“Where Do I Find the Right People?”
Apply Talent Management

By Dan Coughlin

Sally, the regional vice-president of sales in a national retail organization, said, “Dan, I know it’s important to have the right people ‘on the bus,’ but who exactly are the ‘right people’ and how am I supposed to find them and keep them?” Good question.

I define the “right people” for an organization as “employees who have the appropriate business talent.”  What is business talent? The capacity to help your customers achieve their goals in ways that generate sustainable, profitable growth for your business.

VSP: An employee’s business talent consists of his or her VSPs: values, skills, and passions.

  • Values are beliefs that determine behaviors.

  • Skills are the ability to do certain types of work.

  • Passions are what trips a person’s trigger, what drives him or her to do the very best.

The Three R’s for Optimizing Business Talent: The function of every manager is to recruit, reward and reenergize employees with relevant business talent so they help optimize their organization’s bottom-line outcomes.

Recruit by being a talent scout, not a position-filler. Post or hunt. When you have an opening on your staff, there are two ways to find a new employee:

  • You could post the opening, wait for applications, review resumes, set up interviews, and pick the best candidate for the job.

  • You can be on the hunt everyday for the type of talent you want for each position in your organization.

Which method do you think will produce the best results? Right. If you follow the first method, you will only hire people not coveted by other organizations. Not the best way to bring in optimally talented individuals who will catapult your company’s effectiveness.

To get the right talent requires hunting for it everyday. First, write down the VSP (Values, Skills, and Passions) needed to be extraordinarily efficient and effective at each position in your organization. Then consciously look for this particular talent each day. Let other people know the types of people you want if the position were to ever open up. Keep a list of people you meet at industry conferences, trade shows, and meetings who could potentially fill different positions in your organization. Build relationships with those people by staying in touch with them on a regular basis.

Make it daunting to get inside your doors.

My first boss said to me, “If you make getting hired seem too easy, candidates will wonder if they found the right place to work.”

I asked him what he meant by that and he said, “You don’t want the candidate to think you’re desperate to get him or her on board. Be patient so the candidate feels privileged to work for our organization rather than like another warm body.”

He went on to say, “Make the hiring process respectful, but also evident that you and the other members of the hiring committee take the process very seriously and don’t just hire anyone. Show up on time to conduct the interviews, have multiple people interview the candidate, and, if possible, place the candidate in a variety of settings to see how the person interacts with others.”

He then explained the importance of carefully building interview questions, role plays, and case studies to ensure we selected the right talent for a given role in our organization.

Finally, he warned me about being careful not to “fall in love” with a candidate based on his or her charisma, charm, enthusiasm, past jobs, or referrals. He said, “Make sure the person brings the combination of values, passions, and skills we need for that position. Be willing to prolong the search to find the right person.

Reward those who do it, not those who talk it. Hiring talented people is one thing. Getting those individuals to apply their values, skills, and passions in ways that generate sustainable, profitable growth is another. The first one costs money, and the second one makes money. Clearly communicate what you expect in terms of behaviors and results. Then when your employees move the business forward in the right ways, reward them. Give them public and private recognition, awards, bonuses, pay increases, and promotions. Rewarding the successful application of talent is critical to managing the talent pipeline.

Reenergize the right stuff to retain top talent. “I’m dying on the vine here.” Tom was the vice-president of the business unit and earning over $220,000 per year, and yet he felt unimportant. He felt his professional growth had come to a standstill. He said, “Dan, I’m dying on the vine here. No one is looking out for my growth or my future. I’m going to start looking around for another job.”

If you want to keep your best business talent, make sure they constantly grow as individuals. Provide hands on coaching, internal mentoring, outside educational sessions, and mounds of real-world experience to strengthen the skills of your employees. Create an environment that encourages people to show what they’re passionate about.

Emotionally, not physically, embrace your employees every day.

Let talented people know how important they are to the success of the organization. You’ve worked incredibly hard to attract, select, develop, and reward the right talent for your organization. You now have an organization that is humming along. However if your employees leave your organization to take similar jobs elsewhere for similar amounts of money then you know you’ve blown it. Retaining key talent is a critical business driver.

Write a handwritten note to each member of your group once a quarter. In a world of e-mail and text messages, handwritten notes stand out like a bright spotlight. At company social gatherings, go up to the spouse of an employee and talk about the great things she brings to the organization. Stop an employee in the hallway and ask about his family. Go by a person’s desk and ask how she is doing. Find ways every day to let your employees know they are important to you, regardless if they are the highest or lowest paid employee.

The Fuel for Future Results

“The task of building a truly creative society is not a game of solitaire. This game, we play as a team.”

-  Richard Florida, Best-Selling Author, The Rise of the Creative Class

Nothing a manager does impacts the future of his or her organization more than recruiting, rewarding and reenergizing the right talent. Make this task the primary work you do with other managers to accelerate the sustainable, profitable growth of your organization.

Read other articles and learn more about Dan Coughlin.

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