Why finding talent is your top priority

As a leader, you are responsible for the performance and results of your organization. And having the right team is critical to being an effective leader. In fact, everything you do ─ setting strategy, developing partnerships, finding clients, raising money ─ is dependent on having the right people with the right skills and in the right roles. Without the right talent structure in place, a leader can be left with no talent to implement and poor organizational performance.

Defining what talent you need, knowing where to look for candidates, and recruiting them are the most influential actions a leader can perform. You are uniquely positioned to do this job over any other person in the organization. While you certainly can’t spend all of your time and focus on talent, it should your top priority.

If your organization is experiencing high-growth, then focusing on talent is even more important. Having an annual growth of 25% or higher puts strain on company culture because of the constant influx of new employees. Companies growing at such high rates face a great risk of culturally coming apart at the seams as norms and values become diluted. The pressure is on to hire great people who are well-aligned with a company’s values from the start.

There are three key elements that you can focus on to improve the quality and quantity of talented candidates and new employees:

Define the talent you will need in 1 to 2 years, not what you need now

As a leader, you have the best view into the company’s future. You know the strategies, the objectives, and the targets. Use that vantage point to set the talent strategy. What types of roles will you need to fill? What types of experience would be most helpful? How many people will you require? Will you need leaders or followers? What new skills and capabilities should they have? Define what type of culture you want to create.

The most critical work you can do in the area of talent strategy is to figure out what kind of managers you will need as the company grows. This includes identifying desired qualities of both senior managers and middle managers. As companies grow they need to move quickly between management structures or they risk losing momentum and revenue. Knowing what the next structure will look like, defining the key roles, and having the people in place to fulfill those roles will make these transitions seamless.

Be the ultimate salesperson of your company to potential candidates

Don’t underestimate the power you have to influence people to join the company. People want to work for an organization with a strong and clear purpose. You are in the best position to communicate the company’s purpose in a passionate and compelling way.

Make yourself available on a regular basis to support recruiting and to interact with candidates that have made it through most of the hiring process. Encourage them to ask you questions, and focus on showing them the opportunity they may have and the impact they could be able to make.

For potential senior-level staff, take the lead on the final interviewing process. Be sure to spend both structured time in the work environment as well as unstructured time outside of the office with them. Be available to them 24/7 to answer their questions and discuss possible issues.

Invest your time in employee onboarding and integration during their first 30 days

Once you hire someone, spend time with them specifically for the first 30 days of their onboarding. This time is crucial as it’s when the employee is most malleable and is forming habits and values. Answer their questions at length, give them examples of how things work, and talk to them about the vision you are creating for the company’s future.

Not sure where to start? Remember that one of the best tools for this process is storytelling. People learn and experience the world through stories. Talk about how and why the company was formed. Talk about who the key people were. Talk about the challenges they overcame. Talk about clients and partners. Talk about the visions for the future. You can even hold a group meeting for this, or discuss it one-on-one.

Talent is a limited resource. And it’s a fickle one as well. It’s difficult to predict and manage, and sometimes you just have to take what you can get. However, by focusing on defining exactly that what you need, using your influence to win over the best candidates, and investing in the early stages of their employment, you’ll increase your success. And with success in talent comes high organizational performance.

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If you’d like to learn more about how to create a strategic talent plan, send an email to talentplanning@eckfeldt.com. You’ll receive a workbook that walks you through the talent planning process that map your needs and priorities. For more information, please visit http://www.eckfeldt.com.