Want to attract A-Talent? Treat the D-Talent better

You want to hire the A-talent?

I will tell you how. Treat the D-talent better.

Companies either have a hard time finding the talent they need or they believe they have to throw money and perks at talent to entice them to join their company.

A-talent is the talent that has the skills, experience and attitude you seek for openings with your company. The typical strategies to hire the best talent? Offer more money, amazing benefits, provide office perks like free food and foosball and hope for the best. D-talent may be great talent for somebody, but not for your company. They are someone else’s A-talent. So, you ignore them. Wrong. Treat everyone the same during the recruitment process.

Treating the D-talent (B’s and the C’s) better shows your company is consistent and focused in your recruitment strategy. It aligns everyone in your organization along the same goals and plan. You present your company and your staff as being a united front. Your organization comes across as professional, organized and your employees engaged and involved. Good stuff when a candidate is evaluating whether they want to come work for you. The foosball table is fluff; this stuff is real.

People talk. Company reputations get built on what people on the street say and whom they say it to. Treating candidates poorly sends bad messages out to their extended network and you risk negative associations with your company. If your firm has a bad reputation, or has a bad recruitment process, people will talk about it. Your employer brand suffers. If your employer brand suffers, so does your recruitment efforts.

I recently had a conversation with a business owner who complained that he couldn’t find employees fast enough. He felt people were lazy and did not want to work hard. This was an insight into how he, and subsequently how his company, hired people. I did not want to tell him, but his attitude is a reason his company can’t attract people.

Most companies try to attract talent with money, benefits and perks. Survey after survey tells us that money is not the most important driver for most employees.
Throwing money and benefits at A-talent may work at times, but it is not a strategy. And it’s certainly not sustainable. In the long-term it probably creates more problems. If money is the driver for people to join a company, money will always be the driver. And they will probably leave as soon as someone else gives them more.

Most large corporations have a process in place for managing resumes and candidates. It does not mean they do it well, but they have a process. Many smaller firms don’t have a process, and they don’t have a strategy. And it shows.

Take these small steps to build a strategy and start attracting better talent.

• Establish a process for recruitment and hiring. Identify someone to “own” your process. No rogue managers….everyone follows the process.
• Don’t solely rely on job postings as an awareness campaign for your openings. Be proactive in promoting your brand. If you do post jobs, focus more on your brand, vision and future and less on a laundry list of skills you seek.
• Implement an employee referral bonus program.
• Make the process reasonable for the candidate to navigate. Be clear on everything from next steps in the process to coaching your employees on who they may be interviewing and why. Get everyone on the same page.
• Map your company hiring plans with your growth plans.
• Make sure your employees know where the company has been and where it wants to go. They are spokespeople for your brand. They need to know your company’s story.
• Be honest about your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t sugarcoat stuff. The truth will come out eventually anyway.
• Acknowledge and respond to EVERYONE that submits resumes.
• CALL everyone you interview but do not hire. Thank them for their interest.
• Identify people that may fit future opportunities. Let them know you have this interest.
• Have formalized offer letters and job descriptions.
• Offer fair market salaries and benefits.
• Know what your salary range is and be firm. Pay extra if you have to but not as a policy. If it’s about money, this may not be the candidate for the long-term. Know this early.
• Have an on-boarding process established.
• Be clear and set expectations for success early with new hires.
• Have a training plan established.

16 easy steps every company can implement. You will become organized. Professional. Intent. Strategic.

You will begin to build a reputation as a company that values people. Not just the A-talent, but all people.

The A-talent will get the message.

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Are women better employers than men?

I approach a lot of agency principals to discuss their approach to their company cultures, personnel and the benefits of sound talent management policies on their staffs and their businesses. I ask questions like, “does your staff have clear expectations in their roles and do you provide on –going performance management and development to help them achieve those goals? “Are their goals in alignment with your business goals?” A get a lot of blank stares, nods to let me know they realize I’ve stopped talking and a lot of “oh yeah, we do that” responses when in reality I know they don’t do that. Many of these responses, or similar ones, come from men.

But I started to notice something interesting when I brought up the same questions with female agency principals. A lot of them said that they do in fact have performance management systems, that they have someone on staff who guides and nurtures their staff and the culture of the agency, or they have consulted with someone like me in the past. They tell me they talk about this stuff internally all the time. That it’s a big part of their business.

Do women get the concept of culture and sound talent management driving business success better than men? Are women more in tune to the needs of their employees? Is their inherent nurturing behavior creating more nurturing places to work? As a guy I understand the typical responses of male business owners. “they’re lucky they get a paycheck.” “I pay them for their work, and pay them well. What more do they need?” Men aren’t always as interested in the “soft” sides of their business. Bad mistake.

Employees want to feel like they are taken care of. That they are appreciated. Women might naturally do this better than men. Of course, I’ve seen women who were terrible managers and those who don’t pay much attention to the happiness of their employees. And I’ve seen men who were great at people skills, and great at supporting and empowering employees to succeed through sound management and growth. Some of them are clients and they get it.

It just seems to me in my current travels that I’ve seen more agencies run by women that had a better handle on their people issues than agencies run by men. Sorry guys, you’ve got some work to do.

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Throwing money at candidates?

In the ebb and flow, supply and demand world of creative services and the economy, the pendulum is swinging, or has swung, back to candidates/employees in certain areas such as interactive/new media design, motion graphics and development

When trying to hire these folks, or anyone else for that matter, if you find the need to increase salary offers, pay more than you want, more than the position has historically earned, and generally throw money at people to hire them, you have problems. But your problems are not purely monetary.

Your company is not a desirable place to work. And in the war for talent, that is a dangerous place to be.

