For many companies, our most important asset is our people. What advice do you have for other members to recruit the best employees and develop them as leaders in their company?
Rylon's Smokehouse, LLP
The most powerful role we have as leaders is the ability to lead and grow talent within our organizations. It is our responsibility to seek those individuals that may not have had the experience, but with the right guidance and training can and should be supported to advance within their career.
The responsibility of recruiting talent is a role that should not be taken lightly. Within that decision holds the future of talent untapped as well as talent that was overlooked. It is our responsibility to hire and advance individuals that may not be a reflection of you personally but reflect the internal spirit and drive that you would like to see advance in your organization. So many times, we hire people that look like us, or are in our own circle of comfort. This unfortunately doesn’t open the door to bring in individuals that can and will challenge the way we do business. This to me is the biggest opportunity to grow our organizations. Bringing individuals to the table that can incorporate a different perspective, culture or business experience provides an opportunity for the organization to bring insight that otherwise would not have been presented. Once we bring them to the table we must support them with the training and mentoring needed to see them succeed.
At Heron Agency, I always look at the assembly of my team the way a coach assembles a sports team of a variety of players needed for different positions. I am a big proponent of mentoring and then watching people grow, presenting opportunities for their advancement. Two of my employees were entry level publicists and are now Vice Presidents.
A good strategy is to develop a relationship with college professors who run internship programs: They can send you the best talent, and the internship period gives you a good idea as to an individual’s work ethic and skill set.
Also realize that the culture of a company is the most important factor, not only for recruitment but work harmony and synergy in general. I try to keep us team-based and collaborative, providing a safe space for people to spitball new ideas and execute them. When people are happy, it’s clear – and it is the best advertisement for any company.
The talent war was won long ago. The talent won. Talent will choose where it wants to work and even now, amidst the pandemic, talent is realizing they deserve meaningful work. Talent seeks to put their efforts into something greater than themselves, and leaders that believe in shared leadership must invite talent to lead. Women founders have a unique strength in building collaborative cultures where two-way conversation is valued and the voice of “we” can be heard and felt. If every leader looked to the workforce with the intent to vet the talent with this form of alignment in mind, the work would be gratifying for all.
It is critical to have a relationship, to engage the talent in a discussion of authenticity and mutual respect. Personal gratification in work that is aligned to strengths is not only feel-good advice but grounded in behavioral psychology as well as industrial/organizational psychology. It works, and it translates to the bottom line.
Simple math shows we are about to enter a talent gap of approximately 30 million people between now and when larger segments of millennials enter the workforce. Furthermore, as young talent enters into the workforce there will be a deficit of experienced leaders. So, for the vision to be strategized, implemented and lived, it will require people. People are not a commodity; thus this is a variable that poses some complexity. Talent attraction, development and retention will be the driving factors for every business seeking to grow throughout the next twenty years.
If you are the leader of your business, you must inspire others to a cause or purpose that brings diverse people together. The entrepreneurial spirit and passion can be contagious. Consider your talent as intrapreneurs: Where can their strengths play into your vision? Don’t just hire them, invite them.
As business owners, I think it is vital to know ourselves first. With all that we invest in our businesses, we need to realize that we are part of an ever-evolving culture and environment. With that thought, we are also part of the talent pool in our respective businesses. When we step back to look at our business's complete talent profile, we can then best see the gaps and blind spots to fill. Finding talent to get work done is essential but finding talent that fills that talent gap is critical. I often tell my clients that their number one job is to know talent before they need it. Networking is essential, and it is a bit easier these days with the pandemic and needing to be virtual. Personally, I try to schedule at least five "coffees" each week with people I don't know. Too many business leaders get mired in their work and to-dos. The best advice I can offer our colleagues is to 'drop a dime,' as my dad used to say, and seek out to meet the fantastic people around you that will know you, help you, or know someone to help you when you need it.
Pioneer Service Inc.
Being at the forefront of innovation and technology will get the attention of the new generation, but most are looking for more from your company than a paycheck and bragging rights. The simplest word for it would be community--they want diversity in the workplace, as well as a sense of belonging and being valued.
English businessman Richard Branson’s words in the 1980s still ring true: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.” In practice, this means:
- Provide and pay for their training.
- Highlight employees on social media and nominate them for awards.
- Keep them in the loop about upcoming projects, safety initiatives, new equipment, new staff, and training programs (at Pioneer, every manager meets with our entire team quarterly over company-provided lunch).
- Arrange for an at-least-annual get-together with your team’s families (COVID-permitting).
- Do the little things, like donuts and bagels every Tuesday
- The little things go a long way: Donuts and bagels every Tuesday, giveaways, Clown Nose Day, and other things to break up the grind.
- A big one: define your core values and set the expectation that everyone contributes to them. Include those values in your interview and onboarding process and look to your leadership to demonstrate them.
- Have your employees’ backs. Listen to their side in a conflict, whether internal or external, and discuss options with them. Don’t assume anything.