All companies have their challenges when it comes to talent, yet it seems that the smaller companies have a more struggles than those companies with more employees. They often have trouble even attracting good talent, and when they do, holding on to it can be a struggle.

When my husband and I were running our project management consulting company back in the ’90s, we were constantly being challenged with attracting and retaining the right talent.  We were caught in the crosswinds of a perfect storm. The Internet was taking off and the potential computer problems with the calendar rolling over to the year 2000 created a huge shortage of technical talent.

These were the days of Internet startup companies offering new employees stock as signing bonuses, with the future opportunity to become wealthy once the company went public.  Well, we all know how that worked out.  The majority of the companies never went public and most never survived.

And you can imagine how difficult a small private company had competing for talent with these venture capital-backed companies during these times. Yet there were things we could have done that may have prevented some of our talent from leaving. The fact was, at the time, we didn’t have the knowledge required to make the necessary changes within our organization.

So what are your talent challenges that keep your organization from getting to the next level? Some of them may be:

  1. Attracting great talent
  2. Gaps in the leadership pipeline
  3. Talent retention levels
  4. Developing employees within a multi-generational workforce
  5. Succession planning for key employees
  6. Creating a culture of high performance
  7. Developing new skills to meet changes in the business
  8. Developing effective leadership skills
  9. Building your bench strength
  10. Driving and improving performance
  11. Building and Leading Effective Teams
  12. Transitioning knowledge to new employees

These challenges often are a result of resource constraints, both time and money, especially in smaller companies. Yet the one big roadblock to attacking these challenges is leadership focus. Time and again I have found that even smaller companies are able to get over the hurdles of limited resources when there is a leader who values their talent and understands that talent is what can make or break a company. In the chapter on Your Role as a Talent Promoter we will explore how you can learn to become a talent promoter.

So how do you go about assessing where your talent challenges are and then determining which ones to focus on improving?

Here are the steps I recommend for companies, depending on the size of their workforce.

For smaller organizations with less than 50, start small. Bring your management team together and start by:

  1. Reviewing the list above, which of the challenges are negatively impacting your company today? Be honest with yourself.
  2. Which one, if you focused on it, would have the biggest positive impact on your company this year?
  3. Which one, if you focused on it, would have the biggest impact on your company’ sustainability and future success?

Once your team has answered these questions, complete the talent management assessment questionnaire. The questionnaire covers all aspects of talent management and will highlight the gaps in your system.  Once you know your gaps, you can develop a plan for improvement!