healthy and positive and productive discussion.
Allie Moss: (00:23:22) – But we don’t see ourselves or view ourselves as the owners of that process. It truly is sort of a collaborative effort that should be really, really, really important. We really stood up by folks within the business. So, at MediaMath, something that I’m proud of that we do really well is, within HR, we really view ourselves and position ourselves as partners to the business. Sometimes the challenge that I’ve seen with L&D is, L&D is viewed as sort of an extension of the business or a sort of a silo that sort of sits to the side of the business.
Allie Moss: (00:23:55) – And that’s where a lot of the disconnect comes from that I think Dan was mentioning before. So, I think the more that you, as L&D or as HR in general, can sort of really immerse yourself in the business as a true partner to kind of diagnose needs, to understand what those gaps are, then you create a stronger partnership. And then the end result is a product of sort of the mind meld of HR, talent, L&D, as well as the business itself. So, sort of a specific quick example that I can share here.
Allie Moss: (00:24:28) – We launched this year our first ever global leadership development program that about 150 leaders around the world sort of went through. It was sort of a six month journey that will end in November. And sort of instead of taking a sort of off the shelf.
Allie Moss: (00:24:48) – So, we had a… partner that we worked with to design the program. We really wanted to do our due diligence and understanding from our people what they needed to learn. So, we held a series of focus groups, a series of one-to-one interviews, both with leaders ranging from first-time managers all the way to our C-suite, as well as folks who were non-managers as well. So, what do you need from your leaders that you’re not getting right now?
Allie Moss: (00:25:15) – So, actually, the program was very curated to the needs that we had within the business, which made it a much easier sell, if you will, because it was sort of a direct ask from folks across functions and levels. So, I think when you start to shift the paradigm in terms of who’s the owner of this, who’s the driver, it creates a healthier conversation and a more productive one when L&D and HR is viewed as truly a partner to and part of the business and not an extension of the business.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:25:52) – Awesome. Thank you, Ally. And, when all those individuals went through that, how did they feel?
Allie Moss: (00:26:00) – Through the program or through the sort of focus group piece in the beginning?
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:26:04) – Just the beginning, but anyway throughout the entire process. When they were getting learning, how did they feel?
Allie Moss: (00:26:10) – They definitely felt good. I think they felt, A, they were being heard. I also think that they felt truly like a part of the process. We truly brought them along for the ride from the very beginning. We weren’t just sort of signing them up and inserting them into this program. We were super thoughtful to say, this is an investment in you. It’s going to actually take more time for you to participate in this program, but it’s because we see you as either existing leaders within the business or sort of next-generation leaders of the business.
Allie Moss: (00:26:46) – We really see you as either formal or functional leaders and individuals that can really push our business forward and grow our business. So, for that reason, we want to sort of take the time to help arm you with the skills and the tools to help you do your job more effectively. So, I think for that reason, it was really well received.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:27:08) – And, that’s awesome. And, the reason I bring that up, and thank you, Ali, for sharing that story, and I’d love to hear more from Stephanie and Riley also because I know that they’ve built similar things. But, the reason I ask that is that you see why people are leaving organizations and it’s because of managers or lack of professional development and everybody’s running around with their hair on fire right now because we apparently have this skill shortage and nobody knows what to do with it. And, we have lots of health and wellness issues.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:27:36) – We have stress issues. It all goes back to how an individual feels and if they’re getting the help and they’re feeling like they’re being hurt.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:27:45) – And that’s the most important part of a talent strategy.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:27:48) – It just isn’t throwing a bunch of different training at them and seeing what sticks. It’s really about, as Stephanie mentioned earlier, what is the gap analysis and what are we doing to build that bridge from the current state to the future state with the people in your organization in a way that feels safe and supportive and where they’re learning. And so, thank you, Ali. Sorry to be holding on that, but I wanted to make sure that’s where the real ROI is and that will also help with retention of individuals and engagement.
