T is for Talent
It could have been just another monday.
On what was turning out to be a regular workday similar to many others, I was on my to a colleagues office to have a brief discussion about ordering office supplies. Nothing exciting, certainly nothing overly inspiring. While walking, I ran into a old friend of mine with whom I had attended university a couple of years back. She was visiting the museum that I am currently working in and we quickly got into a conversation about "way back when". I asked her if she would like a quick tour, she said yes and I pushed back my meeting and started off down the hall, my friend alongside of me.
We shared stories, spoke about old professors and all the while, somewhat casually, I explained to her what the museum is all about, which projects we were working on and what everyone on the team was currently researching. Passing by a couple of offices where my teammates were working, we stuck our heads in to say hi. I introduced my friend as an old university colleague. We reached the final office where my "newest" teammate was sitting. She had come aboard our team a few months earlier and it was already clear that she was exactly where she was meant to be. Upon greeting us, my colleague laughed and joked and asked if I was giving a private guided tour. Typically, we only provide tours of the museum to larger groups. My friend laughed and said she felt "honored" by the attention. My colleague responded by saying, that she too knew how well I performed my tours of the museum and had also once been on the audience-end. It was a compliment that made me blush a little bit in front of my old university aquaintance. I thanked my teammate and we continued on our way, before wrapping up shortly thereafter and promising to have coffee soon.
Following the tour I returned to the office of my new colleague and thanked her for her honesty. Laughing, I said, "it almost sounded like my tour was the reason you decided to apply for the job." Something inside of me may have been fishing for compliments or trying to talk my own talents down, but I certainly wasn't about to take credit for her deciding to join our team. You see, before she had applied, the museum had made the decision to pilot a guided-tour concept that we could offer to the public once a month, free of charge. This was so that individuals who were not part of larger groups also had a chance to take part in a guided tour, which were usually reserved for larger groups, such as students. We were also looking for new methods of gaining attention and drawing new visitors to the museum. My colleague had attended the pilot tour with a friend, which I had delivered to about fifteen people on one friday evening. During the tour, we had conversed profusely and she asked numerous questions. We exchanged cards and made an appointment to speak further. Shortly thereafter, a position within the museum opened up and she had applied. After a lengthy selection process, she got the job.
She looked back at me and smiled. "When you gave the tour, it was awesome. There wasn't a job opening yet, so my intention wasn't to impress anyone as a potential candidate, but as soon as I saw that the museum was hiring, I knew I had to apply. You sold the idea of the museum well. It seemed like a great place to work." Somehow, I had been so focused on aquiring visitors for the museum, that it had not occured to me that guided tours could also be a vehicle to attract talent to the museum. This time, it had done just that.
Attracting talent can be a job for each employee, on any level
Her honesty impressed me, improved my day and made me think. I was grateful that she had mentioned this, because it allowed me not only to reflect my own performance, but also made me consider how I could address my audience not only as visitors, guests or customers but also as potential partners or teammates. As Talent.
How often do we, those of us delivering services to the public, overlook that while we may be wanting to attract visitors or customers or guests- our actions can also attract talent? Could it be that attracting customers and guests is more obviously associated with turnover and therefore becomes more obvious as a goal? While attracting talent seems to be something that only human resource departments need to worry about, who better can sell the mission and goals of an organisation, than those who perform them directly on a day to day basis?
Should attracting talent not be everybody's job? The fact is, I am a happy employee. I enjoy my job, see value in my work and feel as though my employer cares about whether or not I feel like I belong. Because my employer cares, I feel validated and know that I belong. I not only want to stay, I want to create new opportunities not only for myself and my colleagues, but also for my employer. In this particular case, this happiness came across and sold the message so well, that another person felt inspired to apply for a job and was able to come on board. What an amazing thing to have been a part of. Much more satisfying than ordering office supplies!
Going above and beyond
Everytime someone asks me during training whether or not employee satisfaction makes a real and long-lasting difference, I am surprised. It makes all the difference. We don't even have to begin looking at onboarding costs, or the cost of losing and having to re-introduce talent through expensive on the job training. This example is one of many situations where an employee felt comfortable, empowered and motivated enough to go above and beyond what s*he is/was supposed or contractually obliged to do, even if it was unintentional. You could argue that we would have filled the position anyway. I would argue back that the way in which it was filled led to a completely different relationship between the already existing team and the person coming on board. It allowed us to start strong. You can bet that when the next open-door guided tour comes around, I will deliver that tour with this story in the back of my mind. If it worked unintentionally, I can't wait to see what can be accomplished with strategic intent. Something that could have just as easily been a mundane task, became a central aspect in our strategy for attracting talent.
Who can you inspire today?
You never know who you'll inspire, when you'll inspire them and how. Just think of that one teacher, colleague or person in line at the supermarket who said that specal something to you that brightened your day. Can you give that to someone else? Someone who just may bring in their talent due to the fact that they were inspired by yours? Being inspired and inspiring others can also be a fun challenge. Challenge yourself. Who can you inspire today?