Sunday, May 27, 2007

Winning the War for Talent: Part Two - Grow your own!

Having explored how to make your company an effective "talent magnet" through building a talent scout mindset and leveraging your brand, we are ready to move on to part two of this series - growing your own talent.

Everything in life takes balance, and talent management is no different. There are always going to be times when you need to fill role and you recognize that the skills, knowledge and abilities required for success just don't exist in your organization - in most of these cases, you will opt to bring in fresh talent. This is particularly important when a fresh perspective is needed. This is an accepted practice, but it can be risky if you overuse it.

The "buy it" option's biggest risk is that the existing workforce will become stagnant and not see the trickle-up impact of promotions and cross-functional assignments. While many employees are not ready to take a promotional, or cross-functional assignment today, you can ensure that you have a ready pool of deployable talent by developing them today for the future. While the main benefit of the "build it" or "grow it" option is to ensure you have the next generation of leaders on deck, there is an equally important ancillary benefit - RETENTION! When your staff sees that you are serious about helping them develop themselves to make ready for new opportunities within the company, they are likely to be more engaged. In organizations where such talent assessment, development and succession planning is not evident, there is a huge competitive risk that some of the best players on your team will be willing to answer the siren call of the recruiter trying to steal them away!

While I normally try to give you simple things that you can immediately act on to better your situation, this one is a much more involved process. Developing the organizational intelligence to know when to buy vs build is not easy, and developing methods to assess your team to understand your succession picture and what's needed to develop folks to meet that mission is a major undertaking - requiring a virtually religious zealot approach. But, as a I said in my very first post, the journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step....

Start the conversation with your leadership about ways to assess your folks, plan for succession and begin developing those in-house destined to become successors, or begin building relationships with folks outside your company who you think would be great successors if no internal folks are, or can be made ready.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Winning the War for Talent: Part one - Building the better mouse trap

Editorial Note: So much for the "next posts will come out faster" comment! It's been a month, but I am back, so strap in and let's roll

Your company relies a constant inflow of talented folks to help drive the business. So how do you ensure that you are getting enough of the right talent? The answer is the same as that tired old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall - practice, practice, practice! The practice you need to do is actually some simple stuff though, and I can spell it out in just a few bullet points:
  • Be a CONSTANT TALENT SCOUT. Always be on the lookout for folks who have the kind of talent you need for your team. Whether at a trade show, seminar or at your mates backyard BBQ.... talent is ALWAYS around - you just have to keep looking.
  • Demand that your company develop an excellent EMPLOYEE REFERRAL PROGRAM. But make it measurable and meaningful! Use it to get your team to be on the lookout for great folks to refer to your company. But not just when a job is posted... they should be referring folks who impress them all the time.... it's hard enough to find talent, waiting till you actually need it on hand is only adding troubles.
  • Make hiring good people who become successful on your team a goal. Make sure your recruitment effort and spend was worth it by measuring how long those new folks stay, how successful they are in 90, 180 and 365 days. See how they are doing against goals and track their path to promotions. Replicate the efforts that worked and ditch the ones that bore no fruit.
  • Become an EMPLOYER OF CHOICE. It's hard enough to get candidates to answer the phone when you have a good name, but if you are not recognized as a great place to work, it's a whole lot harder. Being a recognized great place to work (and there are LOTS of ways to get there) will give you something to crow about when pitching your opportunities to prospects. Heck, even if your company isn't a top rated company - you can make your team the most desirable place to work within that company... and that leads me to our next section.... developing internal talent to meet your needs. But that'll have to wait till next time....
Get cracking on these pointers and start up a "bar napkin list" of the 10 people who most impress you in terms of how they could help your team be more successful and START CALLING THEM! Just call to say "Hi, John... I was reading a geeky HR blog about finding talent, and you came to the top of my mind. Let's talk about where you are with your career and where you'd like to go... I just might be able to help you out... " and let that conversation flow to become the first step in a long and prosperous relationship with your next best employee!