Stephanie Marri: (00:28:21) – But, you know, Riley and Stephanie, we’d love to hear from you because I know that you guys have built this stuff too and the more examples that the audience has, the more impactful it can be for them to actually do this in their organizations.
Stephanie Marri: (00:28:32) – So I have some interesting examples from some of the career coaching work that I’ve done where I currently work for a company that helps people get their first jobs in a new industry but invariably, as workers in 2019. After about two years, some of those people want to move on. And the reasons why they want to move on are not unique. These are those most common reasons why people decide to leave a job.
Stephanie Marri: (00:28:55) – First and foremost, they have issues with their manager or there’s been a reorg and they’ve got a new manager or they don’t feel like there are any realistic growth opportunities there. So when people are lacking these two things, if they don’t have a positive relationship with that person who was supposed to, they feel, be their advocate and support them and enable their growth, or if they feel like there are no realistic opportunities for growth, they’re going to start to drop out in terms of engagement. It’s going to start to feel like a grind.
Stephanie Marri: (00:29:25) – They might start to get really cynical about things. And if you’re lucky, they will leave promptly. If you’re unlucky, they will stay and potentially make kind of a toxic work environment for other people because they’re so unhappy. The thing that I think is most important in terms of employee retention, and I think this is supported by that Gallup research that everyone cites, that says that 70 percent of what affects employee engagement are factors related to the manager. If you want to routine people, you have to develop managers.
Stephanie Marri: (00:29:55) – Lots of people are managers and are not great at it. And you have two factors that I think can affect manager effectiveness in a very broad sense. And that’s competence, actual skill level, and confidence, how they would rate their own skills. So in terms of competence, you really do need to train managers. It’s not enough to give people a book and say, hey, read this, this will make you a great manager. It’s not enough to give them even just really high quality like L and D modules.
Stephanie Marri: (00:30:26) – That will affect, that would give them like book knowledge on what it looks like to be a good manager or what to strive for. But there’s still going to be a huge gap between theory and practice. And that’s where I think the importance of coaching and support comes in. And this is true for any kind of training regimen you have. But I think especially for managers because the problems that they’re dealing with are human problems and they’re very complex. If you just give them training and expect it to be enough, you will have bad results.
Stephanie Marri: (00:30:52) – You have to provide coaching and support for managers to raise their confidence level. Because there are plenty of managers out there who are actually pretty good at their jobs, but they’re afraid that they’re bad at their jobs because it’s hard, basically. And they think that if something is hard, I might not be doing it right. But the fact is, is we have to prepare managers for the fact that it’s a very challenging and demanding job that has a lot of emotional labor.
Stephanie Marri: (00:31:16) – And providing their coaching and support for them empowers them to do their work with the rest of your team. And then I think the other thing you have to do, which I think is a little bit scary in terms of retaining people and it seems a little bit counterintuitive, is you have to make sure that the people that you have on your team now feel like they could go get a job somewhere else if they wanted to.
Stephanie Marri: (00:31:38) – Sometimes you have people who feel stuck on a team because they’re afraid that their talents have become rusty because there aren’t any real opportunities for them to grow and get sharper in their current company. And so they may stay, but not because they want to, but because they’re afraid they’re no longer competitive in the field.
Stephanie Marri: (00:31:54) – And so I think for especially smaller companies, where you do have these unique opportunities of, we might not be able to pay you all the most money in the world, but we are a fast growing company and you are going to get to have access to a lot of problems that are pretty challenging, really sell people on the idea that if you continue to work here, we will continue to provide you with opportunities to grow yourself. So no matter whether you continue your career here or somewhere else, you’re going to be a competitive candidate.
Stephanie Marri: (00:32:21) – And I think that that frightens people because there’s that idea of I just invested a bunch of resources into training you and you’re just going to go leave. Well, you do have to make sure that you incentivize them to stay, but they shouldn’t stay because they feel stuck.
Stephanie Marri: (00:32:35) – So those are the things that I think are most important, making sure that managers are supported themselves in order to be able to support employees and really providing learning opportunities and growth opportunities that make somebody want to stay even though they know that they could be a competitive employee out there on the job market.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:32:54) – Now thank you, Stephanie, for sharing that. And the one thing I’ll just add on before I swing it over to Briley is that training and development is like change management.
