There’s nothing that can make more of a difference than building a great team to execute your business plan. When all the parts are in place, with an optimal blend of talents, skills, and personalities, the job of a CEO or COO becomes less “managing” and more “leading” – exactly where they need to be.
With the economy still in recovery and many professionals in the job marketplace, you would think that finding and hiring the right people would be an easier task these days, but in many ways it’s only made it harder – akin to finding that needle in a haystack.
What can a leader do to improve his or her chances of finding and securing the top talent? Here are four steps that have served me well over my business career:
1. Review and Refine Your Published Job Descriptions – Top talent wants to be challenged. They want more responsibilities. And most of all, today’s up-and-comers want a dynamic and open work environment where they are given a clear opportunity to make a difference. Does your job description convey that kind of opportunity, or is it a rote bullet point list of roles and responsibilities? Treat your job advertisements with the same care as your product advertisements, and you’ll attract better candidates.
2. Headhunters Cost Money, But The Good Ones Will Pay You Back Many Times Over - Yes, they can be expensive. Yes, they cost a lot of up-front money. But a trusted Executive Search firm that really understands your needs, and has a long track record of success, is really worth it. The trick is to find the right one. Take the time to do it Ask your peers in your industry, and in your other executive circles, for references. And let them go to work for you.
3. Go Out And Recruit Yourself, by Attending Trade Shows and Conferences - Many times over the course of my career, I went to a trade show or a vendor conference not to learn, but to recruit. I made one of my best hires ever just sitting in on a panel session and watching someone ask a lot of very intelligent questions. I took the time to meet this person after the session, and a few weeks later, I hired him in a critical leadership role, and he turned out to be one of our best performers.
4. Take Some Calculated Risks on “Inexperienced” Talent- Sometimes you have to trust your gut, and overrule your HR department and peers on someone who, based on the resume and some preliminary screening, just seems “too inexperienced” for the job. Dig deeper into their educational background, their personalities, and more importantly, their capability to learn and adapt. The person I mentioned in #3 was a prime example – my CEO told me I was making a big mistake, but I held my ground, and it paid off.
There’s one more story on #4 – 23 years ago, a very successful entrepreneur who had just bought a Top 20 Cable TV company took a big chance on a person just five years out of college to run his operations, and it paid off for him three years later when that company was sold for a very healthy profit.
That person was me. And I’m sure glad I had that opportunity -I made the most of it.
Find those needles – follow these steps and take a few chances of your own.
(Terry Starbucker has been in the business world for over 28-years, as a manager, leader and executive in the financial and service industries. He now writes about his multiple success stories and the art of leadership in his popular blog, “TerryStarbucker.com”, and is a co-founder of SOBCon, a biannual conference and one of the best learning forums for small and medium-sized business owners in the US, with its unique “models and masterminds” format)