Thinking about a family leadership discussion I attended last week – the gist was we SAY we value certain things, and we mean well, but our ACTIONS often show that we’re actually placing a higher value on other attributes when measured by how much time we spend, how much money, attention, praise, …our family (or workplace team) just can’t hear the whisper of our words over the shouting of our actions.

Then, I happened upon a couple of really great articles by Mike Myatt, a Forbes contributor and Leadership Advisor.  The first, 10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You says almost all CEO’s will state that they have great processes for retaining and developing talent – yet the talent feels pretty differently. The second article, Why You’re Not A Leader is simply brilliant – perhaps because I’ve encountered so many egos masquerading as leaders lately – but I think his points really focus on where we all sometimes fail in the leadership department.

Click on the hyperlinks above and go give them both a quick read and when you get back we’ll examine how we take the attributes that we all profess to value and how we can focus our ERP projects and other software improvements to put those values into practice, keep our best talent in the workplace and show real leadership through our actions.  Go ahead and read those articles – I’ll wait…waiting…waiting.

Good you’re back.

Let’s go through Mr. Myatt’s 10 Reasons Talent Leaves one-by-one and look at each from a software perspective (again, this makes more sense if you’ve read the original article and I’d even keep it open in a separate browser window for cross-reference):

1) You Failed to Unleash Their Passions – Are you driving top talent away with out-of-date computer systems that take them away from the jobs they love and turn them into endless data entry clerks? Is your warehouse guy, a dynamo of a fellow that likes nothing better than to move a ton of product out of the warehouse door being turned into a guy who’s grudgingly spending all his time pushing paper, printing labels, troubleshooting inventory discrepancies?

2) You Failed to Challenge Their Intellect – How much of your managers’ time is spent gathering, entering and massaging data that’s needed to create reports for higher-ups versus how much of your manager’s time is spent analyzing Business Intelligence data to discover new ways to get the actual work done? Are you running the business on the same static, tired reports that were designed and created years ago and generated endlessly week after week?  Or are managers using new analytical tools and self-directed discovery to analyze WHY the report numbers are coming up as they are?  Does your ERP system allow you to uncover underlying truth, or is it just an incomprehensible behemoth of data mystery?

3) You Failed to Engage Their Creativity – Given modern ERP tools that work for your people instead of against them will unleash managerial creativity in untold ways. As a Software Consultant, I’d like to take credit for the millions of dollars in savings new IT systems generate, but the truth is, I’m usually re-purposing a system improvement achieved through the creativity of a past client.  Originally something I didn’t see, something they didn’t recognize they needed, often something no one else had ever done with the software before. While no one envisioned this particular system improvement going into the project, once the tools were in place, the creativity of the management team was unleashed to drive new, unheard of, advancements – often saving millions.  Not that I’m not too proud to recommend those methodologies to future clients.

4) You Failed to Develop Their Skills – Yes your current DOS-based order entry system works great. Your people have learned to be fast and efficient using it. They’re also seeing their peers at other companies develop skills using the latest in mobile and cloud technology – a world that’s going to continue to be foreign and unknown to them – unless they manage to get out of your company. They’re realizing that unless they start developing 21st Century computer skills, their career marketability isn’t based on 1’s and 0’s – just the zeros.

5) You Failed to Give Them a Voice – If your current computer system was implemented years ago, and is difficult if not impossible to modify, you’re doing business just like you did when you installed it – in the 90’s (at least we hope it was that recent). Times have changed – business has changed – move to that new ERP system, and in the system design, configuration and implementation, get input from the experts – the one’s who are doing the job for you day-in and day-out. I cannot tell you how many CEO’s I’ve impressed with my thorough knowledge and vast expertise (most of which came from talking to (and listening to) his line employees the day before).

6) You Failed to Care – I take an occasional assignment from non-profits as my way of giving back. The overwhelming stated organizational value is “our people are our greatest asset”. And my question is, if they’re your greatest asset, why are you wasting that asset (their time) with slow, 10 year old computers and out-of-date software?  Amazing how many of those same folks have to work 60+ hours to get the same job done someone in the for-profit sector does in 40. Old time wasting IT systems may not be that bad in your environment, but really, top talent does deserve the top tools to get the job done.

7) You Failed to Lead – It may not be in your budget to improve efficiencies with new IT projects this year, but your competition is driving cost down, doing more with less labor and overhead – generally moving forward, which in most cases, looks like actual leadership – and ‘it’s not in the budget’ doesn’t.

8) You Failed to Recognize Their Contributions – In years past, IT and Technology was always justified with ‘how many jobs can we cut?’ Today, it’s all about getting efficient, lean and mean, and increasing market share without adding additional people and overhead. Imagine, if you can implement new software to cut labor requirements in the warehouse by 25%, you can also keep the great talent you now have, grow the business by 25% without adding additional people, and share half the resulting windfall with your workforce – meaning less future turnover, more costs driven out, happier staff – everyone wins. Align the incentives, pay your talent to stay, give them the tools, and bump your bottom line by 13% – that’s a good year in anyone’s book.

9) You Failed to Increase Their Responsibility – so you have a warehouse manager who’s running a really tight ship, knocking the numbers out of the park for the last 5 years. Help him by automating the process with the right software, now he can run a tight ship at two warehouses, then four – because technology scales, if you’ve got a winner, keep him winning – that’s using the talent you have to build your business.

10) You Failed to Keep Your Commitments – You brought these people on board and they’ve given you quite a bit.  Don’t you owe them the best tools to compete fairly in the marketplace?

Again thanks to Mike Myatt for the inspiration and original intelligence which we’ve shamelessly copied here. So if you’re looking for strategic Leadership Advise, please contact Mike – if you need tactical Software Application to put that leadership into practice, contact gh@genehammons.com.

Gene Hammons, MBA is a noted independent software consultant helping companies evaluate, purchase, integrate and implement business application software.