I recently had an opportunity to attend a conference that focused on talent. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining good talent can be a challenge. Thirty years ago, companies chose the talent. Today, it appears the talent selects the company. At the conference, I reflected on some ideas that serve as good reminders when thinking about talent.

Encourage Feedback

Allow constructive and honest feedback from direct reports by allowing that type of dialogue in a safe environment. Encourage others to share feedback and then be an active listener. I remember a quote that has stayed with me: “Listening is different than waiting to speak.” In addition to encouraging feedback, how we respond to that feedback is equally important. Responding negatively or in a way that discourages conversation will likely result in a decrease in constructive feedback.

Accept Feedback

There is great value in having critics around to give feedback. The best critics provide honest feedback and an opportunity to learn. However, a critic is different than a saboteur. Saboteurs are focused on themselves, and it is unlikely they will be a good cultural fit. In addition to saboteurs, passive individuals can cause problems. Passive individuals are difficult to understand. When it is unclear if a passive individual is helping or hurting, it can be more challenging than knowing. For example, a gas gauge that works intermittently is often worse than a gas gauge that doesn’t work in any capacity.


Mentoring has become a big part of assimilating new talent into an organization. A good mentor will encourage others to become engaged and provide an in-depth understanding of the culture. However, if the foundation of the mentor relationship is not strong, it may not be as successful. The conferenced claimed that on a scale of 1 – 10, the relationship score must be higher (stronger) than the issue score on the scale. Typically, if a relationship is weak, then the issues and value of the relationship will also be weak. Spending time building relationships is very important. Additionally, it is important to accept that not all relationships will work successfully. Rather than spending time on a relationship that is not working, focus efforts on strengthening relationships that are working well.

The Right Fit

Today, the amount of technical talent a person has is key but not sufficient. The right fit and attitude are also important. A strong candidate must have as much EQ as IQ. This becomes even more crucial the higher you go in an organization. Keep in mind that EQ does not mean leadership style. There are many different types of leadership styles, and many methods can be effective.
For many companies, finding, developing, and retaining talent has become a major key to success. For some, it has evolved from a task strictly dedicated to HR to a strategy for the entire organization. In either case, strong leadership is crucial to success.
Continue leading the Interstates Way!
Jack Woelber


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