Bloom Where You Are Planted (in this case it’s NE Wisconsin)


Talent and all the challenges around finding, hiring and retaining people is a very hot topic these days, as it should be.  There are many opportunities we face, some immediate and some in the not too distant future.

One we frequently observe and work with clients on is the generational values misalignment.  This is not a bad thing, it just is.  The baby boomers were raised in a time where we stayed with our employer for many years. “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay” was how we lived our work lives.  The millennial generation is more about innovation, fun and work life balance, all very important values but herein lies the opportunities and challenge with the two generations now colliding in our workforce.

More baby boomers will be retiring in the next three – five years then at any other time.  Knowledge transfer at this time is critical.  Baby boomers must train this generation to run the equipment, sell the product and lead the strategy.  Baby boomers are hesitant to do this.  One, because they believe they will get the new hire trained and then they will leave for the next green pasture (and admittedly so with their average job tenure of three years) and second, job security exists by being the only one who really understands exactly how the machine works.  The recession of 2008 didn’t help this.

Our solution, which we will discuss at The New North Summit in our ED talk, involves a multi prong approach to talent.  For a firm to be successful with talent both today and into the future, the focus needs to be not only on finding top performers, but a new focus for our NE Wisconsin Manufacturers needs to be on retaining our young professionals.

Why I say “new approach” is because we have found the methods we used twenty years ago to attract people to NE Wisconsin are very different than what we use today.  Here is a brief sampling of our methods used.


  • You have to be an outstanding storyteller.

Not the story you told years ago about Grandpa starting the company and three generations later you’re still around…this does nothing for today’s future top performer.  You need to sell your company by its cause…how are you make a difference in today’s world?

Oshkosh Corp does this extremely well.  In their latest, just released video, they interview many employees who work at Oshkosh about their connection to the company…while nice to hear, the emotional moment comes next.  Those same employees stand in the parking lot, hundreds of them, holding up pictures of their loved ones who are either currently or have been in the service.  Their lives were saved by what this company produces everyday.  It is impossible not to cry when you hear the personal stories of a husband, son or daughter spared by their military vehicles.  I watched the video and immediate wanted to be a part of “their cause”.


  • If someone is to move to NE Wisconsin, we need to convince them we are more than cheese, snow and Packers.

We know NE Wisconsin is a wonderful place to raise a family.  However to attract top performers you need to remember, smart people want to be around other smart people.  Did you know the Time Magazine Automotive Dealer of the Year four years running lives here?  How about someone who was voted into both Forbes and Fortune Magazine Top Fifty Most Powerful Women?  Yes, she lives here too!  Even the gentleman who composed the music for Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer lives right here in NE Wisconsin!  We have countless people we mention and people outside our area are always amazed at the brilliancy that resides right here…but they won’t know if you don’t tell them.


  • NE Wisconsin is not happy following best practices…we set them.

Let’s face facts.  We are a competitive group.  We don’t just show up to play, we show up to win!  If they want to be a part of something larger than themselves, this is a great place to live, work and win!   We have countless examples of how we outshine our firm’s competitors.


  • Show them how to duplicate the life they are leaving behind.

We spend an exorbitant amount of time on this, especially with the trailing partner.  While we know people love it here once they get here, we need to point them in the right direction.  This is especially important for single or diversity candidates.


Want to hear more?  Make sure and attend The New North Summit completely dedicated to talent.  You will take away many great ideas and also network with our very own best and brightest.