We live in a competitive world.
To survive and thrive, companies need to attract and retain the best people.
Having the right people can make a massive difference to the performance of the business.
This is highlighted by McKinsey where analysis has shown that superior talent is eight times more productive than average talent. Put another way “high performers are 400 percent more productive than average ones”.
This gap is even more stark for roles with a high degree of complexity. Examples would be leaders with a high degree of specialism, or computer developers with deep technology skills. In this case, the difference rises to an incredible 800 per cent more productive.
So how do you find the right people for your business?
Many companies will look for the quick fix, but this not always the ideal solution.
All too often, senior leaders will hire people that they know, or people that have been recommended via a network contact.
At best, with this approach, the company will end up with average performers, and over a period of time, will be destined to be an average performing company.
The approach I have taken (over a number of decades of recruiting) is more in-depth.
My focus is on getting the right people into the business, improve the bottom line and help the business to grow. It is not on the “quick fix”.
The key is about understanding the business: the strategy, the market you operate in, the strengths your business has, and the challenges you face.
This places me in a strong position to find the right people for your business needs.
It is vital to match business needs with specific competencies and experience. Without understanding the business needs, it is not possible to truly understand the competencies and experience required in the ideal candidate.
These needs can be a subtle and invisible unless they are “teased out” by strategic level discussion.
There is no shortcut.
To find the best talent requires a lot of effort and time to understand the market for the talent you seek.
It is an approach that I have been using for a long time, and has yielded great results.
For all businesses, having the right person in key roles is vital to the success of that business.
Without the right people in place, it is very difficult for an enterprise to achieve its business objectives.
For any number of reasons, companies find themselves in a position where key people do not fit the needs of the business. Or a new role has been created in the business, and there is no-one internally with the skills to fit the role.
This could be that market has changed, so the company needs to introduce new products, or the way in which business is done (e.g. digital) has changed.
Leadership is considerably more difficult in situations of transformation and change. It takes a different type of person to lead in a change scenario, than a steady state scenario.
If a business does have the wrong person in place, there will be a number of negative impacts:
“You can't do a good business with a bad person. Find the right people to work with and you can't go wrong. “ Richard Branson
So what to do about it
In a situation of transformation, the leadership of the business needs to assess the organisational readiness for change, and tackle the issues that get in the way of business transformation.
A solution here is to use a strategically minded HR professional to help this process. Often it is best to use an external party who can look at the business through an alternative lens - an interim HR director with a strong strategic mind set.
For all businesses, having the right person in key leadership roles is vital to the success of the business.
Without the right people in place, it is very difficult for a business to achieve its business objectives.
Any strategy, no matter how smart, is dead on arrival unless a company brings it to life with people – the right people. Jack Welch – “Winning”.
Having the wrong person in place can mean:
· failure to meet the objectives of the business due to lack of appropriate skills
· lack of faith in the leadership of the company
· loss of key staff (good people will leave)
· imbalance of leadership which leads to disaffection of other key members of the team – this leads to business decline rather than business growth
A lot of companies get this badly wrong.
A lot of hiring at leadership level is “quick fix”.
Often this is done by word of mouth. People are hired that are known to the business - usually because the person hired is in the same sector, or the same line of business.
This is often perceived to be lower risk because:
· The candidate does not have to learn how the business works or the way the sector works
· People in the business like him or her
· It makes the hiring process quick
· No need to pay a search firm fee – saves money!
But very often, the person hired is not the right fit from a skills, culture and strategy perspective.
So how to solve this problem?
Most recruitment discussions start with the job description.
In my view, this misses the vital point.
Every discussion I have about a search starts with a discussion about the business, typically:
· What is the strategy of the business?
· What markets is the business in? Who are the customers/ clients?
· What is the growth plan?
· How ambitious is the business?
· How successful has the business been in recent times?
· What are the challenges the business faces?
· What is the culture of the business?
