Win the Talent War: Natasha Bowman
Natasha Bowman is highly experienced in talent management and leadership development. Bowman, a.k.a. The Workplace Doctor, is a keynote speaker, professional trainer, and author, as well as founder and CEO of Performance ReNEW. She and her team offer guidance and support to organizations in implementing her proven strategies for attracting top talent and developing existing talent. Here she shares her take on the current job market, with a particular focus on trends around the war for talent.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
[00:00] Introduction and background of Natasha Bowman.
[02:34] The inspiration to conceive and build Performance ReNEW.
[04:02] Changes in attracting, recruiting, and retaining top talent.
[07:19] Expert advice for companies looking to attract A-list talent.
[10:16] Positive corporate culture strategies.
[12:20] Effective tools for management training.
[15:05] Measuring employee engagement.
[20:20] Bowman’s advice for her college-aged self.
[21:30] Contact Info.
Introduction and Background
An expert in talent management and leadership development, Natasha Bowman has made her career by helping organizations attract, recruit, develop, and retain top talent. She is a sought-after keynote speaker, professional trainer, and author, as well as the founder and CEO of Performance ReNEW.
The Inspiration to Start Her Own Company
For a number of years, in addition to her full-time career, Bowman has taught at various universities. While teaching at Georgetown, the dean referred her to a few organizations who had asked for professors or consultants to come and speak at their companies. She found that she loved consulting. She gained invaluable experience in a variety of fields and organizations. “It was a great learning opportunity for me, because not only is it a pleasure to help them meet their organizational goals, but I am also learning about the best practices throughout those organizations,” says Bowman.
Three Changes in the Talent War
In referencing the heated-up talent war, Bowman sees three main reasons for the recent changes. “The first reason is that the job market is great right now. Almost ten years ago we were in the middle of a recession, and we were scrounging for jobs, and you stayed where you were, whether you were happy with it or not, and you were just glad to have a job,” she says. As the economy improves, candidates and employees have more choices about where to work.
The second reason is that candidates have more access to what’s going on inside different organizations, and the perks and benefits they offer. Before, that information wasn’t readily available. But now we can access it through Google. “What does Netflix offer? Oh my gosh, they offer unlimited vacation, and they thrive on a culture of trust and entrepreneurship,” Bowman says. It’s not just the big national brands that can be checked out, but even smaller organizations. “You have access through websites like Glassdoor and Indeed that tell you what’s going on within that organization. So if I am a job candidate … I’m able to do a preliminary investigation on what (an) organization has to offer me, and then compare that to their competitors.”
The third reason is the millennial generation. “You have a generation that is requiring benefits and perks that are different than what organizations traditionally had to offer, so paying a good salary and health insurance isn’t enough anymore,” Bowman explains. “Now, it’s ‘how much vacation time do I get? Do you offer adoption assistance? Do you offer tuition reimbursement, or student loan repayment? Do you offer flexibility in your work environment?’” Having a new generation in the workforce is definitely changing the playing field.
Advice for Attracting Top Talent
Virtually every prospective employee will do their preliminary research of your company via the internet. It is your job to ensure that on the internet, your organization reflects the reputation and values that you want it to reflect. Keeping that reputation good is Bowman’s number one bit of advice. Her number two bit of advice is keeping a pulse on talent. When someone reaches out to her, she may say, “You know what? I would love to do an informational interview with you. I don’t have a position available for you right now, but based on your skills and your background, I think you can contribute to my organization.” Bowman recommends having that conversation, and putting the seed in the candidate’s mind about your company before that position becomes available.
She also advocates using websites like LinkedIn to see what talent is out there, being involved in professional organizations, and networking. You may also draw the right people to you through blogs and podcasts.
Positive Corporate Culture Strategies
“I am a big advocate of training your managers,” advises Bowman, “and having zero tolerance for managers who are operating outside of the scope of your culture, outside of your policies, and outside of your values.” Managers are a reflection of your organization. She believes that one bad manager can spoil the whole bunch and cause you to lose valuable, top talent.
“Hard-wiring your cultures and your values to your managers, so that is reflected to your front-line staff, is key,” Bowman advises. Her advice is born of education, research and experience, but it’s straight forward. Train your managers. Celebrate success. Make reward and recognition a big part of your culture. Creating that culture and having your managers reflect it is key to positive corporate culture.
Training Your Leaders
Bowman cautions that there should never be a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership development or management training. “There are different levels of managers within your organization,” she explains. “You have seasoned managers and you have new managers. Having a tailored, customized training, not just for your organization, but for the levels of leadership within your organization, will go a long way.” A new leader who has just been promoted to management will need foundational knowledge. She needs to know what she can and cannot do, and she needs to understand how to celebrate employees. She needs to know the policies, the processes, and values. More experienced managers need a deeper, more analytical level of collaborative training. They need the opportunity to learn not just from your facilitator, but from each other. “So that is the approach that my company takes,” says Bowman. “When we are customizing training solutions, I’m always asking, ‘who is the audience, and what is the level of leadership that’s in the training class’, so that I can make sure that I’m talking to each leader individually.”
The Value of Employee Engagement
Annual employee engagement surveys are now standard, and they are an important tool in the success of any organization. Many companies focus all of their engagement efforts on the data from those surveys, which Bowman sees as a big mistake. Though the surveys are a great tool, she recommends that they be used just as a starting point. “Organizations should look at other data that can lead to indications of a disengaged workforce,” she advises. “How many workers’ comp claims do you have? What is your organizational turnover? How many employees do you have on LOA? How many complaints have you got from one manager, or from one department?” She believes that by looking at all that data, you can create a heat map that pinpoints the areas that are disengaged. Data from an employee engagement survey can also be inaccurate. Some employees doubt their anonymity, so fail to be completely honest in their answers. Others may just be having a bad day.
Engage your entire team in the process. Ask them what recognition and rewards are to them, what training and development are to them, what career opportunity is to them. Ask them what would make their work environment better. “You will build credibility and trust with them,” she advises, “and they will feel like they are part of the process of making a better organization.”
Bowman’s Advice to Her College-Aged Self
“I really would have understood what career opportunities were available to me,” says Bowman. “I would have reflected more on what are my next steps, do I need a graduate degree, should I have done an internship, and I definitely would have done more networking.” Although she makes it appear effortless now, Bowman says it took her many years to do the level of networking that she now does. “If I had known those things many years ago, that would have taken me to where I am now, in this happy place, a whole lot faster.”
You can find all of Bowman’s contact information and the services that Performance ReNEW offers on their website. In about a month, information will also be posted about her new book, You Can’t Do That at Work.