CEOs polled by the Conference Board C-Suite Challenge survey ranked failure to attract and retain talent as their No. 1 concern, followed by creating new business models and cash-flow volatility. In today’s job market, highly qualified candidates are an increasingly rare commodity. To remain competitive, organizational leaders have been forced to focus their efforts on getting, engaging and keeping top talent. In this environment, talent management is no longer a bonus, but a critical corporate function.
Below, are some pearls of wisdom from the world’s top executives on how to more effectively manage and engage talent:
Nurturing Talent: “I view my primary job as strengthening our talent pools. So I view every conversation, every meeting as an opportunity to talk about our talented people.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
On-the-Job Training: “I’m a big believer in lessons learned. Constantly with the team we go over, why? Why? Why? … The only bad mistake is a mistake you don’t learn from.” – Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM
Connection Between Employee Engagement and Productivity: “You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.” – Renee West, President and COO of Excalibur Hotel & Casino
Continuing Education: “Teaching your employees something new creates an instant connection, and they will respect you for it.” – Taso Du Val, CEO of freelancer networking site Toptal
Executive Recognition: “It occurred to me that I never thank the parents of my executives for the gift of their child to PepsiCo. So I started to write personal letters to the parents expressing my thanks. It is always a positive report card. I won’t write anything else. The letters opened a floodgate of emotions. The parents are so delighted about getting the letter, they tell neighbors, uncles and aunts, and then the executives say, my God, this is the best thing that happened to my parents, and best thing to happen to me as an executive.” – Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
Encourage Risk Taking: “I think our biggest regrets, in most cases, turn out to be acts of omission. It’s paths not taken and they haunt us. Once I thought about it that way, it was immediately obvious to me. I knew that when I’m 80, I would never regret trying this thing that I was super excited about and it failing. If it failed, fine. I would be very proud of the fact when I’m 80 that I tried. And I also knew that it would always haunt me if I didn’t try. It would be 100 percent chance of regret if I didn’t try and basically a zero percent chance of regret if I tried and failed. So I think that’s a useful metric for any important life decision.” -Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon
Choosing Quality Over Quantity: “I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.” – Steve Jobs, former chairman, CEO and co-founder of Apple Inc.
Uncivil People Drag Everyone Else Down: “We have a strict ‘no-assholes policy’ at SpaceX.” – Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.