Kristy McCann Flynn:(00:33:04) – So, a couple of months ago, we had a big change management webinar series, and it applies to everything. And it really applies most to training and development within your organization.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:33:17) – Because when you look at the ProSci, AdCar model, which for everybody out there listening, it’s probably one of the biggest things that I’ve learned in my entire career that I use with everything, not only at work but even in life, is that when you look at AdCar, what that acronym really means is it’s the awareness.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:33:35) – And one, it’s the awareness that we have some challenges we’re going to be growing, we need… just being aware of what your current state is and how you’re going to build that plan with people in order to get to your future state is important.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:33:47) – And it’s building that desire. And this is something that Dan has talked about, especially when you’re trying to go get buy-in.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:33:54) – The desire needs to be built just over on the overall awareness. Like, this is where we are, this is where we need to go, we’re going to build a bridge that’s getting there. And it builds the desire and the input, especially with what Ali had said, of all those people that went through that training and development program, that they felt the need, that they were heard, and that they were being helped. And, heard and helped is a very big thing.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:34:13) – And then, as you’re building all these training and development, whether it be training, whether it be coaching, whether it be online webinars, what have you, that builds knowledge. And that knowledge base is huge, you know what I mean?
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:34:25) – But also, the big thing that that knowledge provides is the ability to be able to do something that you weren’t able to do yesterday. And that’s where the confidence component comes in, because you don’t know what you don’t know. And everybody thinks so differently, everybody learns so differently. And that’s where the R in IACAR comes in most important, with the reinforcement. You just can’t do one and done.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:34:49) – Yeah, I trained 150 managers, they’re all going to be great managers, and then five minutes later, they’re like, Oh, they’re not using anything for the training sessions. Well, of course they aren’t.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:34:58) – And the reinforcement not only comes through coaching and development, the reinforcement comes through goals, and it comes through values. And these are the predictive indicators that we need to be measuring instead of how many people that we are retaining, and how many people feel happy. It’s really those predictive indicators right there for how we’re doing the reinforcement. Because the reinforcement, and you could apply this to sales, you could apply this to customer service, you could apply it to any job within the organization.
Kristy McCann Flynn:(00:35:28) – It takes someone five to seven times, on average, just to register something. Never mind, actually do it. So, when you think about that for reinforcement, the reinforcement component of your plan is probably the most important component, but you can’t get there until you build everything else there. So, I’m going to pause, and I know that Bradley has tons of experience in this, and so, Bradley, I’d love to hear how you have done this stuff further, and really get into some of the RAS tax, too, there.
Briley Tashman: (00:35:57) – Yeah, so I think one thing that I’ll kind of touch on there from what you said is identifying goals, right?
Briley Tashman: (00:36:07) – People have to understand what their goals are to be successful.
Briley Tashman:(00:36:13) – So, if they don’t know what the learning and development programs that you initiate are for, then they’re never going to understand what success means. So, I think that taking it from the first… And it’s so surprising to me, I’ve worked in a number of organizations, mostly in the startup world, where individuals don’t have goals.
Briley Tashman: (00:36:37) – Like, from day one, even from day 90, they don’t have goals.
Briley Tashman: (00:36:42) – They don’t have their personal goals, they don’t have departmental goals, they don’t have operational goals. Again, you’re just kind of throwing someone into the fire and saying, okay, you’re on your own now. And I think that’s really of utmost importance.
Briley Tashman: (00:36:56) – People have to understand what success means from an operational perspective, but also from a professional growth perspective. And we always build in professional growth goals to our annual goals, and check in with them on a regular basis to make sure everyone is on track with regards to those goals.
Briley Tashman: (00:37:19) – And I think just another point there which is super, super important, and one that we found very, very successful, is the idea of identifying a mentor. Not just necessarily an internal mentor, but an external mentor. Connecting your high performers in the organization with someone that they can go outside to discuss challenges that they may be having internally with either conflicts or talking about how I can approach this issue, because it gives you a different perspective and therefore a different mindset.
