Business Series Podcast Ep.18 – How To Retain Your Talented Employees and Allow Them To Shine with Gabriela Maldonado-Montano

How to Retain Your Talented Employees and Allow Them To Shine

In this episode, Ankush speaks with an international coach and trainer, Gabriela Maldonado-Montano. Some of what they discuss include:

– How to retain talented employees

– How to let talented employees shine

– A thought experiment on employee’s input

– A case study of a client Gaby worked with and her approach

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To contact Gabriela and find out more about her work, you can email her at

Full Transcript

[00:00:01] Ankush: Welcome to the business series podcast. My name is Ankush Jain and I’m a state of mind coach working with businesses and individuals. On each episode of this series, I’ll be speaking to a coach or trainer on a different topic relevant to your career or personal development. Enjoy. Welcome back to another episode of the business series podcast. Today I’m joined by Gabriela Maldonado Montano, who is an international coach and trainer, who has a passion for helping people shine at work. Welcome Gabby.

[00:00:39.04] Gabby: Hi, Ankush. How are you?

[00:00:39] Ankush: I’m good, I’m good, I’m very excited about our topic today which is, how to retain your talented employees and allow them to shine. I think this is something that’s obviously right up your street. It’s something that you’re very passionate about. I think it’s going to be very interesting and very fascinating for people to listen to this because both from a point of view of people who want to help their subordinates, people and their employees who work for them helping them to shine as well as people who are listening to this wanting to shine themselves. I’ll start off at the beginning which is, it might sound like a silly question but why is this important? Why are we discussing this of all the topics we could discuss why this one?

[00:01:24.06] Gabby: Yeah, this was very personal for me. I started working, oh my gosh, a long time ago I think I entered that workforce in 1991. And what I noticed right away, is that in all the organizations that I worked, there were people that were shining, that they were really juiced at work and that there were people that were not. I wanted to be the people that shine. And then I also noticed that there were some leaders in organizations that knew about this and that helped their teams and their employees do their best and that there were other teams that seemed to struggle. And I noticed that both teams, both sets of employees, had a capacity, they have the skill, right? They had the experience but something was going on. And so, from the beginning really, I was very interested in finding out what was the difference. How come there seems to be an environment or an element where people shine and then there is another environment, that there is another factor that actually makes people most like get very very dim with their experience and the possibility to to work. And so, the reason why is because what I discovered just even in my own personal work is that when I feel engaged when I feel part of the team, my production is better but I also, I enjoy the work. You know, and it seems like I command with better ideas. From working in a team it seems like everyone in the team just performs at its best and it’s fun, you know, as a person working and so I just think today is very relevant. We spend a lot of time at work.

[00:03:24.16] Ankush: And it’s really important for businesses as well, you know, I hear things, you know, phrases are banded around like the war for talent and a lot of companies whether they’re large companies or not so large companies. It’s really important to not only find good employees but really really keep good employees. And once you’ve got good employees is to get the best out of them and I know I’m not am I’m not a massive sports fan but I certainly see this in the world of sports where, you know, people are buying soccer players, for example, and you know there’s one thing getting a great player. It’s another thing getting the best other out of that player and the same thing can happen, you know, in the workplace. So, I’m looking forward to us unpacking this a little bit because I think it can be really really relevant to people listening. Let’s kind of jump in because this two parts to this so, or maybe I’ll ask you this seems like there’s two parts to this. There’s one part which is, how do you retain talented employees? And the second part is how do you get them to shine. Do you actually see them as two separate things or is it the same thing?

[00:04:35.01] Gabby: That’s a great question. I think when you help your workforce, your team, to feel engaged, there is retention and a side effect is the shining. You know, and there is definitely a way to do that. Then I think you know I live in the Silicon Valley and so, what I’ve been noticing is that, there is this effect of people being in a job for like six months. You know, and then getting another job, getting another job and getting another job. And these are very talented people and they’re expensive people. Right? So it’s just very interesting because in the work of large companies retainment is an issue. People aren’t paying attention to retainment. Except that it’s done through a very superficial level, in my opinion, you know, like points and we’re not going to give you, you know, Starbucks cards if you do well and all of that. And so even though there seems to be an attention to it, it is not to the point where really people feel committed, you know? What we want is we want our workforce to develop the mentality of ownership. Like, you know, we own the business we are willing to really put our best foot forward and so that’s what we want to do. So I don’t see them as two different things. I think there almost a side effect, right? We want to retain people but we don’t want them just come to work, right? We want them to actually perform at their best. We hire people because of their skills. We hire people because of their experience. And there’s the third element. We are betting that these people are going to bring something into our companies that are going to make our companies better, right? They’re going to be putting out products, are going to be increasing sales. That it’s almost like a bet that if I hire you you’re really actually are going to increase the value of my company. And that’s the element that we want to talk about because that’s the element that companies put to lease effort on. You know, it’s like invisible element.

