Avoid These Talent Management Mistakes in a Recession.

A deep recession with a very slow recovery has ushered in an era of doing more with less in the workplace. We know the Security Industry has not been immune to this. Fewer resources, less staff, fewer supplies, lower budgets, lower wages, and fewer benefits and so on. Even with these harsh realities there is still the need to deliver goods and services, protect people and assets and provide security in a proactive manner. That means, even with limited resources and more pressure to perform than ever before, workplaces must still find ways to engage the existing workforce in order to achieve objectives. Unless leaders focus on strategies to manage their current talent, it is easy to make mistakes and lose good employees, even in a recession.

10 talent management mistakes to avoid in a recession:

1.       Assuming your employees won’t leave – There are still high quality security jobs despite the current economy and high level of unemployment nationally. If your organization’s top talent feels unappreciated or if the work environment is intolerable they will find something else to do, recession or not.

2.      Hiring the wrong candidates – The high unemployment rate sometimes will yield floods of applicants per one job opening. It can be tempting to short cut the screening process. But in doing so the risk of hiring the wrong candidate for a key security management role increases. So, what is the bottom line to this mistake? Hiring the wrong employee is expensive – anywhere between two and three times the annual salary. It can be disruptive to the work environment resulting in an even higher cost. However, hiring the right employee has a return on investment in increased productivity and team morale.

3.      Ignoring red flags or failing to resolve serious issues – As the saying goes, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” It is one thing to allow team members to work out problems on their own; it is quite another matter when you see people leaving or a pattern of serious complaints cropping up. It is critical you determine minor problems from serious issues and when and how to properly intervene.

4.      Underestimating the capability of team members – Take the time to know your team. Invest in them. For team members who aspire to take on more responsibility, learn more, do more, accomplish more: there is nothing else more demoralizing than feeling like they are put into a box where they are assumed to have limits. An example is assuming someone is “too green” and rushing in and plopping solutions on them without giving them the consideration that they may have ideas or thoughts of their own.

5.      Failing to develop your bench – Tight budgets make training and development an easy target for cuts. However, investing time in people development initiatives is a proven method that pays off. Learn what motivates your team members. People really do want to succeed at their craft and are generally motivated to do so. Helping team members to utilize appropriate development methods earns you trust and respect which leads to greater engagement and effort from them. Take a really close look at team member potential and determine a development plan for each of them. Putting someone on a project that requires them to stretch their thinking and capability could be just the ticket to jump start their performance and offers a great development opportunity.

6.      Showing disrespect – You can have a nice title and a fancy office, but unless you have followers you are not a leader. The truth is yelling, cursing, micro-managing and creating an environment of intimidation may yield short-term results, but in the long-term this behavior will cause distrust, loss of productivity, and eventual turnover of employees. In an era where organizations need to improve results financially, with their overall security, as well as on customer service and quality initiatives it is critical to engage employees. This is achieved by creating an environment of trust, communication, integrity and responsibility.

7.      Confusing accountability with blame – It is one thing to hold people to the agreed upon goals and objectives, it is quite another thing to blame them for things they have no control over.

8.     Sacrificing quality, ethics and integrity – The headlines are littered with prime examples (recent ones include Toyota and News of the World) of how poor quality decision making can potentially destroy a company. In a time where cost cutting measures are necessary, short cutting quality and common sense can lead to disaster.

9.      Lack of or minimal communication – Another common mistake is to avoid communicating. Unless heads are in the sand, employees know the news is not always good. Communicate early and frequently especially during tough times. Communicating facts will help dispel misinformation and prevent needless worry which leads to a variety of problems including low productivity.

10.  Failing to recognize a job well done – The pressure of managing in a tougher economic climate makes it is easy for managers to primarily focus only on security, risk management and financial issues and overlook what is going right. Even when being bombarded with reports indicating security breaches, revenue losses, increases in expenses or regulatory pressures, it is critical to take the time and thank team members for a job well done. After all, employees are also feeling the strain of the recession with many possibly facing foreclosures, credit issues and shrinking retirement accounts. A sincere thank you in the workplace goes a long way.

Leaders can avoid these mistakes and at minimal cost. The return on investment can be significant including increased productivity, healthy work environment, and satisfied employees and customers. Who doesn’t what that?

David Lammert

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