Briley Tashman:(00:37:55) – And it also gives that employee, again, a different viewpoint as to how they can potentially approach an issue or a problem to be successful.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:38:12) – Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.
Kristy McCann Flynn:(00:38:16) – And just to really continue to double down on some of the details when it comes to actual process and measurement, Dan, you have a ton of experience building this and helping a lot of organizations. So, walk us through some process and actual retention measurements that you have used that work well and how people are able to build them.
Dan Tobin: (00:38:40) – Okay. There’s so much here. Some years ago, I interviewed the general manager and vice president of a division of an electric company with 3,000 employees. And he told me that in the next five years, seven of the nine top people in the division, including himself, were going to be eligible to retire. And he said, I have absolutely no idea who’s going to replace us. So I suggested to him that maybe they ought to look at putting together a leadership development program. And he said, oh, he says it’s a waste of money.
Dan Tobin:(00:39:28) – He said, I sent one young guy, bright young guy in the division off to a very expensive program. He says, cost me a small fortune. He says, spent a week at the program, came back, nothing changed. Total waste of money. Well, I talked with the young guy as well. And he said it was a very well-known program from a very well-known vendor. And we always got great reviews.
Dan Tobin: (00:40:00) – He said it was a great program. He says I’ve learned a lot and I changed a lot. He said I came back after the week. My boss said clean up your desk. You have a week’s worth of work sitting there. When I got that cleaned up, he says I came back to talk to my boss about what I’ve learned and some ideas I had. And he said everything’s fine. There’s no need to change anything. Get back to work. Well, it wasn’t a very successful investment. One of the things that, you know, in building leadership development programs, there’s a lot that needs to go into it.
Dan Tobin: (00:40:45) – I built a model at one company I worked for. This was a company of about 1,500 employees worldwide. They hadn’t been doing well. They had two rounds of layoffs in the previous two years, forced furloughs. And the VP of Human Resources for whom I worked said we’ve got to put this together. So I put together a model for a two-year leadership development program. The 36 mid-level managers who’ve been designated as having high potential for future leadership roles in the company. And there were four elements.
Dan Tobin:(00:41:31) – The first were formal education sessions once a quarter, each of which second element was followed up by an action learning program project, sometimes for teams, sometimes for individuals. The third element was doing a 360 assessment on each person and developing an individual development plan for each of them. And the fourth element was coaching. Over the three years, over the two years of the program, we lost one person.
Dan Tobin: (00:42:14) – People in HR estimated that at the time because the company hadn’t been doing well, 50 to 75 percent of the people had their resumes out on the screen. We retained 35 out of 36 people over two years. And the point is that when people see that when the… the company is investing in their future, they’re going to stick around. Okay, what I’d like to do is just give you what I think the expectations, reasonable expectations from this kind of program. And they’re not all quantifiable. So let me just quickly go through them.
Dan Tobin: (00:42:57) – The first one is that through the set of educational sessions, we’re going to be teaching people not just leadership skills, but also developing their business acumen and execution skills. Because if you have a vision, that’s great. If you don’t know how to execute on that vision, it’s useless. Okay. Secondly, you’ll expand and improve the quality of your company’s bench strength. Too many companies when they talk about succession planning, talk only about the CEO or C-level officers.
Dan Tobin: (00:43:39) – There are leaders needed at every level of an organization and not just for the C-suite. Number three, you’ll retain some of your top talent, which is as I said, that you would have otherwise lost. Number fourth, through action learning projects, you’re going to solve some long-standing company challenges that might not otherwise have been addressed. Things that, you know, keep coming up, but nobody ever thinks they’re quite important enough to assign resources to them. Make perfect action learning projects.
