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TALENT'S IMPACT ON CULTURE, WORK AND CLIENTS

By: John Wells, President, RAPP LA/Dallas

Like those vicious February flus that ravage offices everywhere, the quality of an organization’s talent is a contagious condition. Hardworking, talented people want to be around like-minded high achievers; they don’t feel threatened by their peers — in fact, they’re inspired by them.

Gathering several talented people in a room does more than increase a company’s productivity, however. It creates a dynamic culture, which attracts, and later helps establish, effective long-term relationships with clients. What’s more, such an environment gives employees an exciting reason to get out of bed every day and solve complex problems with their co-workers.

Of course, there’s an art to attracting and maintaining bright, motivated talent. You have to search for the perfect candidates and help them develop meaningful relationships with the rest of the organization. You then have to constantly enhance their key strengths and make the workplace an outlet for maximizing their potential. It’s tough but well-worth the effort.

Molding Your Ideal Talent
Perhaps your biggest challenge as a business leader is knowing what role to play on the team. Sometimes you’ll direct from the front; other times, you’ll lead from the back. Teams want to feel supported, but they also want creative freedom to solve problems. The goal is to keep the heavy hitters doing what they do best while simultaneously supporting those other players who benefit from more guidance.

There will always be underperformers, comparatively speaking. They don’t necessarily have to be managed out of the organization — they may just need some mentoring or proper training. What’s most important is being honest and firm when identifying subpar performance that truly isn’t in line with your organization’s values and production — and doesn’t appear as though it can be addressed — then ensuring it doesn’t affect the top talent or deliverables. Those pulling their weight won’t stay long at an organization that accepts below-average work from its employees.

But you won’t run the risk of losing your key players if you give your team the flexibility it needs. Companies that incorporate flexible work plans increase retention by 89 percent, according to one study. This doesn’t suggest eliminating deadlines or lowering production and quality expectations but instead recognizes that instilling your team with a sense of autonomy benefits the organization and, by extension, fosters effective relationships with clients.

Eliminate the Fear of Failure
Employees tend to enjoy complex tasks when they see them as rewarding challenges, not as daunting obstacles. That makes it crucial to create a culture where it’s OK to fail. Every wrong answer is just a step toward reaching a solution. After all, we spend too much time with our colleagues to tolerate a negative and pessimistic environment. Keep it positive.

Yes, there must be an efficient and effective solution to every problem that arises. No one would last in business or maintain long-term client relationships if they didn’t accept that reality. But they also wouldn’t last if they didn’t celebrate their team’s creativity even when it doesn’t work. Business leaders need to respect the intrinsic value of unconventional problem-solving.

At RAPP, keeping our talent happy and inspired is a key objective. We set aside time and money to let our employees work on efforts they’re passionate about. They might spend time on a passion project or give back to the community. Whatever it is, we make sure they’re not confined to one set of objectives.

We also help employees transition to new opportunities within the RAPP network. We have an entire family of brands, and we’d rather cultivate talent internally than lose an employee to a competitor. Our mission is no different from any other organization’s: to bring out the best in our employees and create a more nuanced experience for our clients.

When you put special emphasis on cultivating your most precious asset (talent), the work shines and the client stays put. It’s as simple as that.