[00:06:57.13] Ankush: That’s so interesting because, you’re right, I know, you know, I haven’t been in a corporate job for a few years but I remember when I was looking the last time I was looking for a corporate job and you’re looking around at who are good employers and what do they do. It was always things, okay, this company is a good employer because they allow flexible working because they give discounted meals at lunchtime because they’ve got, you know, good benefits in terms of maybe they give a company car or things like that. But actually if I think about even my own career, where did I feel the most engaged where did I feel the greatest sense of ownership? Where did I do my best to work? It was it was almost the opposite. It was, it was had nothing to do with that. It was really a different energy, I would say, of the team that I was working in so I can really understand where you’re coming from. Would you say that, that stuff, you know, because you talked about people bring the energy in the wrong place, would you say looking at things like, you know, flexible working, would you say that has no impact or would you say on its own you know it’s kind of really missing the key ingredient?

[00:08:15.27] Gabby: I think you can have two companies with flexible time and you can see a really different performance, right? So, if you have a company that understands, that understands that their employees are valuable. And as part of that, comes with an initiative to have flexible time, right? I think that’s fantastic. But I think you’ll see companies that will have flexible time but they don’t have an understanding and their results will be different. So, I think anything that comes out from a real, a real sense of understanding the value of your employees and value of your workforce. And you know it’s very fascinating because employees understand when their companies value their work or not. And with my client it’s like the number one element of wanting to stay in the company. When an employee feels like you know what, maybe it’s a demanding job maybe I don’t have flexible work hours but I feel valued. My, and I feel like, the company really understands that the way that I contribute is important. They’re willing to stay, right? And so any idea that comes from it whether it’s, you know, giving discounted meals or, you know, we’ll do your laundry or whatever, if it has the tone of appreciation and value it’s going to work. But if you have it just a simple technique without that understanding the results are different.

[00:10:05.16] Ankush: So what I’m hearing is, if it’s without the genuineness, without the feeling of you are valued and what I hear you saying is that, any one whether employees or not we know when we’re being valued or not, we know when other people feel that way about us.

[00:10:21.15] Gabby: Absolutely. You know I think in preparation for this interview, you and I talked about an experiment that somebody was doing about. What is the best way to get people to work at their best? And they did an experiment where they would give them a toy, i think they had to put together. And the people that developed that sense of ownership, you know, that mentality of ownership were the people that their project got integrated into the the next step. The people that showed up but they were not as engaged, were the people that their toy, in this case, was not considered as something important and their next step, right? So, it is important for employees to realize this. To realize that you are paying people to do work, right? That’s why we pay people. And so, if we are not considering their output important, then why are we paying them? Why are you hiring them? And so, it’s really essential, I think for companies and for business owners to get very clear as to why are we hiring the people that are hiring? And if they are working, right? We really need to incorporate that in the large picture, so it’s essential.

[00:11:56.02] Ankush: It’s a very good question I’ve never really thought about it that way. Also, clearly, as you’ve put it, you’re hiring people to deliver an output that’s valuable. Now, if it’s not valuable why are you hiring them? That’s a very succinct way of putting it. I’d love to, have you got any case studies or examples? I know you worked with so many people of either where, you know, there’s been a shift and it’s brought out the best in people or maybe where companies don’t see this and no matter how good someone is they, they end up leaving.

[00:12:24.17] Gabby: You know, I have actually a case study that really shows both. With this executive level person. Lots of years in her field, I think like 30 years, has worked for the top companies here in Silicon Valley, and left the workforce for a little bit due to a personal situation. Came back into the workforce and actually people were head hunting her the whole entire time that she was off, right? And they would, they would, you know, the honeymoon period in the company where it’s like a come to work with us and offered her a great plan, financial plan, a bonus, a hiring bonus, I mean, just a real solid package. There was something very interesting because right after that, like six months after that, I talked to her and she was just like well, you know, I left the company and I was like what happened? It’s like, they’re not letting me do my work. They’re not letting me do what I do, right? So, she would do all this preparation and then nothing was incorporated. Her work was not incorporated because the person above her had her own plan, had her own agenda. This happened, at like for two years, every six months. So now I’m thinking this because this is what you tell me they’re asking me for the bonus, right? Well through the negotiation that she did because she’s very bright, she would always get her bonus. So now you have four companies losing the bonus, a hiring bonus, and not only a hiring bonus but an excellent person with lots of experience. I mean, this is a do-er. She is intelligent, she’s bright, she’s productive. And so finally, she had lunch with another another company and actually was the CEO of the company and said you know, this is what I can offer you. She did not, he did not give her a hiring bonus. And so she’s been there for a while. The difference that she’s talking about is, they actually incorporate and value what I’m doing. You know, it’s almost like they hire her to do a job and they’re letting her do her job. And so she’s engaged. She’s productive and I cannot tell you the number of companies where that doesn’t happen. Right? Both actually in the for profit and non-profit. I have been with, you know, the top management or executive management and they’re doing things that any one of their employees could be doing. And so, that is the fastest way to get people disengaged.

