How to Attract the Talent You Want

  • Treat every candidate with respect for their interest. Whether you are recruiting inexperienced new graduates or C-level executives, give every candidate the respect they deserve as people. Being honest, open and professional is critical to candidates’ perceptions of your company. Never violate this rule in your talent-finding formula.
  • Create a professional hiring process; then follow it. Explain the hiring process to all candidates; follow it religiously. Depending on the authority level of different jobs, you’ll need to vary your process at times. However, to maintain your professional credibility, you must follow the process you have explained to the candidate.
  • Design a positive process for candidates that don’t “make the cut.”  Have you experienced the horrors or heard about other candidates who were told that they would hear from a company after an interview, only to hear nothing? Employers who practice this “policy” must not realize the damage they do to their reputation and brand. Candidates have friends and family who are also consumers and can refer other talented people. Outstanding leaders develop a formula that offers dignified ways to deliver a professional “no” message.
  • Create a hiring formula that gives you flexibility.  Your recruiting and hiring formula should recognize that you may sometimes need candidates with unusual educational or behavioral qualifications specific for the job, department or team. A winning talent-finding formula allows you to be consistent, but flexible when necessary. If you want to consistently attract the best talent, make flexibility your trusted partner.
  • Create a pleasant “candidate experience” for all job seekers and recruits.  You might compare this component to the popular branding goal of creating a positive “customer experience” for all consumers who contact your company. Treating all candidates with respect, keeping your hiring process consistent, and having a professional communication strategy for non-hires increases your probabilities of attracting and hiring the best talent available.

Consider using some or all of these suggestions to create your effective plan and winning recruiting programs. If  these features sound like basic human courtesy and respect more than textbook HR principles, you’re right.

Whether you are recruiting for a part-time mail clerk or a Vice President of IT, the candidate will judge your leadership ability—and your company—by the way you manage the hiring process. Your company faces no more risk when hiring a lower-level employee than when interviewing executive suite candidates. Your professional hiring process should be consistent for all candidates.

For example, the inexperienced part-time candidate may have an older sibling or family member who is eminently qualified for an open executive position. Further, lower level candidates may not be shy about telling everyone in sight about the treatment they received when interviewed by you or your company. If it was a positive experience, he or she may sing your praises. Conversely, if it was a negative experience, the candidate may be equally vocal in recommending that family and friends not buy your company’s products or services.

Join the fraternity of outstanding leaders by designing a professional, effective talent-finding formula. Your career and employer will reward you many times over.

How to Get the Best Performance from Diverse Teams

As more businesses rely on teams to perform projects and achieve goals, management must learn to maximize their productivity and minimize inherent potential downsides. This challenge is spiced with increasing diversity, including age, education, language and cultural differences.

Managers’ performance ratings often depend on the achievements of their teams. This condition mandates that managers learn to work well with diverse teams, using teammate talents to the max, while building a finely tuned group that is motivated to deliver high performance.

University of California, Irvine, PhD candidate Kenji Klein noted in the published paper, “Culturally Diverse Teams that Work,” that culturally diverse teams “. . . can boost firm performance, but that potential comes with some risk.” Klein’s research displayed that results of diverse teams are divided—sometimes they work well; at times they do not.

The prime questions that managers must answer: How to take advantage of diverse teams? Team diversity works best when responsible for the following tasks.

  • Projects that demand focus from a variety of angles and perspectives.
  • Subjects that include understanding information from various sources, requiring innovative answers and out-of-the-box ideas.

Managers facing more obvious, routine tasks or projects may generate better results by using less diverse, more homogenous teams. In these situations, teams with educationally and culturally similar members can benefit from the following advantages.

  • Faster and better communication.
  • Better cohesion and quicker collaboration to solve problems.
  • Smoother implementation of changes and solutions.
  • Projects having short deadlines benefit from using less diverse teams.

Assembling diverse high-performing teams require managers to have one quality above all others—patience. Research from a variety of institutions, including MIT’s Sloan School of Management, indicates that newly formed diverse teams initially do not perform very well.

However, over time, team members become more comfortable working with their teammates and deliver higher performance when their leader (manager) has the patience to let teammates adjust to each other’s differences and perspectives.

Along with exhibiting patience, managers should allow diverse team members to integrate their different views instead of encouraging teammates to suppress their age, cultural or educational differences. If managers select the right team members, while giving them the freedom to become a cohesive group over time, diverse teams tend to perform better than more homogenous groups in the long-term.

Managers, who are patient and offer diverse teams freedom to find their own ways to collaborate, enjoy the following benefits.