Dan Tobin: (00:44:17) – Six, you’ll see the participants improve their performance in their current jobs. Okay, because the skills that they’re learning, they’re learning to apply immediately. Seven, you’ll be able to weed out some people who seem to be rising stars but don’t perform well. I think every company’s had a
Dan Tobin: (00:44:45) – An experience where they promoted some rising star to a senior position, only to have the person come into that position knowing all the answers without asking any questions and find that after 18 to 20 months, they end up having to fire that person because they just didn’t perform. And finally, you help company executives as they participate in the program feel much more connected to what’s really happening throughout the company. Most executives’ views of company personnel only go down one, maybe two levels from themselves.
Dan Tobin: (00:45:36) – Through participating in these programs, they get to view the future talent and they get to hear ideas, many good ideas that haven’t made their way up the ladder. So there are loads of benefits, not all of which are quantifiable. So I think that you have to look at the full picture.
Kristy McCann Flynn:(00:46:12) – Well, Dan, thank you. So we’ll make sure that we have notes on that strategy going out.
Kristy McCann Flynn:((00:46:20) – But the one big thing that resonated with me that I think is important and it goes to a story as to what Dan had said. When I was over at Pearson Education, we had put together a manager and leadership development program. And the CEO who led the LTG group, Jim Benke, one of the most amazing bosses and leaders I ever reported to, basically gave me free rein and basically said, please help my managers. We’re an education company. We need to make sure that we’re educating our managers and our leaders.
Kristy McCann Flynn:( (00:46:54) – And I was like, score! And we built this program.
Kristy McCann Flynn:( (00:46:59) – And the best part about it, and it made me reminisce about this as Dan was speaking, was that it went through all different layers of the organization. We were able to do succession planning, starting at the associate level, not at the VP level.
Kristy McCann Flynn:( (00:47:13) – But it was when Jim came into the actual learning programs to listen as to what they were learning and to what they were giving feedback on, and to also provide guidance.
Kristy McCann Flynn:((00:47:24) – And at this time, Jim was a very introverted leader. He didn’t really know all the people in his very vast organization.
Kristy McCann Flynn:( (00:47:31) – But it was an opportunistic time for him to be able to come in, see his people learning, getting to know who they were beyond a piece of paper and what some 360 said. And it was probably the most impactful component of the program. And so, the reason I say this is that we could spend thousands of dollars on the best programs and have the best processes and have the best data and analytics.
Kristy McCann Flynn:((00:47:58) – But if your leaders don’t get it, then it all means nothing. And that’s something that you always have to make sure that you’re keeping in check.
Kristy McCann Flynn:((00:48:08) – Now, granted, you could potentially change them.
Kristy McCann Flynn:((00:48:11) – And there’s different ways to eventually change them from the works of what you do, and how it really helps impact the business. But I think the more visibility that people can get to senior leadership in a way that’s like this where they’re learning, it can be really important long-term for them. So, thank you, Dan.
Kristy McCann Flynn:( (00:48:30) – That was awesome. So, just to wrap this up, because we’ve got ten minutes, and I want to make this a little bit more engaging and insightful because you guys have said so many different things, and I want to be able to package it together. When you think of talent strategy, let’s do a quick start, stop, and continue exercise.
Kristy McCann Flynn:( (00:48:49) – And the reason being, I want to hear all the different views of the panel.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:48:53) – But, you know, what are the things that people need to start doing when it comes to building a sustainable talent strategy? What are the things that people need to stop doing when it comes to building a sustainable talent strategy?
Kristy McCann Flynn:( (00:49:05) – And what do we need to continue to do? And we’ll be able to package this for everybody that’s out there in a clear and effective way.
Kristy McCann Flynn:( 00:49:11) – So, whoever wants to kick off with the starts, what do we need to start doing?
Allie Moss: (00:49:15) – I can kick off with one, if that’s okay. So, I think we’ve spent a lot of time today talking about the fact that we don’t always need to buy talent. There’s so much talent that exists in our organizations. And I often think that sometimes we miss the opportunity to seek out and or build development programs or development platforms or opportunities internally within our organization. So, you know, one…
Allie Moss:(00:49:42) – So, a really specific example that I can share as a takeaway is at MediaMath, we have a number of programs that are sort of led by subject matter experts within the business and are also sort of help to stand up through people who want to take on a leadership role that maybe are not sort of in one formally at that time. So we have sort of a career accelerator program and also a rotational program if folks want to get maybe from the sales organization to the engineering organization, right?
