Cisco’s Top 5 Business Imperatives for 2016— Something for HR

Author – Walt Pazderski

In the past I have expanded on ideas advanced by Cisco’s own Tom Filep (a very accomplished professional) who wrote about Five Strategic Insurance Business Imperatives for 2016.

If you look at this Top 5 Imperatives list, you will quickly see it is NOT just for the insurance business.  This list applies to ALL businesses with growth plans.

Tom’s Top 5 Imperatives:

1) Digital Strategy

2) Security

3) Collaboration

4) Talent Acquisition and Retention

5) Business Outcome Approach

Previously I talked about Collaboration.  Let’s look at another Imperative:  Talent Acquisition and Retention.  Tom reported that the surveyed business leaders indicated these are the important questions top of mind:

— How do we ensure diverse views are represented?

—Who are the business leaders of tomorrow?  Are they in-house?

—HOW do we attract and retain top talent?

—Do we have the capabilities and vision to capture the interest of tech-savvy millennials,  not just as a stepping stone to a better job elsewhere, but for a long-term career?

Clearly, HR is squarely in the middle of the conversations around these questions.

Attracting and retaining top talent is all about engagement.  People are engaged when they are receiving perceived value and/or when they are interested.   HR professionals know how to leverage salary discussions and monetize the value of a benefits package.  They know how to romance those special perks (Casual Friday, Pizza Tues, a Sun Spa on the roof…)

So what do you do when you have extended the very best package the organization can offer, played up all the perks, are almost at the point of agreement, but it does not seem quite enough to swing the candidate to your side?  If only there was a little more to offer…

One simple, inexpensive, yet powerful idea that will potentially provide more (a LOT more):   CAPTURE AND MANIFEST THE PASSION AND EXCITEMENT OF YOUR GROUP.

Great, but how does one do THAT?  Permit me, via personal experience,  to explain one way to accomplish this.

Early in my career I was looking for my next opportunity (the telecom bubble blew up in my face—company stock price went from $67.00 a share to $0.62 a share overnight).  I interviewed with a number of companies and narrowed the list to two.  One was “AT&T” (a role with strong compensation/benefits, a book of business waiting for me, and a realistic growth roadmap in place and operating smoothly).  The other opportunity was “bigdough”…

Exactly!  bigdough was a startup dot com that survived the implosion.  I would be employee #38 (there were only a handful of the previous 37 still remaining), have NO book of business waiting for me, and a roadmap that said I would have 60 days to prove my value or would be asked to relocate my desk….to anywhere else that was not bigdough.  Oh, to further excite me, the initial upfront money and total benefits package was inferior to the other opportunity.  And there was the issue of brand recognition.

However, the decision was more difficult than the above comparison might have you believe.  There was something about bigdough that greatly interested me.  Bill, the CEO was very passionate.  He was guiding a very diverse and talented group using a few key business principles and a fair amount of feeling his way along.  I saw the possibility of being part of something VERY exciting and rewarding….IF it worked.  Having just come out of one industry collapse, I was not inclined to risk that “IF”.

After 2 days, I was still considering, but was 99% sure that in 24 hours I would be accepting the better paying, better defined, better… almost everything position.

Then the Fed-Ex box arrived.  In the box was a hand written card from Bill saying something like (I now wish I kept it—-ahh…the folly of youth):

Walt—I know you will be a strong contributor wherever you go.  I hope you will join us and help build something great.  Bill

The contents of that box included a hat, a coffee mug, a mouse pad, and T shirt, and a sweat shirt—all with what many say (quite emotionally at times) is the GOOFIEST logo…EVER!!!  Nice try, Bill, but it will take more than $30 (delivered) worth of goofy chochkies.

There are those that will argue that was all it was, a box of goofy chochkies worth $30.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But they would be missing what was actually represented here.

This box represented a business leader excited by his vision, saw in me someone who was also excited by that vision, and could help him actualize that vision.  This box was Bill going out on a limb and communicating his passion directly to me.  This box was a direct way for Bill to connect with me to unashamedly say:  Walt, I LOVE the idea that bigdough is.  I am going to work like hell to make it great.  Come help me do that, what do you say?

What DO you say to an invitation like that?  Especially since I did see the possibilities….IF it worked.

The point is, as an HR professional you can set up programs that will take the passion of your senior leadership (and if they do not have that passion, or are reluctant to actually show it, you have a whole different set of problems) and communicate it in relatable ways to potential hires and established employees.

It is important to realize you can not settle on just one way to communicate, for obvious reasons. If your programs are organized and run properly, they can have a HUGE impact at relatively nominal cost.  The ROI is off the charts.

Effective, low cost ideas can include:

  • A well crafted Cross Media System—properly designed and run this will provide you with several forms of communication built into a single, integrated program!
  • A relevant, vibrant Recognition & Reward Program—it can be the element that sways those on-the-fence;  it can reward accomplishment in ways perceived very meaningful by the recipient.  It can be built into something worth mentioning next time you find yourself romancing those perks…
  • Clear and Understandable Communication of Available Benefits— be careful not to confuse what is clear in the mind of HR and senior management with what is clear in the mind of your “average employee”.  There are ways to design communication to insure you ARE clear…crystal.

Oh yes, I did join bigdough and Bill was right.  We built something great.  Now you know the rest of the story….