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Do You Have the Right People to Meet Your 2018 Goals?

Ask yourself these questions…


Do we have culture by default or do we have culture by design? That’s the first in a list of questions whose answers may well determine your future success. If you hope to meet your goals in 2018 and beyond, you must first cultivate an intentional culture that attracts and retains top talent. I’ve seen far too many executives dismiss culture as something that’s hard to measure and too difficult to change. Instead, invest in designing a culture that is aligned with your specific values, strategies and operations. This is what will give you a powerful and sustainable competitive advantage.

Unless you’re a start-up, you already have a culture of sorts. What you need to understand is how effectively it supports your goals. These additional questions will help you gain that perspective and direct you to areas you need to change:

  • What are our values and what do they look like in terms of desired behaviors?
  • What do we do to create an environment where people feel valued, can contribute, and want to work?
  • How do we ensure that candidates are a good cultural fit?
  • How do we know that people are in the right roles for themselves and the company?
  • Where do we form small teams capable of driving real change?
  • How much time and encouragement do we give people to ponder, tinker, and create?
  • What kind of support and training do we give managers in helping employees set goals and provide frequent feedback and coaching?
  • How much professional, personal, and leadership development do we offer, and how much opportunity for advancement is there?
  • How meaningful and useful is our performance management system?
  • How flexible and humane are the policies that reflect our work environment?
  • How clearly have we communicated our purpose and mission and do they inspire employees?
  • How much do we trust each other—especially leaders and employees?


The best way to find answers to the above questions is to ask. Using whatever method fits, ask your leadership team, your employees, and your customers and vendors how they experience your company. What do they like? What don’t they like? What gets in their way? Listen carefully to their answers and probe for greater understanding. Take a hard, honest look and dig deep. Remember that some of the most difficult things to hear will be your most important feedback.

Another critical aspect of getting to reality is using assessments. Assess candidates for attitude and fit first and for competency second so you populate your organization with people who share your values and are likely to become fully engaged. Assess again to ensure that you have the right people in the right roles so that they and your business both thrive.

Change means that you’ll have to let go of assumptions and rigid or archaic practices that no longer fit in today’s workplace cultures. Think collaboration, not hierarchy. Think flexibility, not structure. Think fair compensation, not saving payroll costs. Think transparency, not secrecy.

Be aware of the two kinds of culture that exist in every organization: Big C (informed by your overall mission and practices) and Little C (driven by individual managers and supervisors). Make sure they are aligned and that both support your values and goals.

With this platform of information and soul-searching, take another look at your goals for 2018 and beyond. In order to achieve them, what improvements should you make in your recruiting practices? Finding the right people gets you halfway to your goals. Will these “right” people fit into you’re your culture as it is now? Building a culture that engages is the key to retention and gets you to the finish line.

Whether you discover that you need make only minor tweaks to your policies and practices, or find that you need to completely redesign your culture, be brave. Change is hard and best done in stages, a few issues at a time. Comfort yourself in knowing that by finding, keeping, and growing the best talent, successful companies develop an intentional culture with engaged people who are aligned with their goals and excited to contribute every day. That’s a description of the future you.

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Kathleen Quinn Votaw

Kathleen Quinn Votaw is CEO of TalenTrust. Her first book, Solve the People Puzzle; How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, debuted in February 2016. Her firm has achieved several awards, including recognition from Inc.5000 in 2015 and 2016. She speaks frequently and advises CEOs on trends in talent and how to be strategic in developing a people strategy. Kathleen has served on several nonprofit boards including Colorado Companies to Watch and ACG-Denver. Reach Kathleen at kvotaw@talentrust.com or 303-838-3334.

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