Step 4 or 4: High Performance Teams

Give employees a career instead of a job

“That’s just not fair!”

Whether it is true or not, this is not something you want employees to say.  Often is beyond a company’s power to control how employees feel.  However, company’s can avoid creating situations that might cause an employee to think or say this.  Companies DO have a great deal of control in which they hire and promote.

In my executive search business we often hear from executives who feel this way.  Either they have been passed over for a promotion or they have seen others passed over multiple times.  Sometimes their company never considered an insider for an open position. Whatever the reason, these people feel like a commodity instead of a valued contributor.  If this kind of perception starts to permeate the workforce the company is doomed – especially now that top talent is harder to find.

There are many reasons why a company would go outside to hire top talent; they don’t have a qualified person internally, they want fresh perspectives, they want competitor intelligence, etc…  Hiring outside is expensive, time intensive, and dangerous (see steps 1 & 2)! Often it can be avoided if companies have a career development culture instead of an open seat culture.

Hiring from your current employees only works if you diligently practice Step 3.  It also means a huge ROI on your labor expense.  When employees believe they have the opportunity to grow and advance they don’t spend time looking elsewhere.  When they enjoy a company development program they have greater confidence to take on more responsibility.  Employees will take their performance more seriously and pursue self-development agendas.  Giving an employee a career is a long-term investment strategy, one that every company must follow.

This is the final installment of the four steps to building a high performance team.  Putting these steps into practice will have tremendous impact on company profitability and competitive edge.  Don’t wait until your competition has all the top talent, beat them to the best people now!

Step 1 of 4: High Performance Teams

Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vor...

Image via Wikipedia

Make recruiting a process that is structure and tracked

What would you think of a farmer who decided to skip all the plowing and sowing and jump right into harvesting?   You’d think the farmer was deluded and crazy?  How can a crop be harvested if the seeds were never sown?  How can crops grow if the soil isn’t plowed and watered?  It would be insanity to think a farmer could go straight to harvest without doing all the things necessary to cultivate their crop.

This is how many organizations approach recruiting.  They have a critical opening and suddenly they want to harvest top talent.  Like the farmer they too need to cultivate the talent pool and sow their employment brand long before they start to harvest.  This means that recruiting has to be a process that is incorporated into the overall company culture .  It has to be an ongoing activity that is measured and tuned.

Here are some simple ways high performing organizations sow seeds and cultivate a healthy crop of top talent:

  • Promote their company as a highly desired place to work
  • Create relationships with potential employees as early as high school
  • Advertise their jobs to attract top talent rather than screen out applicants
  • Profile key jobs
  • Establish an ongoing relationship with a niche search firm

Of course, there are variables specific to every organization.  But the faster companies begin to cultivate their talent pool, the faster they’ll have the right people to hire.


Small Things Matter When You Hire

Me Running

Image via Wikipedia

A few weeks ago I took an extended trip with my family.  The first morning I woke up before everyone else to go for a run.  As I dressed I suddenly realized I had forgotten my running cap.  That might not seem like a big deal, but it makes a real difference in the quality and enjoyment of my run.   I always run with that cap, it keeps the perspiration out of my eyes, provides a shield from the sun, and has a safety reflector quality to it.  When I got into mile two my eyebrows didn’t work  as well as that cap. I spent the rest of my run annoyed and wiping my eyes .   In the haste of packing for the trip I forgot to include a small detail that created a consequential impact.

The same is true when a company is trying to hire a key player.  The small details have a consequential impact.  Forget to create a performance profile?  Than all you have is a job description.  Forget to write an attraction oriented job posting?  Than all you have are ‘B’ and ‘C’ level people applying.  Forget to profile the job?  Then all you can do is validate a resume.   Missing just one of these details causes companies to make costly hiring mistakes.

If I had used a packing checklist I might have remembered my running cap.  Likewise, companies that use structured hiring process make much better hiring decisions.

Score Goals With ‘A’ Players

This past weekend my son and I traveled to New Hampshire for a college lacrosse recruiting showcase.  High school lacrosse players from around the country gathered to show their stuff to some forty college lacrosse coaches.  The stakes don’t get much higher for a high school player.  Scholarships and bragging rights are all on the line.  This is the big game and they have to “bring it”.

My son played on a team composed of many different high schools.  Not only had his team never played together, they had never met each other until twenty minutes before the first game.  Yet once the whistle blew you would have thought they had grown up with each other.  It was exciting and amazing to watch each player move to their usual position.  They instinctively knew what the other players were going to do.  Within the first few minutes of the game the ball moved down the field and their first goal was scored.  They went on to win. 

This happened because they were all ‘A’ players.  Although they had never met, never played together, never practiced as a unit, they were successful.  ‘A’ players just know what they have to do to achieve their objective.  They have a passion for their role on the team and they are perfectly matched for the job they must do.  When this combination exists it becomes a winning formula.

Businesses can use this same formula as well.  Put an ‘A’ level employee in the role he or she was made to fill and get out of their way.  Productivity and bottom line results will soar if this idea becomes a strategic focus. Sadly almost 50% of workers in the US are in the wrong job.  Most a ‘C’ players who were placed in ‘A’ player jobs our out of expediency or through ineffective hiring processes. 

Employee productivity, effectiveness, and bottom line impact is more important now than ever before.  Businesses have to learn to do more with less. Over the next 15 years the labor force will start to contract and the “war for talent” will rage once again.  With fewer people to choose from, businesses must be more strategic in how the attract, hire, and retain key contributors.  Not doing so means eroded profitability and the dulling of your competitive edge.  It is just too expensive to put ‘C’ or ‘B’ level players in key contributor roles.

The first place to start is redefining how a business attracts these ‘A’ level employees.  If your recruiting plan is to cut and paste a job description into an online job board then you’ve already lost the game.  These people don’t respond to online job ads, especially the dull and uninspiring ads most companies post.   You have to learn what makes an ‘A’ player tick, find out where they gather and who they associate with, and communicate your job as being tailor made for them.  These employees are looking for new challenges, they want to learn new things, and they want an environment that allows them to grow and excel. 

Do you want winning players on your team?  Then start by identifying what that player looks like and start attracting them to your organization.  If you make this a strategic part of your business plan you’ll start scoring goals a lot earlier in your game.