Identifying and Retaining Talent Takes Specific Focus

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At a SIPA Annual 2018 session on Creating a High-Performance Culture Across Your Company, executives Brian Crotty of OPIS, Heather Farley of Access Intelligence and Christopher Mairs of Leeds Equity Partners spoke about identifying star potential in their employees.

“The first thing is you give them a task that gets done and you never hear about it,” said Crotty. “Then you give them more and more. They take feedback well, seek it out and become risk takers. They’re willing to get out there, fail and learn from it. It’s also a person that other employees gravitate around—that’s the one I need to keep an eye on.”

Farley recalled a junior reporter who was researching metrics on his articles and setting his own goals. “It’s usually apparent who’s engaging at that level and wants more [responsibility]. It’s hard though. I had  a young marketer who I loved—we gave her pay increases, title changes, but she still took another job. Sometimes they just want to be someplace different. We’ve created hybrid roles, trying to go off-script. We listen [to what they want] and tell them, ‘We can work that out.’”

The numbers speak to that. Young people graduating this year will have an average of eight jobs by the time they’re 30, Farley added. “As they get past 30, it gets a little better to tie people in—easier at senior levels.”

Kristy Keller, brand director, Access Intelligence, was SIPA's inaugural recipient of the Andy McLaughlin Rising Star Award this year. In an email, she wrote about a couple elements that have been important to her success.

"I am lucky to work in an environment led by leaders who have invested in my professional development and growth, and lucky enough that two of these leaders nominated me for this award," Keller wrote. "Heather Farley, our COO, and Jennifer Schwartz, SVP, have been mentors that I learn from daily. They have created an environment of "safe" entrepreneurship. You're allowed to completely own parts of the business, but you always know that someone is there to run ideas by or to help you when the chips are down."

Another part of that professional development process is leadership. “I don’t think there’s enough leadership development,” Mairs said. “[The star is] not just the person you get on well with. Corporations have changed from developers of talent to consumers at work. There’s a massive opportunity to have [a better] process in place. You need leaders in place who can take on challenges.”

Keller addressed some of that as well: "In the beginning, I was responsible for just the events within [a particular] business and was able to build a team that wanted to take on the challenge of working on conferences in an industry we had no experience in with a very new, very niche audience. Some of the things we experienced were firsts not only for us as a team, but also firsts for leaders at my organization."

Congratulations again to Keller and the other six finalists for SIPA's Andy McLaughlin Rising Star Award:
  • Allison Berlin, product marketing director, BLR;
  • Dana Byerwalter, editor, Prime Publishing/;
  • Katelyn Duggan, senior marketing manager, Simplify Compliance;
  • Laura Shay, editor, Prime Publishing LLC;
  • Scott Waldyn, editor, Prime Publishing LLC;
  • Stephanie Williford, CEO, EB Medicine

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…