This article covers the March 11 episode of Talent Experience Live featuring HR and recruiting talent expert Tim Sackett. A second-generation recruiting professional, consultant and author, Sackett provides ideal ways to develop internal talent, complete with anecdotes from his own experience.
In his work, Tim Sackett's found that about 90% of employees don't know their ultimate career goal, which means that only 10% can identify what they want out of their career.
He said to reach career goals, managers must push employees beyond their comfort zones when it comes to career growth, mentorship, and learning new skills. Most importantly, by:
- Leaders adopting an open mindset toward moving talent (i.e., losing talent from their own team, but benefiting the organization)
- A strong, transparent relationship between managers and employees
- Helping employees upskill through gig work opportunities
Watch Tim as he shares tips and tricks for mobilizing employees — and check out highlights from the show below!
A Natural-Born Recruiter
When Sackett says he was born into recruiting, he’s only partly joking.
When he was in elementary school, his mother started a recruiting firm. During this time, he used to listen to phone calls as she interviewed candidates (using skills checklists, by the way, because the ATS and CRM were things of the future).
Sackett's mother once told him, "Don't develop your recruiters. They'll leave!"
Employee development was seen much differently at that time. Now, however, we know the opposite is true: Employees will leave when they believe they aren’t developing or learning new skills.
Since then, Sackett has led Talent Acquisition for Applebee’s and Sparrow Health, and held several HR generalist roles. Now president of HRU Technical Resources, he shares HR and TA insights through the Tim Sackett Project. His book, The Talent Fix, details innovative ways that organizations can overhaul recruiting practices for more successful, sustainable talent acquisition.
Helping Employees Find Their Career Path
Leaders need to become “talent agents” for their people, Sackett said. The key is to use their experience and position to benefit employees and the organization through mentoring, skills development, and matching talent with internal opportunities.
He observed that some leaders are natural talent agents for their employees, while others tend to be more controlling out of fear of losing a good employee.
“It should be a celebration when people move internally,” Sackett pointed out. “Too often in the history of internal mobility, it’s been a negative for one person and a positive for another, and I think that’s where we need to figure out as Talent Acquisition and HR leaders — how to make it a great positive for both sides.”
Recognizing Managers Who Move People
Leaders and managers who are naturally great at developing employees need to be celebrated and supported for their role in strengthening the organization. Some organizations are starting to measure managers on employee development, and this is the right move, according to Sackett.
“It should be bragging rights to have people who worked for you move up," he said, "but it doesn’t get recognized.”
It’s important to remember that a side effect of great mentoring is losing employees. And this creates stress and burnout risk for these “feeder” managers.
“We need to prop them up,” Sackett said. “They need a break sometimes. We need to be cognizant of that, that it’s stressful.”
Fostering a Strong Employee-Manager Relationship
A positive relationship is key to mentoring employees. Sackett shared some creative ideas from his own experience on earning employee trust and loyalty.
Celebrate Your Employees
During his time leading TA for Applebee’s, one of Sackett’s area directors made a habit of spending one-on-one time with individual employees during site visits. Her mission? To discover their stories, which she’d then feature on the company’s social media pages. As you might expect, spotlighted employees were surprised and delighted.
In his various leadership roles, Sackett would mail handwritten letters to the parents of entry-level hires, thanking them for raising a good kid who was now a great employee.
Getting to know them as individuals, he said, leads to honest conversations about where they want to take their career.
Be Transparent in Career Path Mentoring
Full transparency is the way to go when mentoring employees. Be very open with them about how you can help and in communicating limitations.
According to Sackett, the approach may be, “I can give you a set of skills. You can use them anywhere, in any industry, but I don’t know if you’ll like it. If it doesn’t work out on either end, the one thing I can tell you is we’ll be very transparent the whole way through.”
Why It’s Best Not to Force a Square Peg
Employees will often disengage when they're unhappy with their jobs. Traditionally, what might happen? Managers will throw a bone – a small raise, for example – but the employee usually ends up leaving eventually, and the manager is unprepared to fill the role.
Instead, if team leaders are tuned in all along, they can help the unhappy employee develop new skills and find a better fit. (And the manager can plan ahead for a new hire to avoid a head count gap.)
The Value of Gig Work
Gig work offers a low-risk way for employees to build their experience and organizational knowledge. For example, a recruiter who has skills in another area, like coding or marketing, can try out these skills by working on special projects.
The organization benefits by using internal talent, and the employee builds skill and experience.
Sackett said he sees a lot of employees raising their hands to try gig opportunities rather than waiting to be selected. While employees owning their career path like this is ideal, it’s important to maintain transparency.
Managers on the receiving end should advise the employee to have a conversation with their leader before going further.
“Leaders don’t want to be surprised. They should be in a position to help,” Sackett said.
Employees will benefit most from gigs that don’t require expert high-level skills that need to be taught, Sackett noted. Effort-based projects involving creative brainstorming, such as developing a special program, can expose the employee to a different area and get a taste of what it would be like to work in a different department.
HR Can Help Employees Upskill for Gig Work
What if an employee expresses interest in a gig opportunity, but a manager feels they lack the skill level needed? That’s where HR can step in to help the employee upskill and learn so that when future opportunities come up, they’ll be ready.
Using Tech to Enable Gig Work
Technology like Phenom Gigs can help organizations optimize the gig work model. In Phenom Gigs, managers can create listings for short-term opportunities and share them through the internal job board. Managers can quickly match team members to projects, enhancing agility and closing skills gaps through on-the-job experience.
“As we hear the data around internal mobility technology that enables gig work, it turns out a lot of organizations are benefiting from that,” Sackett said.
Tying Financial Gains to Internal Mobility
In Sackett’s experience, managers place a much bigger emphasis on succession costs than the C-suite does. “The C-suite cares about being fully staffed. It’s difficult to have a pipeline of on-demand people.”
While managers tend to focus on holding down succession costs, C-level leaders are likely to scrutinize overspending on recruitment marketing, overtime, and headhunting fees. “Managers worry too much about maintaining financials on one side of the ledger, but they’re blowing up the other side,” Sackett said.
Retention and turnover rates are the most important stats to tune into. “If you’re not hiring to that rate, then you’re chasing your tail to be staffed.”
With a commitment to strong internal mobility, and allocation of resources and technology, managers and employees can come out on top of the equation.
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