How to Snag Top Talent and Gain a Competitive Edge
After the past few difficult years it seemed the tough times might be coming to an end, yet I believe too many are beginning 2023 with more trepidation than hope. They have fears of a recession and see headlines filled with news of various organizations laying people off.
While there are businesses that are struggling as the ripples of the COVID-19 recession continue to bounce through the global economy, I tend to be fairly positive about the business outlook in 2023. Although government expenditures are nowhere near what they were in 2020, spending is still very much happening, especially in the U.S. Unemployment is still low; businesses are still hiring; energy prices are getting back in line; supply chains are healing; and, with record-breaking sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there's a lot to be positive about.
There is uncertainty, no question, but there always has been and will be. When considering the long-term health of your organization, the best investment you can be making is in top talent. Let me share a few “habits” that your team may find helpful in acquiring and retaining such talented individuals.
Finding the Right People
When we interview a job candidate, the total number of hours a manager might spend with them can be counted on one hand. For a critical position, that doesn’t seem like much. To combat this, as well as bias toward any single candidate, here's a hiring “habit” or two to integrate in your team.
A steroid-enhanced rule of three will help shed light on the suitability of a candidate for your office. Each of your three finalist candidates should have three interviews conducted by three different individuals within your organization. Enhance this by using three different environments: online, in office, and over a meal. Have three different levels interact with the candidates and talk to at least three references for each candidate as well. Expert-level tip: Ask those references for another reference they know who worked with that individual. People rarely give references that won't say great things about them, so dig deeper.
If you're looking for several personnel at once, a different technique could be a “hiring day.” This modernized technique works better with general skilled positions. Advertise appropriately and create a draw — e.g., a giveaway, drawing, etc. — to pull in anyone who might have interest. Explain in the ad that it will be a three- to four-hour commitment, and have them register online so you can send reminders. Welcome them in, provide a tour of your facilities, help them understand your products and how you serve not only customers, but the world as well through your efforts. Be sure to introduce them to your best team members. Set up several rooms or seats for interviews and right there interview those who have interest in the position. Next, offer the right ones a job on the spot (don’t forget to tout the training you provide) and have them start Monday.
Investment Builds Loyalty
One of the clearest messages a manager can share to demonstrate their investment in the team is the continued development of their skills. This investment shows that the company cares about its people. The most important employee retention strategy is employee training. It has been my experience that employee training not only benefits retention, but is also a selling point to those you're trying to attract to your company. Too many in management view a training investment in people as a risk. “What if they leave? They will take our investment with them.” Yes, that's true. But there are several reasons this is outweighed by the risks of not offering training. Two quick rationales to this point: if you fail to invest you will likely not keep the best very long, and staff members who are not trained and up-to-date on the latest skills will be less productive than you would like them to be. Having a training mindset is a “habit” that pays dividends and is worth developing in your management team.
Walk the Talk
This final “habit” impacts the others and is critical. While hiring or communicating with your people, you likely have told and sold the greatness of your organization. Leadership needs to live up to the hype. Live the culture you proudly talk and boast about. Be open, inclusive, transparent and trust your team. When performance shortcomings happen, address the issue not the personality. If those people don’t or won’t improve, show them the door. Your top performers will see you care about them when you don’t let poor performers reap the same rewards as your all-stars. You talk about your corporate culture — be sure you walk the talk.
Remember, your greatest competitive advantage is the people on your team. Find, invest and care for them with the same level of commitment you would your latest technology or system.
John Mitchell is the president and CEO of the global electronics industry's trade organization, IPC.
Related story: The Not-So-Surprising Answer to Employee Retention Challenges
John W. Mitchell, Ed.D. (www.johnwmitchell.com), author of the upcoming Forbes Books title Fire Your Hiring Habits: Building an Environment that Attracts Top Talent in Today’s Workforce, is president and CEO of the global electronics industry’s trade organization, IPC. Mitchell began his engineering career at General Electric Aerospace before moving into leadership positions at Alpine Electronics and Bose. His academic credentials include a doctorate in higher education management from University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education, a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor of Science in electrical and computer engineering from Brigham Young University.