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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Looking to Recruit Great People? First Look at What Talent You Already Have!

The news of the significant drop in the unemployment rate to 7.1% in the past week has caused me to consider the implications as far as SMEs in the United Kingdom are concerned. 

There has been a distinct trend of late with members of my Vistage Chief Executive group who have been looking to recruit personnel and who are finding it beginning to be difficult. 

The consistent mantra in the group is to build a business with only the best people certainly in senior positions, a theme emphasised by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great. 

Veteran Vistage speaker Lee Thayer says that businesses should employ only virtuosos (or should that be virtuosi?) to bring to the table radical thinking and new ideas.
The combination of radical thinking and enlightened management who will accept a different point of view rather than the “we’ve always done it this way” approach can be dramatic and lead to dramatic effects on performance. 

The problem is that as employment increases businesses will start to realise that great new talent doesn’t grow on trees and finding new people at a very high standard is going to become even more difficult. 

Indeed as employers realise that their talented people are the future of the business there is little doubt that salaries will start to rise in order to ensure that the people who make a significant contribution to the business will not move on, or at least, not move on easily. 

Retention of good people is not, of course, solely down to salary and financial rewards.   Access to personal growth, a learning environment, a no-blame culture, an inclusive attitude and acceptance of different thinking all contribute to enhanced levels of retention of good people. 

However, some do move on for whatever reason and need to be replaced.  In this rapidly changing economic environment it is unlikely that the very best people whom we are seeking will be found in the ranks of the unemployed. 

If that is the case then it will be necessary to do one (or both) of two things: look for people who are currently and probably happily employed and/or look afresh at your people with an open approach to uncover existing talent. 

The issue is that in a mature business many of the people come in to work, take off their coats and hang them up, take off their brains and hang them up and at the end of the day pit them back on again and go home very often to do something like running a youth club or being a sports coach or hosting book clubs. 

The point is that we more often than not do not know who are talented in the business or even what talents they have outside of their current occupation. 

There are people on your business who can make a contribution for which you may well be looking and, to repeat, recruitment from outside will become more and more difficult as the economy improves. 

Moreover, people recruited from outside will always ring with them baggage from their previous employment which has the potential to be problematic and sometime even disruptive.

All in all then, the best approach is to see what talent you already have in the business.  Board meetings should include on the agenda a talent spotting section so that everyone will start to look for, consciously, the next set of potential leaders. 

It will be your good people who will move on if the environment is stifling or exclusive, so seek and ye shall find.  Don’t seek and ye shall lose out in the long run. 
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