  • High-level innovative ideas and solutions.
  • Team members who are comfortable offering out-of-the-box thinking and suggestions to each other and to management.
  • Teams that overcome initial conflicts rising from diversity to become high performing, cohesive groups.
  • The ability to give these teams complex projects, requiring innovation and creativity, with the confidence that their valuable combination of diversity and cohesion will deliver outstanding solutions.

Two conditions seem to apply across the board with few dissenters:

  • Globalization of business demands that managers find ways to work with highly diverse teams.
  • Most diverse teams take a while to fuse and integrate their differences to focus on collaboration to achieve their goals.

Managers who accept and understand these consistent tendencies should enjoy excellent results from their diverse teams. Leaders still must be aware of potential conflicts arising from personality, not cultural, diversity. Assembling winning diverse teams may demand some management tweaking of team members involved in bad chemistry situations.

Evaluating team cohesion is important, even when managers assemble homogenous teams for shorter-term projects. Patient managers, who give their diverse teams the freedom to work past their initial cultural differences, will be pleased they adopted this approach. Diverse teams, aware of their leader’s patience and understanding, typically form high-performing, cohesive groups that solve the most complex problems with innovative solutions.

How to Manage Your Gen Ys

If you’re like many managers, your employees are increasingly gen Ys who bring valuable qualities to the workplace. they’re willing to work long hours. and they relish working for organizations whose values matter to them.

To attract, retain, and get the most from Gen Ys, create the right kind of work environment. Start by emphasizing your company’s values, reputation, and community involvement to Gen Y job candidates. They often prefer to work on their own schedules, so be fexible about asynchronous work. Where possible, performance management should focus on task completion, not time spent.

Tips for Leading Change

Change is a constant in today’s organizations. Leaders need to be adaptive, flexible, and innovative.

However, trying to be “better at leading change” can be an overwhelming vague challenge. Instead of taking on a leadership style full force, start with small experiments: Try out a new way of delegating; test different approaches to communicating your vision and expectations; experiment with new ways of giving feedback. Reflect on what works and what doesn’t. These small steps are manageable, and what you learn from these experiments will help you shape your leadership skills, while modeling how change happens.

Identifying High-Potential Employees

Who will be ready to run your company when you can’t be everywhere anymore? Here’s how to pick your next generation of leaders.

As your company grows too big for you to do everything–the way you do now–you’re going to give over some of the leadership. (Relax. This is a good thing!) For reasons of staff morale, economy, and your own precious peace of mind, it’s better to find your new generation of leaders inside the company. But there’s a rub. Not every longtime loyal employee is really suited to be a leader.

Some have reached their potential and are quite comfortable where they are. This doesn’t imply mediocrity. It simply means that their role at the company and their ambition have converged, and a degree of leveling has set in. Others on your staff might be the “me-me” type–utterly convinced of their own limitless potential and blind to the overwhelming evidence that they’ve gone as far as they’re going to get.

How do you decide who among your longtime lieutenants have what it takes? I point to five criteria:

1. They know the business. Your high-potential employees are the ones who have true expertise and keep learning. Their knowledge may be technical or it may be institutional, but it’s invaluable for the organization. More important, they understand how their activities, their sector, and their realm of knowledge is related to the company’s goals.

2. Others respect them. Your staff members, not just you, also have to appreciate how much your high-potentials know. It’s not enough that your top people know their stuff. Everyone else has to know they know it.

3. They are ambitious. High-potential employees aren’t just career-minded; they’re ambitious in a focused way. The best way to get a sense of this is to evaluate their commitment to career progression. Look for signs that they long to accumulate new responsibilities, new successes, additional knowledge, and, for better or worse, additional recognition.

4. They work well with others. Though your leaders need to be driven, they also must be able to form partnerships with others besides you. This attitude goes beyond amiability; it’s a pragmatic, tactical skill that allows them to make better, more informed decisions. Lone rangers may be creative and ambitious, but they make lousy leaders.

5. They have guts. Your next generation of leaders must understand that no matter how much research they do, no matter how many cost-benefit analyses they conduct, no matter how many market surveys they complete, they will always be deciding under conditions of uncertainty. The information at hand will always be less than the information you wish you had. Leaders need to have the courage to take risks.

Though you don’t want your next generation of leaders to be clones of you, you do want them to have the traits that drove you to build a growing company. You want them to know their stuff. You want them to have a good reputation on your team. You want them to be driven but able to give and accept help. Finally, you want them to have the courage to make tough decisions, even if there’s a chance they’ll fail. Because that’s how entrepreneurship works.