Blog Post

Why HR Can't Make a Company Cool

Cornerstone Editors

Maynard Webb may not have a crystal ball, but he does have three decades of experience guiding high-profile companies in Silicon Valley. The former COO of eBay is a board member at Yahoo and Salesforce, angel investor and author of Rebooting Worka guide for workers in the age of cloud computing. In short, he has a front-row seat to the changing nature of work and talent management.

So when Webb offered a webinar on "The Future of Talent," our ears pricked up. Here are five new truths he believes everyone — from employees to CHROs — should take to heart.

Memo to CEOs: You need to be cool

As the Millennial workforce takes over, Webb stresses that the coming wave of employees needs to feel inspired and purposeful at work, and company culture plays an increasingly important role. But becoming a "cool" company is trickier than most people realize, and the HR department can’t drive it alone. "The CEO is in charge of culture and needs to pay attention from day one," Webb urges.

Memo to CHROs: It's all about employees

Today’s employees want to learn and grow and employers need to work hard to be the "employer of choice" for top talent, Webb says. "You have to start from the spirit of ’what can I do for them,’ not ’what can they do for me’," he says. The more companies invest in training, education and other perks, the more likely employees are to stay in the long run. Webb’s advice to companies with sparse resources is to make employee investments a priority, no matter what the circumstances.

Memo to employees: It's not all about you

On the flipside, the era of "company men" and lifetime job security is over. Which means ambitious employees must approach their own career planning more like entrepreneurs, acting as if they "get voted onto the team every day," he said. They also have a responsibility to pursue lifelong learning on their own. His advice to those looking to rise to the top: "You have to figure out how to take care of your high-potential career yourself."

Memo to recruiters: Recruiting is something you do every. single. day

Recruiting can be a fierce game, especially in the highly competitive tech industry. Webb advises recruiters and managers to constantly keep tabs on the top talent in their field so that when they do have an opening, they already have a list of the top five candidates. Keeping the talent search top-of-mind also helps with succession planning in both large and small companies. The challenge, he says, is to "keep a balance of retaining really special people, but also learning to survive once they leave."

Memo to managers: Push every person beyond their comfort zone

As a company leader, Webb says his job was to make people perform better than even they thought was possible. That might mean giving priority projects to top performers, even if they are already slammed. But it’s also crucial to keep a close eye on them to avoid burnout and reward them (and their families) for the extra work. He also joins the call for an end to annual performance reviews, which should be replaced with more regular "status checks."

Photo: Can Stock

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