You have to be a high performing team in order to attract and retain talent, said senior executive partner at Gartner, Steve Heck, at the annual Digital Transformation Conference and Awards hosted by IT World Canada.

“Success is magnetic – people want to be around successful people because they want to be successful themselves.” And, organizations need to use success to their advantage, especially in the increasingly competitive hunt for talent.

Success, Heck explained, is a high performing team, with higher levels of productivity, creativity, and more resilience.

More practically, high performance is a team sport – people are building off one another’s skills, you do not have people trying to undermine others’ achievements for personal gain, communication is natural and fluid, everyone’s roles are somewhat related, and everyone is focused on aspirational targets.

Culture is also a key factor, he added. It’s the behavioural norms, the unwritten rules that shape how you perceive yourself at work, how you behave and how it aligns with your team.

“You can’t define culture and impose it on your people. You have to explain it and welcome people who want to be part of it.”

Culture, according to Heck, has five dimensions that can culminate in more practical results:

  1. Purpose – Why are we doing the things we are doing and what makes it meaningful?
  2. Rituals – It’s the things that you do on a regular basis, because it is part of who you are.
  3. Identity – How does your organization perceive you? What are you known for or proud of?
  4. Support – How can you support one another’s achievements and weaknesses?
  5. Merit – Awards and recognitions of your achievements and that of your peers

But organizations can take these a step further and write down, describe, or discuss with a team what the behaviours and success in each of the cultural priorities look like, and assess whether they are happening.

Further, organizations should look into prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. That, Heck believes, means “welcoming the whole individual into the organization and not just bits and pieces, and creating deeper connections with them.”

The pandemic has made the search for talent more competitive, but it also forced us to design the work environment to be more human-centric in order to give employees a sense of autonomy and agency to bring their best self to the organization, Heck noted.

He recommended that employers assess what performance looks like in their organizations, what achievement and true success look like, and set benchmarks accordingly.

They also need to evaluate whether the current team is capable of achieving that high performance, and whether the managers are equipped to create and run such an environment.

Heck also pointed out that, when hiring, rather than just assuming that the person wants a job, and that they need to know about an organization’s brand and fit the job description, employers need to depict the influence that the prospective worker will have in their positions and how they can make the world and the things they are passionate about better.

“If they believe that you can help them reach their potential, make them more marketable, they will want to invest their time with you, in your organization,” Heck explained. “And you know what, maybe they won’t leave.”

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