Cultivating Success: Finding and Retaining Talent

Talent is at the heart of every successful organization. Last week, I explained why many organizations fail to attract and retain talent by approaching the problem the wrong way. This week, I’ll explain how to improve your organization’s ability to find and keep the best people.

In Adaptive Capacity, Juan Carlos Eichholz describes five key variables that determine the level of talent in an organization. They are identification, ripening, feedback, challenge and models.


No organization can attract talented individuals if it isn’t sure of its core values and competencies. If you’re unsure of what these are, consider enlisting the help of an executive coach. If you’ve already done this work, you’re off to a great start.

According to Eichholz, identifying the kind of talent that will boost your organization’s bottom line requires that you translate your core values into “a set of attitudes and behaviors that you expect all of your employees to embody.” These can then be translated into a set of hiring criteria.


Eichholz uses gardening as a metaphor for cultivating adaptive capacity. Good leaders supply the resources that allow their employees to flourish. If you see an employee struggling, ask yourself what you can do as a manager to help them succeed. Talk to them. Have open and honest conversations about what they need to become high achievers. And don’t focus solely on those you consider the best and brightest; highly adaptive organizations invest in all of their employees.


It can be scary to ask others for feedback, but it’s a crucial investment in a positive organizational culture. Whenever possible, give constructive feedback. Don’t just tell your employees what they’ve done wrong. People are much more responsive to positive feedback than negative feedback. Make it clear that you expect the same kind of feedback in return.


Many leaders avoid creating challenges for their employees in order to reduce stress. However well-intentioned, this approach only leads to stagnation. As Eichholz writes, “if there are no challenges available, talent will depart and the organization will stagnate—and this reduces the number of challenges still further, creating a vicious cycle.”

This aspect of talent development requires leaders with vision who are willing to take risks. Once again, communication is key. Talk to your employees. Ask them if they have ideas for new projects or initiatives. Encourage them to express their opinions.


Leadership shouldn’t just come from the top down—ideally, it should be distributed throughout your organization. The most adaptive and successful organizations encourage their most talented employees to take on leadership roles in whatever capacity they can. If you’re in a leadership position, start by asking yourself if you’re modeling the kinds of characteristics you look for in new hires. Then, ask what you can do to help others become better models to attract new talent.

If you initiate these five steps, you’re already on the path to attracting and retaining the best people for the job.

Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Many organizations struggle to execute these steps. An executive coach can help you get on the right track. If you’d like to discuss what your organization can do to make the most of its talent, please get in touch. You can reach me via my website, LinkedIn and Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *