Tap into Talent

“I would rather be surrounded by smart people than have a huge budget. Smart people will get you there faster.”
— former McKinsey associate as quoted in The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel

I recently conducted some interviews and focus groups for one of our clients. They have been experiencing a lot of change over the past several months. Like so many others, they have faced budgetary cutbacks, downsizing, and trying to do more with less. Conducting this assessment was an opportunity to help them better understand current perceptions and lay the groundwork for managing ongoing change.

The thing that stood out for me during the assessment wasn’t the idea of navigating change; nor, the struggles of budgetary cutbacks or the toll layoffs can have on an organization. Those challenges have been all too familiar over the past several years. The finding that really jumped out at me seemed like a painfully obvious missed opportunity. This is what I heard repeatedly throughout the assessment:

• “They make changes and don’t include those of us closest to the problem.”
• “We’re the ones on the frontline—the ones who are in a good position to solve challenges.”
• “They don’t even know how some of these decisions are impacting other areas of the organization. They are too removed.”

The conclusion…people closest to the problem were not being asked to help solve the problem. Available talent wasn’t being used to address some of the biggest organizational issues.

There are certainly times that decisions need to be made “behind closed doors” and it isn’t appropriate to include a broader array of people. However, involving employees at all levels to help solve organizational problems does several things. For example, it:

• Uses the problem-solving skills of those who deal with the issues on a day-to-day basis
• Creates learning opportunities for employees
• Demonstrates that employees are significant—that their contribution matters

The leadership takeaway? Tap into your talent. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Involve those closest to the issue in resolving the issue. How do you involve employees in solving tough challenges? We’d love to hear from you.

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