Read it in the September 2023 issue of HR Professionals Magazine

Our tendency is to always keep our eye on the prize. Too often we hear the end result being celebrated without appreciating what it takes to get to it! However, in business, successful results are produced by successful teams. Contrary to the popular idiom, we need to take our eye off the prize.  We must put it squarely on our team members – those who help our companies and organizations achieve their goals. Stop focusing on just the bottom line and start thinking about your lineup!

A team is most successful when its leaders embrace a flexible mindset that prioritizes growth of their employees in order to achieve growth of the organization. This is achieved by establishing a workplace framework that embraces collaboration, experimentation, and professional development.

As I explain in Fire Your Hiring Habits (FYHH), when a leader is flexible and ready to adapt to their team members’ ever-changing needs, the team can approach challenges without having to worry about “how it has always been done.”

I haven’t always thought this way. My career in management began in engineering and working on mobile electronics systems (aircraft controls; automotive radios; in-vehicle navigation systems) at major international companies. Too often, many companies embrace a “final product” mentality that looks to the finished product before looking at how that product is being produced. As I moved into management roles, it became important to me to evaluate how to best lead my team according to their needs and wants balanced with corporate objectives. This led me to embrace an “agile” management mindset that has changed the way I do business. This shift in mindset (and subsequent management success) is one of the factors that led me to write Fire Your Hiring Habits.

The Great Resignation Has Transformed into the Great Reprioritization. In 2021, news articles, blogs, and water cooler conversations were atwitter with tales of the “Great Resignation” where CNN claims, “almost 50 million people quit their job in the two years following the worst of the pandemic, citing pressures such as burnout, general job dissatisfaction, or childcare or elder care needs.”[i]

While sources claim the Great Resignation is officially over, there are still lessons to be learned from the mass exodus of workers. As I discuss in my keynote talks and workshops, business leaders are now facing a “Great Reprioritization.” After facing life-altering changes in the workplace, employees have reprioritized what they want from the companies they work for. This has made employee acquisition and retention more difficult. In early 2023, we surveyed thousands of companies in different sectors across the globe about how this reprioritization had impacted their employee retention. Unsurprisingly, a significant percentage of companies found that retaining employees was more difficult than in the previous year. Moreover, a majority of the companies noted that they were forced to raise employee salaries more than anticipated and offer more benefits to keep their employees on board (IPC Sentiment Survey, June 2023 Report[ii]).

While salary increases are a nice bonus, it is becoming clear that employees are looking for more from their employers. They want a dynamic workplace that recognizes their individual needs and meets them. For employees, old practices are no longer acceptable. Now, more than ever, the employee must come first, and team leaders must create a flexible and agile workplace to ensure they keep their top talent.

The living room is the new conference room. Teams must be able to collaborate easily whether it be face-to-face, or virtually. Over the past several months, there has been a call by prominent companies (Amazon, Apple, and Citigroup to name a few) to bring employees back to the office.[iii] Other companies, like IPC, acknowledge that the current workforce has a strong desire for a work-life balance that allows them to balance the demands of work and home without the long commutes. Employers must empathetically acknowledge the challenges faced by workforce members who are balancing elderly parent care and raising young children while nurturing their careers. Recognizing and adapting to their unique responsibilities fosters a supportive work environment, bolstering morale and loyalty. Flexible schedules, remote work options, and family-oriented policies enable them to meet both personal and professional obligations effectively.  Additionally, you widen your pool of candidates to select from.

Most importantly, agile teams know how to keep each other engaged and share ideas through new and innovative collaborative platforms no matter how many employees are in the office or at home. Now is the time to evaluate how to balance virtual and face-to-face interaction.  As I make clear in my book FYHH, the workforce is not the same as it was in the early 1900’s, nor the 1950’s or even 1990’s. We have the technology to help our employees communicate. Use it!

Throw away the training manual. Team leaders should be open to experimentation and input from their team members. Rather than relying solely on built-in processes, team members should feel encouraged to use their skills and expertise to find new solutions to old and new problems. For example, a few years ago, allowing employees to use AI systems to create content would be almost unthinkable. That mindset needs to change as employees and team leaders embrace the benefits and efficiency AI and other tools have to offer.

Old dogs, new tricks. Team leaders should make it easy for their team to adopt new skills. Emerging technology means that old training processes are becoming obsolete. Old procedures may be familiar, but they must be abandoned if employees do not find them useful. Are you training your employees with old technology? Change it! Is your terminology outdated? Update it! Top employees want to be trained in what is new and relevant. Make upskilling a priority.

Forbes recently noted, “Many US companies are offering increasingly higher salaries, signing bonuses, and other perks like student debt payments to attract talent. But the “Great Upgrade” is now becoming prohibitively expensive for many smaller U.S.-based companies.”[iv] The reprioritizations shared here are inexpensive to implement, but invaluable for your workers. Rather than pricing yourself out of the game, focus on these easy methods to keep the best talent you already have. Your employees are the prize! Keep your eye on that prize, and cascading success will be the reward.


[i] The job market enters a new phase as the Great Resignation ends | CNN Business


[iii] The Companies Mandating Employees Return to the Office (