I had lunch with a good friend and great businessman last week. We talked about his family, his faith and his growing, successful business. Eventually the conversation turned to an issue that I believe is ever present for leaders: How do you find GREAT people?
As we talked about the challenges, I assured my friend that he was not alone – I’ve talked with hundreds, if not thousands, of leaders over the years who’ve asked the same question. I don’t think that made him feel any better. We talked about what a leader could do to meet this challenge head on. Here are a few ideas for you to consider.
1. Invest the Time – When leaders tell me that finding talented people is their number one priority, my typical response is a question: How many hours did you invest on this issue last week? Sometimes the answer matches the urgency of the situation and sometimes it doesn’t. Leaders who need talent must invest the time to find them.
2. Seek Internal Referrals – Let’s assume you’ve already got some outstanding people on your team – talk to them, get their help. Charge them with helping you find more people like them! Many Chick-fil-A Operators have told me over the years that this is their number one source for high caliber team members.
3. Always Recruit – Recruiting by definition is proactive. Never stop looking for talent. Don’t wait until you need people. Look for talent 365 days a year. In many cases, the people you want and need are already working somewhere else – and they’re happy. When you encounter someone that you think would be a great player on your team, you may want to give them your card. You could say, “If you ever decide you’d like to make a change, I’d love to talk to you.” You may be surprised how many people are looking for a better opportunity.
4. Build Strategic Relationships – Specifically, what type of people are you looking for? Who has more access to that pool of talent than you do? A recent example: a business leader I know wanted a young marketing professional to join his team. He didn’t know anyone. We talked about him building an intentional relationship with all the marketing professors at a local college. They would be his source to the brightest and best – at least these professors could make the introduction.
5. Create a GREAT Place to Work – If you don’t accomplish this one, you may actually get outstanding people, but they won’t stay. Candidates today, perhaps more than ever, are interested in the total value proposition. The HR people often call this TOTAL Compensation; I refer to it as “Psychic Income.” It consists of all the intangibles that an employee can’t take to the bank but still matter a lot. Talented people want more than a paycheck – they want a great place to work.
There is a strong correlation between the performance of an organization and the caliber of their talent. Always look for opportunities to raise the bar on talent.