5 Tools We should all be using to develop our people.

Welcome to the new business age - for the war on talent.

I recently attended a major corporation’s annual conference where we were rolling out a mobile leadership development platform to aid in the growth, development, and ability to retain their talent. The number of conversations I had throughout the conference around the idea of “war on talent” evidenced that the situation is as real as the research indicates. These conversations deepened my belief that keeping talent is not only a problem, but it is becoming a crisis. In order to stay competitive in the new business economy, leaders and organizations are having to adapt and pour resources into talent acquisition, development and retainment.

Traditional ways to stay competitive:

  • Bring in speakers and thought leaders

  • Offer consistent training

  • LMS (Learning Management Systems)

  • Coaching from an outside vendor


These strategies require a level of financial investment and strategic commitment to implement. Unfortunately, this lift prohibits some organizations and leaders from utilizing them and winning with their people. I want to share that there are other, no-low cost tools and strategies that are extremely cost effective and allow your employees to unlock their true talents. When leaders and organizations unlock the talent of their people, they can win in a big way.


Because you cannot afford to NOT invest in your talent. 64% of millennials are planning to leave your organization and join the competition by 2020

So how do we avoid this from happening and create the competitive advantage for the future?




Of course perks are nice, but a ping pong table isn’t going to win the war on talent. What employees want are hard hitting opportunities for development, and the choice to invest in themselves and grow their personal value and career.


What are some options available for development already inside the organization:

  • One on one mentoring lunches

  • Actionable feedback

  • Career planning assistance

  • Personal Growth & Leadership time


Whatever the decision - these five “tools” should be applied to develop your people and win the war on talent.


Tool #1


When I worked at the CPA firm in New York, there seemed to be a work-organized happy hour every other week. Sure, as a graduate right out of college, this was a solid perk. However, we quickly craved additional value adding opportunities to boost our career instead of just free cocktails.


With the continued rise and use of platforms like Yelp and Amazon reviews, there is a shift in the demanded value of how we spend our time and money. The same is true for work.When the work environment provides people with a feeling that they are getting real value for their time, this creates something so few work environments have. According to the APA (American Psychology Association)  50% of all employees who didn’t feel valued at work said they intended to look for another job. This isn’t about how to cater to others everyday, but to authentically value them and be creative in how to show it. When leaders value their people and implement value adding programs it creates a powerful, lasting experience.


How to Implement:

  • Ask “How could this time/work experience be more valuable for you?

  • Identify someone’s “love language” for work

  • Ask what extra activities or gatherings would create the most value

  • Tell them you value them via an email, lunch, a simple thank you note, etc.

Tool #2

Provide CHOICE

I had the opportunity to chat with Bob Mortiz (Global Chairman of PWC) last year after he spoke to an intimate group of business leaders. He shared his thoughts about the power of choice. Mortiz said his company realized engagement and connections with their employees (millennials in particular) increased once they started offering the freedom of choice. One of the examples he shared was how they distributed a bonus: They gave their employees the option of choosing cash, gift cards, product packages or charitable donations. Most of them still chose cash, but it’s that power of choice that is powerful and unique - and free. (They also received an incredible amount of free publicity around this thinking.)


How to Implement:

  • Give individual choice in development opportunities to

  • Allow Input on future projects and ideas

  • Where the organization makes their charitable donations

  • What experiences they would like over the next 12 months

Tool #3



When my wife and I moved to Detroit, it was interesting to see some of the different expectations and opportunities given to young CPA’s. At my firm in New York we had a compensation model available so if we brought in new business, we were rewarded. On the other hand, we weren’t allowed anywhere near the business development meetings or encouraged to network with other young professionals. At a firm here in Detroit, they have first year accountants out networking during office hours, sharing their name and building relationships. I think this was a brilliant decision by that firm to provide a unique experience for their people in that industry. Providing opportunities strengthens the employer/employee relationship and instills confidence in your young talent.


How to Implement:

  • Introduce something that interrupts the pattern of their traditional work flow

  • Allow the chance to attend or listen in on an important meeting or phone call

  • Simply ask “What type of opportunity would you like to set up over the next 6 months?”

  • Give the CHOICE to what opportunity they would like to take ownership of (volunteer/networking/development)


Tool #4



One of the statements about Millennials that is off base is the premise they are all “job hoppers”. When you look deeper into the root causes of this “job hopping”, we find it’s actually an experience issues. Millennials are not “job hopping” they are “experience hopping”. It’s not just millennials either, people aren’t always looking for a new job, they’re looking for new experience. As a leader, you have the power to craft opportunities to create an environment that allows this. When talent is deprived of new experiences they simply see a new job as the way to secure these new experiences. By being offered varied, new or interesting experiences, employees begin to see work as a journey of exploration. During this time they are not only professionally growing, but personally growing.  


I remember driving to dinner one night on a rainy NYC night in a cab and in the back seat I was sitting next to the partner on the engagement. I kept asking questions regarding the work we were doing and how it helped the client as I wanted to see understanding. What I was really looking for was a insight into a widened/varied experience of the work and gain insight to connect myself to the work that I was doing. This experience and insight is rocket fuel for commitment and engagement.


How to implement:

  • Ask the question - what opportunity would you like to have in the next 3-6 months (realistically)

  • Bring young talent into meetings or conversations that are “above” or “ahead” of them

  • Have internal focus groups or lunch and learns to talk about cool changes in the industry or company to spark vision

  • Allow employees to shadow a job they may be interested in

  • Ask who would prefer travel, go meet with clients, etc..

Tool #5



Research shows over and over again that Millennials crave connection more than any other generation. They are not willing to show up to work, have surface level chats, and head home for the day. They desire to feel a part of a culture, a community where they are cared about and cared for.  They want to contribute to a community as they realize that the lines between work-life balance have become more blurry. Connection can be through communication or even being aware of why they are doing the work they are doing. They can feel connected based upon values.

We are all human beings and crave connection. Regardless of age, there is a level of connection we all need. Whether a connection in values, type of work, coworkers, clients or managerial relationships . When we can create and find connections it helps organizations connect their people and build an environment that matters.

How to implement:

  • Build relationships with coffee or lunch “meetings”

  • Find out what type of work/client has the greatest meaning or value

  • Have team meetings that focus on personal connections/positive

  • Talk about how the companies values match

Regardless of our level of influence as a leader these tools can be used to develop ourselves and others. These allow us to unlock the creativity, and engagement for those we lead. For ourselves it will provide more awareness for how to identify frustrations and areas for growth. We really are stepping into a new business economy where the rules of engagement are changing. Using these tools will begin to create the edge that allows leaders and teams to win.

5 Tools

#1 Give Real Value

#2 Provide Choice

#3 Unlock Opportunity

#4 Widen Experiences

#5 Create Connections

Talk soon.


Joshua Schneider