After this discussion, it is invariably very obvious what the business needs are, and why there is a need to recruit the person the business wishes to hire; and therefore, the type of person required. The discussion about the job description is often a very short one, if required at all!
Armed with this information and a much deeper understanding of the business needs, I am in a much stronger position to find the right person for the business, improve the bottom line and help the business to grow.
It is an approach that I have been using for a long time, and has yielded great results.
For examples where I have done this, see my case studies
People are at the heart of all businesses.
Maximising the potential of your people will go a long way to maximising the potential of your business.
For a growing business, it can be a tricky decision to invest in a progressive HR structure, and decide what the structure might look like.
So how can HR make an improvement to the bottom line?
Is it worth the investment?
One way of looking at it is this:
Engaged employees = engaged customers = creating sustainable profitable growth.
Richard Branson said: “If you look after your staff, they will look after your customers. It’s that simple.”
There is often a question mark as to how HR can add value. There is a widely held perception that HR is about reactive admin measures, and generally plays little part in moving the business forward.
So the conversation needs to about what HR interventions can make an impact on the bottom line.
The type of HR professional that can do this needs to (1) be strategically minded; (2) be transformation orientated; and (3) have the ability to deliver people strategies that change the business.
What actions would this person take? Well, here are a few pointers.
For all staff in the business:
For the leadership team of the business:
For a medium sized business, it is about taking a forward looking view of the business, and recognising that as the business grows and matures, the support needs from HR will change.
This means aligning HR strategy to business strategy, and to ensure that there is room to flex the strategy as the business changes and grows.
Many SME businesses have strong employee cohesion with a “family feel”.
However, as businesses grow, the “family feel” inevitably dissipates.
Progressive HR interventions will recognise this cultural change and introduce new structures to make people feel that their contribution is worthwhile.
This can make all the difference to company loyalty and commitment.
Does this HR leader have to be a permanent appointment?
For the smaller business, this could be a part time appointment, or an interim appointment.
It can also be a freelance HR Director who is “on call”, or spends a few days a month with the business.
However, as I said above, this HR professional has to be:
· strategically minded
· transformation orientated
· able to deliver people strategies that change the business
People are the key asset in any business.
Good HR management can make all the difference.
Bad HR practices will certainly hold the business back.
This article was co-authored by Martin Nicholson of Pro Action HR. Martin is a highly strategically orientated HR transformation expert.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than your best staff walking out the door.
People who you thought were loyal employees, and that you can rely on, have resigned - leaving you with the headache of recruiting a replacement.
Without your best talent, it is hard to maximise your business potential.
So what can you do to hold onto your best people?
Is it all about money?
No it's not.
Money is always a factor in people’s decision making on whether to remain with an employer. But there is always more to it than that.
Remember, for anyone to go out and look for a job, it is a time consuming and often a difficult activity. One that most people would prefer to avoid if they can.
If things are pretty good in their current role, you can generally be confident that they will stay.
So why do people leave and what can you do about it?
Here are a bunch of ideas that might be useful.
You may already being doing some, or most of these things, but there may be some ideas that can make your business more effective and hold onto your valuable staff.
People leave organisations due to their managers and supervisors than their actual jobs.
Quality management and supervision is always a key factor in retaining quality staff.
Set realistic expectations on individual performance.
Give positive feedback on performance to enable the employee to thrive in their role.
A recent survey by Glassdoor shows that company culture is high on the agenda when it comes to job satisfaction.
So what constitutes a positive culture?
· Appreciation and well being.
· Engagement with colleagues and managers.
· Can employees freely express their opinions?
· Do they feel their personal contribution is making a difference?
Staff at all levels want to be treated fairly, and they want to be treated consistently. That is straightforward and logical.
The question: do they feel that way? It is easy to assume that the business is fully engaged with the staff. Yet, that underlying disengagement may be lurking in your organisation. You have to root it out.
A fully engaged staff will go the extra mile. They will do more than their job spec requires.
The business will benefit.