Allie Moss: (00:50:15) – Maybe they feel stuck, if you will, like Stephanie had said, in their current role rather than sort of grooming them to leave the business. We’d rather facilitate opportunities for them to move around internally within the business. So, we have set up structures really, again, that are led by people who are raising their hand because they want to do more.
Allie Moss:(00:50:38) – They want to coach people.
Allie Moss: (00:50:39) – They want the opportunity to help others grow. They want to informally grow their leadership skills. So, they partner with us in HR and in L&D to help drive that program forward. So, I think in terms of a start, maybe also seek out opportunities internally within your four walls of how you can help people navigate through different opportunities that really live inside of the business that might not seem super clear without the structures and the frameworks sort of being there.
Allie Moss: (00:51:15) – So, as a HR function or as an L&D function, you can really help drive change and drive some innovation through creating some of those programs inside.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:51:27) – Awesome. Thank you, Allie. Who else? What else can we start doing right now? I think another thing that people can start doing right now is making sure that they bring in, make sure that they really take a project management approach to initiatives large and small.
Stephanie Marri:(00:51:47) – If this is not your strength, this is a great opportunity to bring in somebody else from another part of the organization who can really help you start from that end goal and back it up. Because when you put in those milestones and those checkpoints, that’s how you can make sure that the end product that you end with in terms of that result that you’re trying to achieve with whatever your new process or initiative is, is really going to achieve what you want.
Stephanie Marri: (00:52:13) – By really taking like a kind of, we’re going to manage this like a project by making sure that you bring somebody who is very good about understanding all the intricacies and all the steps and building in those milestones, that gives you these increased opportunities to check in and course correct. If we invested a lot of resources into this talent strategy, we don’t want to find out at the end that it didn’t work.
Stephanie Marri: (00:52:36) – We want to find out as soon as possible that something looks like it’s not working so that we can fix it before all the money that we invested does not pay off.
Briley Tashman: (00:52:49) – I think to add to both of your points, which I completely agree with, I think to start is to definitely use data to identify the knowledge gaps prior to launching into any kind of training and development program. People have significant biases in multiple areas with regards to people, with regards to the strengths and the weaknesses of the teams.
Briley Tashman:(00:53:24) – But if you find that data and you have the data to support, you can automatically get the leadership buy-in because you have the physical evidence to say, okay, so this is where we are lacking and this is where our program should be focused on.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:53:45) Awesome, thank you. All right, what do we need to stop doing? Dan, what do you think?
Dan Tobin: (00:53:49) – Well, I think we need to stop spending so much time in our own offices. We need to get out there into the business. If you’re being asked to go train a group of people, go out and spend some time with those people, find out how they’re working now, find out what ideas they have for improvement, find out what’s not working.
Dan Tobin: (00:54:15) – If you’re running a class, you as a training manager, both have lunch with the people in the class one day and just talk to them about their jobs and what help they need, what’s working for them, what’s not working for them, how valuable is the class.
Dan Tobin: (00:54:35) – What were the best parts? What doesn’t ring true with them? Don’t just sit in your office waiting for business people to come to you with a training request. Okay, get out there and learn about the business.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:54:54) – I couldn’t agree more and I have to give a props to Stephanie here when I first had my conversation with Stephanie, you know being a the lone soldier at Insight doing all this.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:55:04) – She actually talked to every single employee before she created any type of plan and so like, you know, she put the work in to make sure that it was successful.
Kristy McCann Flynn:(00:55:14) – And Stephanie, that’s one of the reasons why you’re here today, so I got to toot your horn. But you get that important.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:55:20) – It’s so important in that. Thank you.
