How to Attract & Retain Top Talent

Chick-fil-A might bring to mind your favorite sandwich, but at the first Emerald Coast Chick-fil-A Leadership Summit, Mark Miller, Vice-President of High Performance Leadership made a memorable statement: “You might think we’re in the chicken business, but we are actually in the people business – and we serve them chicken. This emphasis is foundational to our success.” Excellence is not occasional, and Mark Miller set the bar high in his impactful keynote address.

The topic of the Leadership Summit was “How to Attract and Retain Top Talent” and Miller hit truth straight on with the observation, “Finding and keeping good people is not an HR issue. It’s a leadership issue.” His team commissioned a research study to determine what things are valued by top talent.

Let’s start with what differentiates top talent from typical talent.

These are the fundamentals that both top talent and typical talent expect from their workplace:  

  1. A fair wage
  2. A safe culture: This includes both physical and emotional safety.
  3. An organization with a good reputation.

Meet these expectations and you can attract the B and C team players. What needs to be added to attract A players – or top talent?

  1. Top performers expect a Better Boss. They want a boss who cares deeply and expresses it. They want a boss who is fully engaged and accessible. And they want to work for someone who displays excellence in leadership. Miller’s advice to every person in leadership – keep growing! Every investment in your growth and development is an asset to the entire organization.  
  2. Top performers are future-oriented. Ongoing opportunities for personal development and professional advancement are necessary to retain A players. Better bosses champion the growth of those they are leading.
  3. Having a clear vision, a well-stated mission, and values that are infused into the culture are vital to top talent.

During the Q & A session after Miller’s talk, he was asked, “What is the biggest mistake you see leaders make?” This prompted Miller to elaborate on the two aspects leaders are responsible for: the results  side and the relationship side. Good leaders value both the tactical and the personal aspects of organizational health, but Miller noted that he sees more leaders fail in the relationship side of success than the performance side. He noted that if you fall short on performance and results, you can make adjustments. If you fall short in building healthy relationships and honoring people on a heart-to-heart level, the damage is often irreparable.

Miller’s seventh book, available in March of 2019, addresses this very issue. Win from the Heart: How to Create a Culture of Full Engagement will be full of wisdom – hard-earned and articulated well. Count on it.

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