Friday, April 14, 2006

Environment or DNA

Last week I was in Chicago attending a conference of folks who these days come under the heading of “human capital professionals.”

Like most conferences this one was filled with networking, power points and pontification. The speakers talked a lot about what we at ExecuNet have come to call “retention deficit disorder.” Companies who are worried that the generational demographics coupled with an economic rising tide will translate into a talent retention nightmare. Could well be. Our recently released 2006 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report says that more than 50% of executives are unhappy campers, and more than 75% plan to vote with their feet in then next six months.

So what’s the answer? Obviously the solution is made up of a lot of things, but to me, it still comes down to something pretty simple. Retention is about relationships. Hell, for that matter, and to state the obvious, life is about relationships. Good ones and bad ones.

I have also always felt that relationships, be they personal or business are fundamentally driven by the attitude that each party brings to it. Hardly an earth-shattering hypothesis. I don’t know if it’s DNA or environment, but my bias is that people, and therefore organizations, can be sorted into two groups. They are generally either “givers” or “takers.” While the “givers” are going to be taken advantage of from time to time (probably because they are too trusting) at the end of the day, it still reminds me of the wonderful Maya Angelou quote:

“People do not remember what you say or what you do, over the years, but they never forget how you made them feel.”

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