Stephanie Marri: (00:55:22) – I think that that brings me to another stop though is stop building things that don’t scale. That was only a possibility when our organization was a certain size. So I did interview everybody at the company at a certain point including the CEO around what are the skills? What’s the one big skill that you need to build over the next couple of months in order for us to achieve what we’re trying to achieve?
Stephanie Marri: (00:55:47) – And that was a fantastic experience, but I could literally not do it now unless that was my full-time job and it would probably suck the life out of me. These are very intensive conversations. I think build scalability into things because if you’re doing your job right and everybody else is too, the company’s going to grow. So it’s okay to test things out as a pilot to get that rich qualitative data, that experiential feedback from people who are undergoing it.
Stephanie Marri: (00:56:12) – But really build things with the mindset that if we’re all doing our job correctly we’re gonna have a lot more people to do this with. So you might want to start it small, but build it in a way such that when the company is bigger as it gets more successful you don’t have to tear it all down and start over.
Stephanie Marri: (00:56:27) – Build it in a way that’s going to be able to gracefully evolve as your training needs change.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:56:32) – Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Stephanie.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:56:35) – And sometimes less is more and this is where you get to be creative and innovative at being able to test a variety of different things.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:56:41) – And it’s just like, you know, products. You test product before you build the whole thing, you know what I mean?
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:56:47) – And it’s a similar way.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:56:47) – You got to be able to test it on people.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:56:49) – So two minutes left.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:56:50) – What do we need to continue to do? You know, I mean to build sustainable talent strategies and I’ll kick it off by one thing. The way that we need to continue is we need to continue to support each other as HR professionals, as L&D professionals. We need to champion each other because we know the weight that’s on us and we’re providing you an outlet. So, you know, we continue to learn and this is where we have to help educate others.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:57:16) – And so check here with this webinar.
Kristy McCann Flynn:(00:57:18) – But what else?
Kristy McCann Flynn:(00:57:20) – But what else do we need to continue to do to be able to build sustainable talent strategies?
Briley Tashman:(00:57:29) Yeah, touching on what everyone else has said here already is engaging with your leadership team, getting their buy-in. If you don’t have their buy-in, then your training and development strategy is just going to fall flat. It’s like anything, right?
Briley Tashman: (00:57:43) – It’s like culture.
Briley Tashman: (00:57:44) – It has to have a trickle-down effect.
Briley Tashman: (00:57:46) – So that is probably the most important thing.
Briley Tashman: (00:57:50) – And I think Dan touched on how you get the executive leadership buy-in there.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:57:58) – Great. Any last thoughts before we wrap up?
Allie Moss: (00:58:01) – Yeah, I could just add something really, really quick. You know, continue leveraging the tools that you already have in motion to collect feedback from your people. So things like employee engagement surveys are really wonderful. And if there aren’t questions surrounding how people feel as it relates to their opportunities to grow and develop, add those in. So like Stephanie had said, insert yourself in certain conversations that you can, where maybe you weren’t previously sort of involved or had a seat at the table.
Allie Moss: (00:58:34) – So I would say from a scalability standpoint, that’s a really useful tool that you can get some really impactful data from.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:58:44) – Great.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:58:45) – Well, thank you.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:58:45) – So we’re at time. So I want to one, thank our wonderful panelists here.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:58:49) – I have educators.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:58:50) – I hope people got a lot out of it. Two, happy Halloween. You know, to everybody that’s out there.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:58:56) – I know it’s raining on the East Coast.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:58:57) – Hopefully it’s a little bit sunnier out West.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:59:00) – And then lastly, if you need help with any of your talent sustainability, you know, I created this company to help you.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:59:07) – It was built for you, by you.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:59:08) – So definitely get in touch and definitely check out the website. Check out some of Dan’s books. I’m definitely learning a ton as I continue to grow too. And the last comment is never stop growing, never stop learning.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:59:19) – That that’s what we’re all here for, is to continue to learn and grow all the time.
Kristy McCann Flynn: (00:59:23) – So thank you and have a good day.
Allie Moss: (00:59:25) – Thank you.
Allie Moss: (00:59:26) – Bye.