People hate not knowing what is going on – particularly in a high change environment. Communicating and engaging on a regular basis makes people feel part of the team.
Let employees know how the company is performing. They will appreciate honesty and transparency. Enable employees to speak their mind and contribute to the organisation. Employees like to feel valued and like to feel important.
A culture that enables this will contribute to employee retention.
Promotion is not always possible. Organisational structures do not allow for everyone to be promoted. However, people will feel valued if they have an opportunity to maximise their potential in their role. Stifled creativity can indicate a lack of opportunity in the business.
Invest in personal growth.
A supervisor can be encouraged to try to become a manager, and given objectives and a plan to get there. A manager can be encouraged to become a director.
It all helps to promote a culture of progress.
No one likes mundane repetitive work. No one likes being stuck in rut.
But, if there is no opportunity to improve their work situation, that valuable employee will look elsewhere.
Investment in personal growth is always a winner.
Offer your staff a budget for online training courses.
This doesn’t have to be expensive “day away” seminars; there are many available online and the cost is not high.
Breakfast seminars, lunchtime events, networking events can all help the individual to build knowledge and confidence. It will also increase a feeling of importance representing their company.
It can pay dividends, particularly if it is aligned to their personal growth plan. Plus, if their personal growth plan is aligned to the business strategy then mores’ the better! (although I realise that this is not always practical – but it’s a good aspiration).
For people who have been around for a while, job title means less than it does for a career aspirational person - and it is these career aspirational talented people that you want to keep a hold of.
For people who want to climb up the career ladder, title matters. They want to feel that they are progressing in their career.
If they have a job title that does not reflect their perceived position in the company, and in comparison with their peers in other companies, this will lead to disenchantment.
Imagine the career minded person who discovers that their friends, who they perceive to be on the same level as them, have a more lofty job title - they are going to feel pretty disgruntled.
If they get an opportunity to move to another company and get a better title, it could well be the thing that makes them jump.
Job title may not matter to you, but it matters to them.
I am frequently asked for advice on finding a job, so I thought it would be useful for job seekers to set down some tips.
The way that jobs are filled is a complex story, and depends on a number of variables.
Here is an outline of the job landscape and tips as to how you, as a job seeker, can make the most of it.
Word of mouth
A large number of jobs are filled by word of mouth. You may think this is surprising in an increasingly technology orientated world: but employers like trust, and if someone internally can recommend a colleague that they have worked with before - or a friend - that gives a level of trust that an unknown candidate cannot bring.
Also, it is cheaper and easier to hire someone that is already known to a member of staff, so it is a “path of least resistance” to many employers.
This internal referral method is actively used by many employers: some on a more active and organised basis; others on a more informal basis.
I have, on a number of occasions, been very surprised when an employer talks to me about their plans to hire for a role, and has given me precise detail about the type of person they want to hire.
They are seemingly uncompromising on the criteria of the candidate they seek (the skills, the background if the person, the type of companies they have worked for in the past etc).
Then shortly after, they tell me that things have changed: they have filled the role with someone that was recommended to them directly.
Lo and behold: the person they have hired does not fit the criteria they have set!
When I ask them why, the answer is invariably the same: “well this person was recommended by someone we know, their skills don’t quite fit but the candidate seems like a good person so we thought we’d give it a go.”
The real answer is that it was: easy to do – no long interview process to go through; cheap – no adverts or recruitment fees; a “bird in the hand” – solves a problem quickly even though the person hired may not be the right fit.
The latter often brings problems further down the line, but that’s a discussion for another time.
So, my message to job seekers is: make the most of your network. Make sure your contacts know that you are on the job market so they will think of you if a role comes up.
If you are well connected on LinkedIn - make the most of these contacts. There is no harm in messaging your contacts to ask if there are any opportunities going in their current employer.
There may be people you have worked with before, but have not been in contact for some time. Don’t hold back in getting in contact – ping them a message on LinkedIn and let them know you are available.
