In times of change, nothing will sink an organization faster than not having the right people in place.
CEOs globally recognize this reality, and now worry more about talent than any other internal concern, according to The Conference Board. What’s less understood is how to get and keep the right people. Here are guidelines that work for industry-leading organizations across sectors.
Rethink the Way You Hire
To start, hire faster. If you haven’t streamlined your hiring process since the Great Recession, you’re losing top talent to competitors who have. Make speed-to-hire as important as speed-to-market with a new game plan that eliminates false starts and costly delays and that recognizes the difference between consensus and paralysis by analysis. You can often save crucial days simply by reducing the lag time between interviews and feedback, or by blocking out interview times in advance, or by conducting occasional interviews over a weekend.
At the same time, keep the process disciplined, even when you need to hire a high-level team in a hurry. Whether you’re looking for a half-dozen people following a management change or a hundred or more after a merger, understand that you still need to establish and follow a process, build alignment, spend some time recruiting, and, always, vet and check references, even for candidates you already know.
Most important, understand and focus on what you want. Companies that use the interview process to figure out a job description waste time, alienate candidates and can easily overlook the best person for the job. Knowing what you want also has the great advantage of making it easier to overcome one of the most common obstacles to effective hiring: fear of making a wrong choice.
Focus on Fundamentals
If you play golf, you know that when the game changes, you go back to fundamentals. For leaders in today’s fast-changing global arena, human qualities are fundamental, and often even more important than specific technical or managerial skills. This represents a fundamental shift from previous eras, when companies would seek leaders with specific technical skill sets. In fact, the whole concept of credentials and qualifications has changed as organizations increasingly prioritize traits such as the ability to manage change. In order to find the right people today – the leaders who can adapt, collaborate, inspire and endure against all odds – you may need to look to different industries or technical skill sets than you have in the past.
You’ll also need to create an environment that attracts people with the qualities you seek, and that may mean strengthening your organizational culture. A strong corporate culture gives you a competitive advantage: research from DDI found that purpose-driven companies outperform the market by 42 percent. Building it comes down to three steps: deciding what you want the culture to represent, modeling it, and then holding people accountable for achieving it. The tools you use matter less than your commitment to creating the right cultural environment.
Start a New Dei
More than ever, companies across industries are getting serious about diversity. They have little choice: activist investors are demanding diversity in the boardroom; legislators have gotten involved on issues ranging from pay equity to board composition; and the #MeToo movement has put a spotlight on the gender gap in the workplace. Today’s strategy of choice blends three values, together known as DEI: Diversity, so people of different backgrounds together make stronger teams; Equity, so processes, procedures and resources are fair organization-wide, with equal pay for equal jobs; and Inclusion, so every individual is welcomed, valued and empowered to participate fully. These high-minded values make a bottom-line impact: research from consulting firms such as McKinsey and BCG shows that companies with greater diversity in leadership positions outperform organizations that are less diverse – especially at the executive and top management levels.
What this all boils down to is a willingness to double down on your greatest asset. Recognize that talent makes other business assets possible, and create the purpose-driven environment that attracts the best. Value human qualities that are basic but not common, and seek out those qualities in a diverse mix of skilled people. Then hire those people as if survival depends on it. Chances are, it does.
About the author
Julia Kampf is CEO, Chief Possibilities Officer & Board Talent Champion of JBK. She founded JBK Associates International, Inc. in 2003 to create an executive talent solutions organization that pushes the boundaries way beyond the limitations of standard executive search. To learn more, visit www.jbkassociates.net.
Contents of this article remain the property of the author and/or publisher.