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Elite Business: Converting the talent you hire into company value

In this article, originally featured in Elite Business: In a skills crisis, how can we find, train and retain talent, ensuring their contribution builds the business, not just their careers

To build your business into an Asset of Value that will generate income today and capital tomorrow, you need to build a team. Unless you have a purposeful team on board, you are up the creek without a paddle. Or rather, paddle you will, 24/7/365, which means you have a job. 

In 2023, British businesses advertised upwards of 1.4m jobs. Put differently, businesses needed to fill almost 1.5m job vacancies to sustain and grow their companies. Without people, you cannot grow and sometimes sustain what you have worked so hard to build. Yet our country barely released 400,000 people into our working economy. We have a skills and labour crisis, and it’s driving several outcomes that are likely to stay, including inflation, upward delegation, slow/stuck/regressive growth and disillusionment. Plucky politicians, including our current PM, dodge the issue, for which all sensible resolutions would be politically fraught and risk an uproar from vested Brexit interest, tax legislators, anti-globalists, and nationalists. The current rhetoric is that A.I. will plug the gaps. It’s a useful position where everyone slings the acronym around as a catch-all to sound smart, activate investment interest, and even win over new friends and contacts. It’s of no value right now when you are trying to build a team to take on the daily, weekly, and monthly operational activities that anchor you in the daily operational grind of sustaining your business, never mind growing it. You need people and talent to get going and growing.

This invites a conundrum. How do we source, win, and onboard talent where business owners and employers must gain equally from the relationship? 

Talent invites several risks, including competition to afford their hefty salaries, attitude and arrogance once talent is onboarded after the hard sell of winning their favour, and vulnerability when talent delivers value and holds you ransom. Of course, the risk of expensive talent failing to deliver is also ever-present and all too common.

If your intent remains building an Asset of Value, ensuring that you translate talent’s value into company value is vital. The greatest, unmeasured cost I’ve seen across business is the cost of winning talent and receiving value from it when the talent vacates takes the value with it. It is a horrible failure in leadership, too, and a mistake that should only ever be made once. Watch the session below to appreciate the true cost a business owner faces after 20 months of investing in unmeasured and unmanaged talent.

There are several approaches to guarding against this cost.

Should building an Asset of Value be your objective? Once you are clear on your company’s purpose, bring it to life by first creating a system of delivery. This requires you to translate your desired customer experience into sequential, measurable activities that can be taught, delegated and remunerated, including how you market, sell, deliver, service and administer customers. Once done, the value lies in your company. Alternatively, hiring talent to create this consistent client experience means that the value of that experience lies with your talent unless you can ‘decode’ your talent into a system that can be shared, used and taught to other team members. Grinding out the former option takes longer but is more sustainable and valuable. It’s also more affordable and ensures your time and attention invested in getting it right remains your company’s IP.

Perhaps winning the war for talent is less about the scarcity of able, capable employees and more about adopting a different approach to how you lead, build, and capitalise your company. Wear both hats: that of an operator who can build solutions to win customers and hold them through a consistent, dependable customer experience and that of an investor who ensures that all your investments in human talent translate into value that vests in your company.

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