Some job seekers say to me that they are uncomfortable doing this because they feel it may be intrusive. Well, consider what I said above: lots of companies will welcome you getting in touch; it may be saving them a lot of time effort and money if you are the right person for a vacant job.
Internal recruitment teams
In the last few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of companies who have built their own internal recruitment teams.
The advent of LinkedIn and a myriad of job boards means that companies can hire a team of internal recruiters and do most of their recruitment within the business (the objective is to cut hiring costs and increase efficiency).
Not all businesses have gone down this route, and generally it works for larger companies with a significant recruitment need; smaller companies generally will not find it cost effective, and will use more traditional methods such as internal referral, adverts and recruitment companies.
If you have an interest in a particular company; or a number of companies in a particular sector or area of business, it is a good idea to get in touch with them directly.
You can do this on Linkedin or on the company’s website. On LinkedIn, search out job titles such as Talent Acquisition Manager, or Resourcing Manager, and message them direct.
It is their job to gain as much market intelligence about potential candidates who might be available to work with their company, so they will be open to you getting in contact.
Recruitment companies/ head hunters
Contact as many recruitment companies/ head hunters as you can - ideally ones that focus on the type of role that would be appropriate for you.
I realise that a lot of people find this an unsatisfactory experience: many people tell me they are dismayed that there is little interest or never receive a response to their email and CV.
However, I would say it is always a good idea to spread the net as wide as you can, and if your CV fits a role that is being hired, you will get a call.
Make the most of job boards
There are many jobboards on the market: such as Executive Appointments, Jobsite, Totaljobs, Monster, Indeed LinkedIn jobs etc)
Make sure you upload your CV to as many of these as you can. It doesn’t take long to set up an account and upload your CV.
Be aware: many recruiters, whether internal recruiters, or recruiters in recruitment companies, will scour the databases of the job boards to find suitable candidates for jobs they are handling. If your CV is not there, they will not find you!
Some people have said to me that LinkedIn has monopolised the market and that job boards are on the way out. Not so! Look at the number of jobs advertised on these sites and that argument is soon dispelled.
Having a good LinkedIn profile is important in your job search.
The Linkedin site provides quite a lot of tips and useful information on how to maximise your profile, so make the most of these ideas.
Most people are happy to this themselves. However, some people find it useful to get some external help, in which case I am happy to recommend Tony Silver, who helps people to maximise their LinkedIn profile – see https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyksilver/
Tony charges a relatively modest fee but it can make all the difference in you being found by a potential employer.
There are many opinions about what constitutes a good CV. Ask 100 people and you will probably get 100 different answers.
My own view is that the reader of the CV must be able to understand what you are all about in a few seconds.
Think about: what do you do, who have you done it with, and what are your achievements.
Make sure the headlines of what you are all about are very easy to find (ideally a quick glance of the eye), and have additional detail if the reader wants to read more.
There are any number of points that can be discussed on how to optimise a CV, but I don’t propose to go into here.
I have a high regard for a career coach called Adrian Evans, based in Bucks.
Adrian runs a business called Accelerated Career Results, an executive mentoring and career development company committed to transforming professionals’ confidence, income and results.
In other words: he guides successful professionals to maximise their career potential.
See Adrian on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adrianevans/
Adrian also runs a business called the ‘Enterprise Sales Club’. The title is such because most of Adrian’s clients are Enterprise Sales executives. However, virtually all of the tips on his podcasts apply equally to non sales executives, such as how to negotiate a better salary and how to get a better job. See ITunes Enterprise Sales Show
Adrian is happy to have an informal, no obligation introductory chat if you would like to find out more about what he can do for you.
(I have no financial involvement in this recommendation! ...I simply respect Adrian)
How to use a diagnostics approach for IT and Business Transformation: to rapidly assess IT and business maturity, and develop a strategic roadmap for change. A conversation with Robert Peopall from Aspire Performance Improvement.
How to maximise the value of data and analytics in large business transformation programmes - a conversation with John Morton