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Recapping Navigating Choppy Waters: Talent Focus

October 6, 2022

On September 29th, Bolster hosted the third event in our current speaker series, Navigating Choppy Waters: Talent Focus. Experienced talent executives shared their stories and offered perspective for today’s leaders.

The panel featured:

  • Mark Frein, multi-time Chief People / Operating / Workforce Officer
  • Lori Knowlton, multi-time Chief People Officer

Watch the recording here.

Both speakers have experience navigating the challenges of hiring and retaining talent through difficult economic periods. They generously shared their advice for those leading and managing people during the current climate.

Avoid Extreme Reactivity

Our panelists see a couple common responses to the current macroeconomic environment.

Some leaders are overly active in response to the news they’re seeing. Others are paralyzed and fail to move forward. Neither reaction is ideal for your business. Even—or especially—in turbulent times, it’s important to make decisions that are true to your business and your strategy, not just to the external environment.

Not only can both of these responses steer you away from your goals, they can also cause your employees and stakeholders to lose trust in you.

“I think it’s important to scan the market and to understand what’s coming up,” Lori says. “Perhaps [leaders] operate more cautiously than they would in the past, or they would have three or five years ago. But (ideally) they don’t stop action.” Make the next right decision for your team, and then the next.

Create Trust

Cultivating internal trust is key to retaining talent. “It’s built every day, based on solid decisions and clear communication and transparency with your employees,” Lori says. Be honest when you update your team, and coordinate with other leaders to ensure employees are receiving a consistent message. Share your decisions and the reasoning behind them.

It’s also incredibly helpful to have a team driven by a common purpose or common values. Mark shared that this promotes a “feeling of ownership, a feeling of participation and a feeling of understanding.” When you combine that sentiment with agency, trust, and the met needs of your team, your employees are more likely to stay.

Balance Your Recruiting Strategy

We discussed the balance of internal recruiting teams and external services. Mark and Lori mentioned that without internal recruiting, you lose some perspective and some ability to shape the culture of your teams. They suggest an internal team large enough to handle your baseline of planned growth. Then, turn to an external source for larger hiring efforts or positions that require additional outreach.

Since your needs and hiring volume will shift, a blended approach makes the most sense.

Expand Your Network

If you’re looking to hire the best people, Mark says, they may not want to relocate. “Finding developers or finding talent for tech companies has become a matter of looking at the world [rather than local networks], which opens up a lot of possibilities.” That adds a different dimension to the search for talent and shifts the strategy behind recruiting.

It also makes the culture of your team even more important, Lori adds. “Your managers have to be exceptional, to work in a remote environment and to stay connected to employees all over the world, and to make sure their interests are served.”

It’s worth the challenge. Considering the demand for talented employees, especially in tech, allowing for remote work will allow you to source from a greater depth of candidates.

Finding Executive Talent

If your team needs to get creative with solutions or find executive talent to help lead through the current economic climate, Bolster can help. Reach out to us and we'll get you connected with a member of our team.

Did you miss the event? That’s totally fine—the recording is available and only 30 minutes long!

Keep up with the speakers:

Mark Frein: LinkedIn

Lori Knowlton: LinkedIn