Your culture may be broken. You may be in a undesirable location. Your firm may have a bad reputation on the street. The work you do may not be considered top notch. Whatever the reason, companies need to set out improving them immediately or risk being marginalized and left behind.

The goal is to create and develop an organization where people are pounding the doors to come work for you. And when they are, you know that salary and pay is not the driving factor; it becomes a secondary discussion. You can pay well of course, but the complete picture is such that people get more than money. And that’s really what the good employees want. The want a vibrant culture, opportunities for growth, a supportive management team and the chance to do great work and get rewarded for it.

You’re on your way to a people positive culture.

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Employers Behaving Badly

Usually we hear stories of interviews gone bad from the employer’s point of view. This summer has been one story after another of people relating the boorish behavior of employers. Not good when you are competing for talent every day. Unless you just don’t care who you hire.  Or how you treat people. But, things have a tendency to come back around in business and life.

When there is no established internal process for hiring, and no one “watching the store” all sorts of stumbles can occur. And they all reflect poorly on your recruitment brand and your company. It hurts business and you may not even know it’s occurring.

Recent examples from our travels through the employment landscape.

Candidate A goes to a web marketing/SEO agency that is growing rapidly. He has just left a web agency that was somewhat adrift. With a background in client and business management from both the agency and the client-side, he is highly qualified and has a strong Rolodex. He interviews with the agency principal and VP of business development.

During the interview, the VP of business development remains completely unengaged, sends text messages and e-mails, and when he does insert himself in the conversation, he is unclear as to what role this person was interviewing for. The agency principal does his best to keep the meeting on-track but the disconnect is clearly present. Result: no hire.

Now, the agency is thinking, well that was not the right fit for us. Fair enough. But, the individual had such a bad experience that he relates the story to others in his network. Result: people have a bad impression of the agency and the way they treat people. If one of these people in his network (one that maybe the agency does want to hire) hears his story, their initial impression of the agency is negative.

Oh, and by the way, Candidate A never heard back from the agency letting him know he was not offered the job. Naturally.

Large PR agency seeks account director. Former corporate/consumer brand manager and PR manager, candidate B, seeks new opportunity. Excellent candidate, respected agency. Candidate lives out of state….actually across the country. Agency recruiter schedules phone interviews that go extremely well. Wants the candidate to come in for a face-to-face interview with members of the executive team. Provides options on days/times. Candidate B begins to investigate flight/travel options. Waits for confirmation. Waits. Sends messages that flight needs to be booked soon to make the window of days the recruiter gave. Radio silence. Another message. Radio silence. Finally, candidate just needs to book flight and lands in town.  Still radio silence from the agency’s recruiter on confirming the interview. The candidate extends the trip to ensure they will still be in town if the recruiter finally calls.

Finally, the recruiter calls about scheduling the interview. They completely ignore all of the messages sent by the candidate and has scheduled the interview for the week after the candidate was in town, and even though she stays an extra week, it is scheduled on the one day the candidate has said they absolutely could not meet.

The agency not only looks unorganized and the recruiter has damaged their credibility. If put in a position of hiring negotiation, the candidate knows the recruiter has little internal influence. The recruiter has no respect for the candidate, but apparently is not respected in their own organization enough to get answers and scheduled interviews locked down.

The candidate may still be offered the position. And the executives in the agency have no idea of the poor treatment this person has received. Candidate B certainly cannot say anything about it. A candidate for employment is in no position to be a tattle tale.

Candidate B is left with an extremely negative opinion of the agency. If offered the job, she doubts she will accept. Worse yet, she is interviewing for corporate client side roles where one of her responsibilities will be hiring a PR agency.

Do you think she will call this agency?

No, don’t think so.

Companies….get a process, stick to it, communicate it to your staff and start building a recruitment brand. Or flounder in the war for talent and treat people like crap.

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A Positive Culture?

So, I read a blog post yesterday that was trying to define what makes a positive company culture. Unfortunately, like most, it missed the mark in a laughable way.

Basically, a good culture was defined as having the following aspects: A boss that is involved in the business, room for advancement, a flexible work schedule and working for a socially responsible company. I guess if you have these things, you should be happy at work content that you work in a firm with a great culture. Um, no.

While these are all positive attributes for a company to have, they could have no bearing on whether the culture is any good. Culture encompasses everything. Everything from what clothes you can wear to work, how you need to groom, to whether dishes get left in the sink, or whether people naturally pitch in to clean if needed.

But there is one key element that has to be in place before any company can even begin to think that they have a healthy culture. It’s what we look for in every potential client. Can they build or maintain a People Positive Culture?

What it is is this: Does the owner/principal/CEO-type care at all about their employees? Really care? Do they value what they provide? Or is having employees just a means to an end? The end being possibly selling the company. The financial windfall for the founders? That’s the dynamic that needs to be explored and answered before you ask whether you work in a People Positive Culture.

Without this, no amount of ping pong games, potato chips, happy hours, dog days, or whatever other perks your company provides, will fill the void and create a PPC. The culture may be fine, and you may be happy with your job, and that’s great. But you may not truly work for a company with a great culture. Could just be a mirage.

So, how might you determine whether you work for a company with a great culture? What happens when things go poorly? Are employees to blame whether deservedly or not? Does management take responsibility? How are exiting employees treated? Are they “shown the door” or are they celebrated for the contributions they made? Are people “laid off” only to have someone else replace them in a month or two? Is a former employee ever hired back? Would they ever want to come back?

Answers to some of these questions will help paint a picture on how your company really views its employees. And whether a People Positive Culture does or can exist.

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Welcome to People Positive Culture

This is the blog of potestio.com. We build People Positive Culture. We will try to remain positive.

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