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How Will You Attract and Retain Talent This Decade?

What have you done or are doing to attract and retain talent in the lowest unemployement rate in decades? The economy is booming, 145,000 jobs were added in December alone. According to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 158.8 million Americans are now employed with an uneployment rate holding steady at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. There are now more job openings than there are job seekers to fill them – we’ve truly reached the elusive milestone of full employment. Here are more economy facts. Now we have a new problem!

How quickly can you expand the labor force?

Unfortunately, many sectors have reacted in the traditional year-end spirit of furloughs, additional PTO, RIF’s, job reassignments and declassifications as cost-cutting measures to send the decade out with a bang. Congratulations! You’ve just lost momentum and integrity. Where in the Sam Hill do you think you’re going to find your labor pool or future rockstars now?

It’s easy in difficult economic times for the knee-jerk reaction to cut jobs, freeze hiring and bury your head until we reach a recovery period. Those days for the near term are over and by not having a fluid plan in place or by not executing effectively and efficiently has likely cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some cases millions in recovery costs and incremental revenue…oops! While that reaction may have kept you in the race, it doesn’t put you ahead of your competition. And, it certainly didn’t gain you any competitive advantage either. Here are 5 Keys for Upgrading Talent When There’s a Shortage of Talent:

It’s time to seize a unique opportunity, while the supply of talent has never been more abundant or affordable, to get ahead of your competition. If you don’t go after them now, then they will cost you far more a year from now.

1. Build Them – When did you last have a thorough and strategic conversation about evaluating and identifying your current and future internal stars? I don’t mean run a report on workday to see who scored highest on the most recent keystroked review. Real conversations with real people – they’re your most important asset supposedly – to uncover high-potentials and recognize high-performers. ‘If you build it, they will come’ is more than a well-remembered movie line. People, good and great people, the 4- and 5-stars, weren’t born that way. You have an obligation to develop people as the leader of a team, a department, a group, a division, a company and an organization. We’ve been developing pipelines for our clients for three decades now. Most recently, we had a client redeploy us after a several year hiatus understanding that no one else knew their company from the outside better than we did.  We’re implementing a three-tiered approach to consistently plan for their future by building from within initially.

While Talent Is Abundant, Intelligence is a Commodity

2. Borrow vs. Buy Them – There’s wisdom in taking a test drive of a brand new vehicle before putting it in your garage. Why? What’s the point? You can research and learn reams of data from your phone, can’t you?  Why do you buy 4 pairs of shoes from 6pm.com? Because, one – you don’t have time to fight traffic and kill precious hours at a store, two – your kids’ feet are growing seemingly overnight, and three – you’re sick and tired of those busted Rockports or Kenneth Cole’s your hubs trudges through the disgusting slush in. How are these examples any different than taking a test-drive on Dave, your potential new Marketing Director or Jane your new HR VP? Times they are a changing and search has become so transactional, and recruiters nowadays only have time to ‘fill-it and bill-it’. Aligning your hiring decisions with your needs for current and future talent is no longer being proactive. It’s a must-do! The New Year has also blessed us with a new client who’s tried the several local recruiting shops, the branded Executive Search firm and come away with the same ROI as the last couple years…’they were good, but they left…’ Don’t you want to hedge your bet and stop wasting valuable resources?

3. Build Portability – The single biggest reason people leave an employer is their manager and their inability to lead effectively. Our surveys have shown, the biggest reason for relationship erosion is the disconnect between the manager’s expectations and the realities of the job being far different than originally described. From the company’s perspective, the overwhelming reason for failure in a role is high performance isn’t always portable. Just because someone is a rockstar at Company A doesn’t guarantee them success at Company B – you know this. How does Pete Carroll perform poorly with the Giants and succeed at USC and Seattle? How does Tom Brady suck at Michigan only to become the greatest quaterback ever to play the game in the NFL? Two themes here – communication and engagement are disconnected, disjointed and disinterested. The solution, however, can be simple, practical and powerful.

4. A Proven Process – Avoid letting eagerness short circuit your selection process. ATS (applicant tracking software) can be a useless tool in the wrong hands – managing up to hundred positions and thousands of candidates. If the person behind the screen isn’t great at evaluating and identifying talent, at understanding role definitions, expectations and performance criteria, at asking powerful questions uncovering intangibles and deficiencies, then it’s nothing more than an extremely expensive file cabinet. Those that are good at the above stated dimensions sometimes allow their ego, bias and eagerness to get ahead of themselves. It’s an achilles of many good recruiter and sourcer to gravitate to ‘like-me’s’ and circumvent the process discounting profiles that have the juice but not in the comfortable confines of the reader. Perception is a delicate tool. Find a process and follow a process.

5. Small Wins Matter – Get quick wins to build credibility and trust. If you want sustainable talent success, then building on the small wins matters in both short- and long-runs. Select the right employee for the goal of leading talent, select the right contributors for the role today and how it will evolve towards future company goals, engage everyone and focus on the strengths and make them incredible.

What’s the Solution?

The ability to think big picture, to integrate seemingly unconnected elements within and between systems to find comprehensive solutions is seemingly rare these days. However, given the right leadership, communication, feedback and guidance attracting and retaining talent can be replicated easily. You’ve heard me talk about mindset, skill, tactics, and gear. Here’s a simple mindset action anyone can take now:

Connect Deeply – Start here with the ability to touch people’s sense of purpose and happiness in a deep meaningful way, whether that’s via phone, digitally or face-to-face. The art of creating beautiful solutions that are visually and emotionally appealing are what sets successful company’s apart from those constantly churning through people. In today’s ‘conceptual age’, right brain acumen is equally as important as left brain acumen.

Attracting and retaining talent is a mindset established by the top leader who then puts the necessary horsepower behind the mantra to deliver on the stated problem. Finding a proven process takes time, efffort and energy many executives just don’t want to be bothered with. Too many times, this strategic initiative gets executed in the same manner your brother-in-law’s son works – if you want it half done, then send your son – sad but true. We don’t publicize the search work we do, for it’s a line of business we’ve kept for our oldest clients.

If your hesitation is a cost factor, then consider this step. We will gladly come alongside your in-house team to coach and facilitate our proven process so your talent strategy is aligned with your organizational strategy. This way you get the proven expertise without the external costs involved from a high markup search firm. We can also provide you with our tools and resources we’ve proven and perfected that delivered significant results in time-to-hire, retention and ROI saving you thousands. Want to know more? Here are our two silver bullets for talent success: Silver Bullet 1 and Silver Bullet 2. If you’d like to share your unique situation and challenges, feel free to access my private online calendar here for a no cost, no obligation and no pitch conversation.

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