[00:15:04.05] Ankush: So what would you say to someone who’s listening to this who knows they’re good, who knows they’re talented and maybe they’re finding themselves in a company where their work’s not being integrated. They don’t feel valued. What would you say to them?

[00:15:15.00] Gabby: It’s a great question. You know there’s always think the possibility of having a conversation with your supervisor. There’s another case there, study actually that’s coming to mind, where I was working with, with an employee, and she referred to this term of managing up. Right? So, she was actually a manager. She says, “I have my team that I help with but then I’m also in the position of having to help my supervisor in managing her.” Right? Helping her see how I could shine. So, I think that’s a real possibility that the idea how do we help either our team or our supervisor to see something valuable in the process of valuing the work, right? Because at the end of the day, in this case her manager was freed to do the work that she was supposed to do. And so it just as a win win situation when people understand this.

[00:16:23.22] Ankush: I love that. I’ve been working with someone who is a senior leader within an organisation and, you know, he was feeling stressed and undervalued and I agree with you. I think there’s there’s two parts to it. One part is having a conversation and letting people know, I love the way you put it, letting them know how they can get the best out of you and I think that’s always you talked about again ownership earlier on. I think if you really take ownership of your situation and where you’re at in your career then that’s kind of the first step. And when my client did that, it really change things in his organisation and he found that his superiors were really valuing him way more than he even thought they were. But that wasn’t immediately obvious to him. So, so I totally agree with you. What’s also interesting is, I think the flip side can be true that sometimes I found clients of mine who, the real, the best thing for them would be to leave because they are not really valued and sometimes what’s happened on the flipside is the fear has kind of overtaken them around. I don’t know how it’s going to work out. And they’re also not they’re not letting themselves shine. And so I think it’s probably useful in it maybe in the context of this conversation is, have a think around what it would really take to let yourself shine and at the first that it might be having that conversation internally. But if that’s not happening it’s like, well, allow yourself to shine elsewhere. Would you agree with that?

[00:18:02.12] Gabby: Absolutely. You know, I have a client right now that this became really obvious to her. Really obvious. And you know, it’s really wonderful to see her journey of, you know, her having conversations with her superiors and then having conversations with HR and then at one point realized and you know what? This is just never gonna happen in this environment at this time. And so she’s taken herself out of the, out of the equation, out of this company. And she’s she’s doing it as we’ve been working together with more clarity and less fear, right? And she says, you know, it’s not going to be rush, it’s going to be a process where I need to step back and just really assess what is the best company for me. And so, I love that. There is never I think a one answer, you know, sometimes in having conversations with your upper management or with the person right, you know, that’s supervising you. That will happen and sometimes it will be evident that this is just not the company for you, right? And so, I think there is a way of realizing that and seeing what would be the next logical step to take with clarity and a sense of equilibrium and uncertainty too.

[00:19:15.12] Ankush: So what’s the one takeaway you want our listeners to leave the show with?

[00:19:22.05] Gabby: You know I just really want for companies or business owners to realize that we spend so much time and money hiring people and strategic planning, in setting goals, in acquiring these technical tools. And all of that is powered by people. All of it is powered by people. And if we understand that valuing the work of our employees is the best way for the employees to value coming to work, right? They feel engaged, they feel passionate, they feel inspired, they will put out the best work possible and so it’s in our best interest to pay attention to that element because that is the element that will fuel the success of the company.

[00:20:16.15] Ankush: Thank you so much for your time today, Gabriella. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. If people want to get hold of you if they want to find out more about the work you do, how can they do that?

[00:20:28.16] Gabby: Yeah. So, it’s

[00:20:34.06] Ankush: Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure having you on the show and I’ll be back next time with another interviewee and another topic relevant to business.

[00:20:41.13] Gabby: Thank you so much Ankush.

[00:20:41.13] Ankush: Thanks for listening to the business series podcast. If you want to hear more, you can click on the Subscribe button below. You can share this with someone else who can benefit or you can like it and encourage others to listen. Also it would be great if you left a comment below. As I love hearing from listeners and I want to keep creating great content for you. Thanks for listening.


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