Stop It! The Unicorn Does Not Exist! An Open Letter to Managers


Dear Managers,

Why do you spend so much time reading resumes and so little time investing in your people?  Be honest, almost all of you know that is true. When I work with Leaders/Managers, I always ask “raise your hand if you spend more than 50% of your time ‘managing’ and ‘developing’ verses doing your own job.  Maybe 1 in 50 raise their hands.  When I ask “how much time do you spend,” the answers average out to less than 20% of the time.

 But most of you spend so much time working with recruiters, HR and conducting long searches; trying to find the perfect employee, the one that will save the day, the “Unicorn.” But the Unicorn does not exist, so stop looking and start investing in the talent that you already have.  That will likely lead to your biggest Payoff!

There are many ways that you can invest in your employees and you should choose a strategy that best fits the employee and the organization.  Forbes identifies a great list of 10 Factors that lead to Employee Happiness (see "Top 10 Factors for On-The-Job Employee Happiness" Forbes, 2014).  At Apex we tend to focus on three great ways to invest in your employees, they are: 1) Develop a relationship with your employees, 2) Support Work Life Balance and 3) Provide Learning and Development Opportunities.

Develop a Relationship with your Employees: Spend time with your employees.  You are their boss, so they almost surely see you as having something they want (e.g. knowledge, access, opportunities, etc.).  So get to know them and let them feel that you are invested in them and their success both now and in the future.

Support Work Life Balance: Don’t have them punch the clock (unless that is required).  Allow them flex time to do the necessities that life requires and evaluate them based on their output, not their “butt in seat” time.  Also, acknowledge that they work in the evenings and on weekends and consider that as part of their overall work commitment.  This flexibility will go a long way.

Provide Learning and Development Opportunities: People want to learn new skills and see a path for growth in their company.  Spend time identifying their wants/needs and help employees get the opportunities that will help them to grow into those new areas.  Your guidance is something they crave.

ONE LAST WARNING TO YOU MANAGERS: if you don’t heed this warning, you should consider that your top performer is probably being recruited by someone else, someone who thinks they are their Unicorn!

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Tags Leadership Development, Work-Life Balance, Employee Development, Organizational Culture

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