Today’s Morning Buzz is brought to you by Matt Horn, Director of Local Government Services for MRB Group, and third runner-up in the Bass-Hoover Elementary School spelling bee, circa 1984 (who knew you had to *say* “CAPITAL” when starting a formal noun…still bitter). You can see how far he has come in his spelling skills on LinkedIn.
What I am Listening to: The Relentless Podcast; stories about entrepreneurs local to my region. The title grabbed me, and the content kept me…
What I am Watching: The Offer – if you’re a Godfather fanatic, it’s a can’t miss…I am in no way authorized to proffer you an offer that you can’t refuse…
What I am Reading: The War of Art (re-read that title), by Steven Pressfield. Read it. Learn it. Live it.
We’ve hopefully lived through the Great Resignation and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re settling into the paradigm of the new workforce. That said, worker disengagement levels are still ridiculously high, and organizations are still battling it out for talent. Signing bonuses, salaries escalating higher than my weight during grilling season, flexible work locations…nothing seems to be working. The bottom line is that today’s workers simply have the advantage in the employment discussion.
So, what’s the answer (hint: it’s not a ping-pong table in the breakroom, or Friday kegs in the office – though call me if you’re thinking about that)? Unfortunately for all of your right-brainers out there, the solution appears to lie deep, deep inside the human psyche…in a place that HR departments and corporate recruiters haven’t had to think about in some time.
I have an exercise that I run through with team members and prospective team members as often as I can (I wish I were more regimented about it). I ask them think through two seemingly easy questions:
- What do I love to do (i.e., what would make it impossible to sleep through my alarm clock for the sheer excitement of getting to work)?
- What am I really good at (independent of the first question)?
Because we live in a society, and our organizations exist for some reason, I layer on the answers to a third question:
- What does the organization (and our customers/constituents) need?
Since I am an organizational nerd, I trot out my old friend the Venn diagram, and let it do its thing:
This helps me think through how best to allocate work, address professional development, or whether the person is a good fit at all. Here’s how I break it out:
- Zone 1 – The Sweet Spot: If you love to do it, you’re good at it, and we need it, I am going to throw it at you all day. I’ll have to physically kick you out of the office every single night.
- Zone 2 – Employee Xanadu: If you love it, and we need it, but you’re not quite there yet professionally, I am going to find you all the training we can get to move you into Zone 1.
- Zone 3 – The Danger Zone: If you’re good at it, and we need it, but you’re not a big fan, we’re going to give you only the work that the organization absolutely needs. When the assignment is complete, we’ll get you back to doing something in Zones 1 or 2.
- Zone 4 – The Weekend: I am great at eating hot dogs, and I really do love it. However, society hasn’t evolved to the point where eating hot dogs can be routinely counted upon to earn income or make a contribution to the greater good. If you have employees in Zone 4, ask yourself whether you’re absolutely sure that your constituents don’t need this skill set. If it’s patently clear that there is no room for a Director of Hot Dog Consumption in your organization, then you’ll need to see if there are other skills that the team member has that fall into one of the other three zones.
If you’re going to win the war for talent, you’re going to have to distinguish your organization as the kind of place that values team members more than the other guy. The best way to demonstrate this is to give them as much of the work they love as your organization can stand, and to commit to developing them into someone who’s consistently operating in the sweet spot.