Laura Harvey-Smith, Head of Training

The expression Talent and Engagement has been banded around in corporate life for a while now. It struck me that it’s not an expression heard much in franchising and there’s a school of thought that it should be embraced, for a few reasons. As a Franchisor, you need to ‘speak the same language’ as your potential franchisee’s and therefore ‘engage’ with them. As a Franchisee, you want to know that your Franchisor is going support you in a way and to a standard that is current, innovative and ‘engaging’.

Engagement is a term that historically has conjured up images of sparkly diamond rings and promises of ‘forever’, with marriage statistics on the decline, ‘engagement’ in the workplace seems to be a more common use of the word.

So, what is it?

Talent and engagement tend to be grouped together and work in perfect harmony, the sum of two parts being greater than the sum of one, however they can be split out into two separate functions.
Talent (and Talent Management) refers to people, the talent in your business whether they be your employees or franchisees. The recruitment of talent, management of talent, development of talent and retention of talent as well and the occasional ‘management ‘when talent is lacking’ out of a business’ are all generally areas that provide challenge and opportunity to a Franchisor.
Engagement means someone’s commitment to the common goal (or commitment to the visions of achieving the business owners goal).

Why embrace it?

“Talent engagement means bringing on board the desired and required talent. Employee engagement means workers’ emotional and intellectual investment in their work and their company. A company wants to engage true talent so it can maintain true employee engagement.”

The same can be said for Franchisees. If Franchisees are engaged with the Franchisors vision, or mission for their business, they are far more likely to be emotionally invested and therefore work positively towards agreed and mutual goals. When Franchisees are disengaged there might be a variety of different behaviours displayed, mostly challenging and therefore individuals can be harder to manage, which equals more investment of time and money to support them for as long as they are with a business.

As a Franchisor, how can you adopt and culture of talent and engagement?

Creating a culture of talent and engagement essentially means taking any existing recruitment, training and personal/professional development to the next level and ensuring that they have commonality and support each other. This starts with getting your recruitment strategy right, understanding the profile of the people you want to attract, and recruit (both staff for your HO function and Franchisees). There may be the need to restructure and manage a few exits on the journey to getting this right.

An audit of Training, for your HO staff and also Franchisee’s is sometimes the easiest way to get a clear picture as to how effective your training is. Do you have clear learning aims and objectives for every piece of training delivered, or, if you are honest, has some training been pulled together and delivered for a while as you felt you needed to be offering something and something was better than nothing. This is remarkably common across franchising, after all, most Franchisors have gone into franchising because they were brilliant at running the business they are now franchising. What they may not have had to do before is be a leader and motivator of people at various levels and ultimately be responsible for a vast number of people’s careers.

Once there is a solid foundation of training in place, that tick’s boxes for induction training through to specialist training, covering all learning styles and multiple forms of delivery, then it’s time to think about ongoing personal and professional development!

What are the benefits?

The benefits of the above, are ultimately that you will become a stronger, more effective and profitable Franchisor, with Franchisees being more effective, engaged and successful (sub text typically being more profitable!).

As a franchisee, why should you be looking for a Franchisor that has embraced a culture of Talent and Engagement?

A progressive business will be aware of the need, and benefit to nurture and develop their talent. If you are from a corporate background the concept of Talent and Engagement will probably be a concept you may have experienced and even benefited from.

Part of a Franchisor developing a culture of Talent and Engagement will probably involve measuring engagement levels across a franchised network (this is progressive indeed, old school franchising of 20 years ago didn’t like franchisees having contact!).

Transparency of results and action plans to work on areas of strength and areas of opportunity across the business are then key. Actions speak louder than words and it’s the changes that a Franchisor will make, having polled feeling across the network i.e. engagement that really set good and great Franchisors apart.

A Franchisor who measures engagement is showing that they actively value their franchisees, and are working in partnership for mutual benefit and success!

A Franchisor who actively supports and develops talent within the business (by first identifying people’s strengths and encouraging them to work to those strengths) is one to align yourself with and buckle up for the ride as it’s going to be a successful one!

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