Whenever I interact with a CEO or a senior manager, I ask, “Who in your organization do you think is worth developing?” The consistent response is “All of my employees.”

When I speak with employees, however, the responses are far from the same. They include:

  • “I don’t feel valued.”
  • “My opinion does not matter here.”
  • “My supervisor could care less about me.”
  • “I have no future in my company.”
  • “I feel stuck in my current position.”

The list can go on and on. As a HR practitioner early in my career and then now as an academic researcher in the area of human resource development, I have witnessed a number of organizational failures due to poor people management. As a result, over the years, I have taken an increased interest in understanding the way in which organizations manage their employees. While it may sound like a cliché, I often ended up with the same conclusion: There is a discrepancy between values on paper and values in practice. Therefore, I am not surprised that so many organizations today are still struggling with the same personnel issues of a decade ago, despite the abundance of HR-related publications that offer a diversity of strategies, tools and best practices in people management. This struggle in managing people has become paramount to distributors in the new era where a multi-generation workforce, the onslaught of digital disruptions and valuing people as human capital have become the new norm in our industry.

In NAW’s brand-new research study, Optimizing Human Capital Development: A Distributor’s Guide to Building a Sustainable Competitive Advantage Through Talent Strategy, my colleagues, Barry Lawrence and Bharani Nagarathnam, and I present a core value proposition that underpins this book: Each member of the organization, regardless of his or her job title or position, has talent within. When that talent is properly identified and developed, the individual has the potential to make positive contributions to the organization’s mission.

If we decode this proposition, it consists of two essential ideas. The first idea, consistent with that of many organizational leaders I have spoken with, is that talent resides within every member of an organization. This belief is hopeful and positive thinking and will only become the reality when the second part of the proposition is taken into consideration. That is, the talent needs to be properly identified and developed. To properly identify and develop talent requires a number of conditions, including having the absolutely appropriate set of values, culture, strategies, tools and expertise. Of these, values are the foundation. Without proper values, the success stories in talent development efforts will continue to be few.

Distributors have invested a lot of time and energy to develop an appealing customer value proposition. This is highly understandable because boosting sales is the ultimate goal for sales organizations, and creating meaningful customer experiences is a means to accomplish this goal. Yet, providing customers with unforgettable experiences requires highly committed and engaged employees, which can be a huge challenge when distributors already struggle with recruiting and retaining the right talent. Therefore, it is time for distributors to invest equivalent time and energy to crafting an equally compelling employee value proposition so that their employees can gain quality experience with the company just as their external customers do. To help you jump-start your thought process concerning an employee value proposition, here are a few questions that you and your team should consider:

  • What do you value about each of your employees?
  • Do you treat your employees as an asset for investment or a cost to absorb?
  • What experience do you want your employees to gain from your company?
  • What stories do you want your employees to tell your external customers about your company?
  • What career path at your company do you want to provide to your employees?
  • How can you keep your employees excited about coming to work each day?
  • What action steps can you take to show your employees that they are truly valued and appreciated?

To achieve the desired business outcomes, you must first understand what you believe about your employees, because how you view them (their strengths, potential and contribution) directly influences the strategy you will adopt to manage and develop them. Chapter 1 in our research study presents a few core concepts that will further help you reflect on your perception of your employees. Remember: A compelling employee value proposition can serve as your company brand to attract and retain the right talent you need.

You may also want to read Why Employees Leave You.