The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind … creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. Very interesting quote from Daniel Pink. If you want to build an effective business, it starts with having the best people. Who will be the next employee?
No question about that in our minds. And creating a talent advantage begins with your next employee. That said, it never ceases to amaze me at the number of businesses who put little energy and time into mining for talent. Smart leaders do more than just hire smart people … they have a smart hiring process and/or methodology.
Check out our thoughts on team leverage.
Related post: How to Create the Best Leadership Accountability
Put simply; talent matters. The problem is that very few people actually possess the talent to identify talent. Identifying and recruiting talent requires much more than screening a resume and having a set of standard interviewing questions to guide you. There are issues of values, vision, culture, context etc. that need to be creatively and intuitively addressed in the hiring process.
In today’s post we’ll share our philosophy on the best way to insure that you hire tier-one talent. We believe one of the best uses of time is to make sure to make the best hiring decisions possible.
We use the following hiring process attributes when advising our clients:
Know your objectives
If you can’t specifically define what you are looking for, you have little chance of finding it, do you? This definition is both in terms of the job description and the profile of the individual most likely to be successful in that role. If you can’t define what you’re looking for, you should not be looking.
Next employee … what you are selling?
You are looking for the best talent, correct? This means you are in competition, so it is essential that you are able to put your best foot forward and be able to market your strengths. Examples of what good talent will be looking for are continuous learning, ability to grow and develop their strengths, etc. Be able to give your examples of these in a soft, non-selling manner.
Take your time
There is wisdom in the expression ‘hire slow and fire fast’.Don’t panic and end-up making a regrettable hire out of perceived desperation. Give yourself plenty of runway. You’ll be much better-off taking your time and making a good hire rather than using the ready, fire, aim methodology.
Talent search mode
Always be in a talent search mode, even if you are not yet ready to hire. Never let your organization be put behind the talent 8-ball, as great talent is rarely available on a moment’s notice. Some of the best hires we’ve made over the years were people that we spent months, and in some cases, years developing relationships with.
Next employee … culture based hiring
Culture matters … a lot more than you may believe. You can either spend time finding employees who share your organization’s values, or deal with managing conflicts that arise due to opposing values. Ignore culture in the hiring process and all other hiring initiatives will be diminished, if not lost altogether.
When our clients companies complain about a lack of leadership, or how difficult it is to identify leaders, our question is simply this: Why didn’t you hire a leader to begin with? It is simple … the development of an existing leader is faster, easier, and more effective than creating a new leader.
You can hire the best talent in the world, but remember that ‘best’ is a subjective evaluation largely measured within the context of a snapshot in time. Obsolescence can take root in anyone if growth and development are not focus points. Development needs to occur at every echelon of the workforce … the top, middle, and bottom performance tiers.
Hiring is a blend of art and science. The reality is that those organizations that identify, recruit, deploy, develop and retain the best talent will be the companies who thrive in the market place.
Remarkable employees are dependable, proactive, diligent, good leaders and good followers… they possess a wide range of easily-defined, but hard to find, qualities. Employee qualities like that are a must.
A few hit the next level. Some employees are remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on performance appraisals but nonetheless make a major impact on performance.
Now lets turn attention to the best qualities to look for in hiring tier-one talent. We recommend the following behaviors, attitudes, and strengths to look to hire and develop in both our and our client businesses:
Care about people
Remarkable employees recognize the contributions of others, especially in group settings where the impact of their words is even greater. They always demonstrate their interest in others and their team.
Great at taking initiative
The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.
When a key customer’s project is in jeopardy, remarkable employees know without being told there’s a problem and jump in without being asked…even if it’s not their job.
The best employees are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a really good way. Unusual personalities shake things up, make work more fun, and transform a plain-vanilla group into a team with flair and flavor.
People who aren’t afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, and they often come up with the best ideas.
Humble yet passionate
The remarkable ones find strong egos very distasteful … yet they wear their passion 24/7. They can as easily follow as lead and in all situations pay attention to being strong team players.
That pretty much sums up highly creative people: they are different. They will have different backgrounds to averagely creative people — and that background may very well include working experience. They will behave differently to averagely creative people and they will offer different results: creative results. If you keep this in mind, it will not be hard to find and hire creative people. The challenge will be challenging them sufficiently to keep them.
Not afraid to speak up
Some employees are hesitant to speak up in meetings. Some are even hesitant to speak up privately.
An employee once asked me a question about potential layoffs. After the meeting I said to him, ‘Why did you ask about that? You already know what’s going on’. He said, ‘I do, but a lot of other people don’t, and they’re afraid to ask. I thought it would help if they heard the answer from you’.
Remarkable employees have an innate feel for the issues and concerns of those around them, and step up to ask questions or raise important issues when others hesitate.
Not afraid to fail
The last thing they worry about is making mistakes or failing in a task. They understand risks and realize progress depends on going a little beyond, even when they realize they won’t be right all the time.
They thrive when they are given opportunities to do new things where they push the boundaries of their learning. They tend to soak up new knowledge like a sponge and keep coming back for more.
All of these hiring processes need continuous attention and practice. Also the qualities of remarkable employees are rarely found in one individual, but you should always be looking for them all. Your employee team’s makeup requires them all, even if not in any one individual.
Do you have a question, comment, or a story of employee hiring or development to share? We would love to know your thoughts.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics that relate to improving the performance of business. Go to Amazon to obtain a copy of his latest book, Exploring New Age Marketing. It focuses on using the best examples to teach new age marketing … lots to learn. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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