I\u2019ve written multiple blog posts about artificial intelligence (A.I.) and other emerging technologies. A.I. is certainly a disruptive technology on the road ahead, but there is one thing that all industries require, no matter how advanced their technology, and that\u2019s great people. High performers, A players, next-generation leaders \u2014 call them what you will, but if you don\u2019t have a method to build and retain a pipeline of talent, you put your company at risk of extinction.\u00a0\n\n\nIn my view, you must think of the entire life cycle of an employee to ensure that you are building a team that will last. Given my lengthy tenure, I\u2019ve been fortunate to have been personally involved in every step of the life cycle. Based on that experience, here\u2019s my take on the life cycle of employee engagement.\n\n\nEarly identification: interns, co-ops, college competitions, even high school partnerships. I was a co-op student. This was my opportunity to \u201csell my talent\u201d to my future employer, as well as an opportunity for my employer to do a very extended interview to decide if I was worth taking a chance on. (Fortunately, they hired me after graduation.) Interns and co-ops are a low-cost source of talent and a great way to prime the pump on your pipeline. Although their dollar cost is low, you have to invest time in them. Otherwise, the next step, recruiting, can fail. The most talented people will have multiple options, and they won\u2019t come back if their trial with you was unsatisfactory. Note that there are also other avenues for connecting to talent. My company has a great relationship with Girls Who Code, and we\u2019re excited about continuing that connection.\n\n\nRecruiting: Once you identify the talent, you need to hire them! The war for talent is real. Your early identification process is your best opportunity to find the best talent and show those people that your company is a great place to work. Your leaders will need to engage with recruits on college campuses. They can participate in interviews or in campus events. Your offers need more than a salary figure. Who will they be working for? What type of work will they be doing? This step isn\u2019t just for recruiting recent college grads, either. You need to be creative in your recruiting efforts. Pre-existing relationships often bring in the\u00a0 candidates who fit your company the best.\n\n Pixabay \n\nRamp up: entry-level leadership programs, training. Training is highly valued, particularly among technical hires. If they don\u2019t keep up with the current trends, they know their market value could drop. Leadership programs are more than just training for the job a person is hired for \u2014 they are designed to help employees establish a network that will carry them forward for many years. I am still connected with my entry-level \u201cprogram\u201d colleagues, even though we are now spread across many different companies.\n\n\nRetention: You need to keep them around! It doesn\u2019t do you much good to spend all that time and money recruiting and hiring the best people if you don\u2019t keep them around. A big discussion topic today is how to keep millennial employees satisfied. Rather than answer this myself, I thought I\u2019d refer you to my millennial daughter and her blog on Investing in Your Millennial Employees, According to a Satisfied Millennial. Several of her points are good ideas for all generations.\n\n\nRotations and cross-functional opportunities: New experiences help people grow. The world isn\u2019t a silo; you need to give your employees a chance to work outside of their core areas of expertise. Exposing people to new experiences can help them forge a broader network of ties across the company and learn about your business as a whole. My rotations across different businesses groups and functions helped make me a stronger leader.\n\n\nTraining for experienced employees \u2014 and even senior leaders: Learning never ends. Don\u2019t stop developing your employees after their first couple of years. Employees of all experience levels need your investment. The industry changes quickly. Helping your employees grow and adapt to the changing circumstances of your industry helps you retain the best and equips them to give back the most. Training is critical for your senior leaders as well. It\u2019s not only crucial for their ongoing development in this rapidly changing world; when done right, it can serve as a fantastic team-building experience for your senior leadership teams.\n\n\nYes, I love technology \u2014 I\u2019m a CTO. But one thing is certain, technology is nothing without a great team of people. Your investments in people will pay off both professionally and personally. So don\u2019t think your virtual assistant will solve every problem. Your personal relationships and investments in people will pay back for a lifetime.