In this series, my colleague Susan Rice and I have spoken about how HR can play a strategic role in financial services organizations. We’ve discussed that talent management is a vital business imperative, and given examples and ideas of how companies can attract, engage and retain top talent. We ended our last post with the argument that to get a competitive edge in the talent market, companies need to embrace innovative technologies.

However, none of these great ideas will achieve long-term results if the entire company isn’t involved. For a business to become a true employer brand, the initiative needs to get C-suite buy-in.

Culture comes from the top

Talent management is about culture, and culture comes from the top. The more leaders engage in the recruitment process, the better experience potential workers will have, and the better talent the company will attract.

Take a look again at Karmarama and its Dream initiative. The company’s culture shines through at every level and is visible for all to see—existing and potential employees alike. The same with Cisco: its employees are telling the world via social media that Cisco is a great place to work; so, top candidates will want to work at Cisco. Employees are ambassadors for their companies—a good experience will naturally attract top talent. These initiatives come from the top, and it shows. A C-level leader’s engagement in the talent management process will have a definite impact.

Case study: Metro Bank gives managers “licence to hire”

UK-based Metro Bank’s investments in its staff and diversity recruitment processes have had a significant effect on its profit margins. The bank follows a unique vision of creating “fans” instead of customers. This vision drives the recruitment process as “everyone must leave a fan”—even if they didn’t get the job that day, they’ve become part of the brand anyway.

Furthermore, the bank also trains talent managers to have a “licence to hire”, ensuring that they are aligned in how they assess people and are equipped to avoid unconscious bias and pursue diversity.

Metro Bank prides itself on its culture—“the M factor”—and encourages employees to bring their personality to work. The company hires for attitude and trains for skill, and sees its branches as community hubs rather than banks. An apprentice at Metro Bank, Olivia Giuri, said:

“Metro Bank has a really positive culture that focuses on the customer and encourages excellence, diversity and success. A real indication that it comes from the top but is spread through the whole organization is that our CEO, Craig [Donaldson], has been rated the number 1 CEO by Glassdoor.”

“Leadership is a choice”—Simon Sinek

Note how the apprentice, Olivia, calls the CEO by his first name—the surname is our addition. This is a great example of what Simon Sinek in the TED Talk below refers to as making your employees feel safe. He says that good leaders create trust and safety in an organization:

“Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. I know many people at the senior-most levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities, and we do what they say because they have authority over us, but we would not follow them. And I know many people who are at the bottom of organizations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders, and this is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them, and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.”

Watch the video:

As we demonstrated in this series of posts, talent management and culture are interlinked and need to be driven by the whole enterprise—from the C-level leaders to the interns. Only then will it shine through in your talent management practices and give you the competitive edge in attracting top-performing talent for your organization.

For more insight, read the following resources:

To find out more about digital HR in financial services or to join us at the Change Directors Forum and People Innovation Forum in London, contact Nicole Knott here or on Twitter @knott_nic. For more on transformative recruitment strategies, contact Susan Rice on LinkedIn.

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