Are You Ready for Top Talent Employees?

By | September 15, 2011

Sitting in my exit row seat in a plane next in line to take off I hear a phone ring behind me. The man in the center seat didn’t turn off his phone as instructed and proceeds to carry on his phone conversation. The lady beside me says to the flight attendant sitting in the jump seat right in front of us, “The guy behind me is talking on the phone!”

The flight attendant shrugs his shoulders, shakes his head, and throws up his hands and says, “Nuthin’ I can do.” As we turn onto the runway he adds, “It usually never affects the plane anyhow.” USUALLY???

Have you ever noticed bad employees stay with you for a long time (because they have nowhere else to go, which is an article in itself as to why you allow them to say!) while your best employees are being poached and given opportunities by your competitors even in these challenging economic times?

Like the best companies in every industry, your organization should be on a constant search for better talent to strengthen your team. The talent wars will determine the success of any organization competing in this new economy. Before trying to attract and hire top talent you need to ask yourself three critical questions that will determine the quality of the talent you can attract and more importantly, get to stay. Are you really ready for top talent?

Question #1: Why do you want top talent?

When I ask this question of audiences I get responses such as, “They will make my team better. They will save me money. They will produce more. They will help my bottom line.” Every one of those answers is true from a manager’s standpoint, but not one of them will get that talent to stay with you. The correct answer to that critical question – Because I want that employee to have a life-changing work experience works for us.

What does a life-changing work experience look like from a top talent’s point of view? As one human resources director told me of an actual experience she witnessed; when the employee is leaving because her husband was transferred and she is crying in her exit interview saying things like, “I will never find another place to work as good as this one.”

A life-changing work experience is about how connected the employee is to the work she does, the people she works with and the opportunity to exercise her talents. She wasn’t crying over a lost paycheck, she was crying over a lost work-experience. This is why you want to hire top talent so you can provide them with that type of connection to what they will get paid to perform. If you can’t provide that experience, your top talent will not stay and frankly you have some things that need to be done to create that work environment.

Question #2: Are you hiring talent or filling jobs?

Filling jobs means you are interviewing when you have a job opening. Hiring talent is bringing on board a person who has talents you highly value and finding a place for them to fit your organization. When you are filling jobs you have a box you need to put someone in. It’s restrictive and based on a job description that has more to do with the mechanical aspects of the jobs rather than the fit of the person to the workforce or the culture of the organization. A job reports directly to a boss, has specific duties to accomplish and after a short period of time the owner of that box refuses to perform duties outside of the job box created for them to fit in.

Talent is more free-flowing in top talent-attracting organizations. When they hire talent they hire an individual to perform that talent anywhere in the organization that can benefit from those skills. Find someone who has a knack for solving complex problems with simple solutions? Why limit them to a box of one job title? Let them roam the organization as a solution-provider for anyone that has a need for that skill. The company is better off, the employee is better off doing that thing he is best skilled for, and everyone benefits!

Question#3: Are you willing to change the hiring and retention process to keep your top talent?

Top talent should be hired based on a talent description, not a job description. Recruits should be asked to demonstrate their talent, not submit a resume. Do you really care how they look on a piece of paper? As fast as business is changing, you want to determine how they are going to perform their talents for you in the future. Request a demonstration and conduct a team interview to see how well they are going to fit.

To retain top talent you will need to abandon a recent pillar of managerial structure: Treat everyone the same. One size does NOT fit all. Top talent expects to be managed and lead differently than the middle of the road talent employee. Managers need to be taught how to manage the elite and yes treat them differently than the rest. (Again this can and will be an entire article later.) When you insistent on managers treating everyone the same you appeal to the lowest common denominator which means you dumb down your organization and you lose the elite talent.

If you want to attract and retain the best of the best, you have to provide the work environment to keep them on your payroll. So the next question is: Are you ready for top talent to work for your company?


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