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Hire Top Talent

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  • | 6:00 p.m. March 19, 2004
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Hire Top Talent

Companies that select, retain and develop top talent will become the market leaders.

What keeps executives up at night? Generating profits and finding good people and keeping them. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric Co. has noted that "executives are faced with the problem of needing to do everything they can to get the best players and involve them as well as making sure that every employee counts."

Consider the question: Are you really hiring and developing top or just average talent? According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projection, "By 2010 we will face a labor shortage of 10,033,000 people." This projection may seem a little hard to believe at the moment with the current economy's net job losses, and I don't know if this will actually happen, or which industries would be most or least affected. For the moment, let's assume this employee shortage is going to happen because, whether it does or doesn't, what follows is important to your organization's future competitiveness.

Traditionally, American businesses have looked at tangible assets with great pride since stockholders felt secure with organizations that own lots of hard assets. Times have changed to the point that, in many cases, intangible assets have become more important than tangible ones. I recently came across the following statistic - "intangible assets can account for up to 80% of the total market value of U.S. companies."

Companies that select, retain and develop top talent will become the market leaders. From the viewpoint of senior management, the challenge is how to evaluate candidates objectively. The problem with this approach is that it's backward - the first challenge is how to evaluate the job objectively - if the job could talk, it would clearly identify its performance issues: knowledge, hard skills, behavior, rewards/culture, personal skills.

An objective system is required to eliminate or reduce the biased opinions people form on performance criteria. To eliminate this bias, it's necessary to start with evaluating the job's performance issues, rather than the individual's. Subjectively, when listening to the job talk, we hear three different voices - how the job should be done, how we would like to do the job and how we currently do the job. To listen to the job talk (its performance benchmark) we should listen only to one voice - how the job should be done. Benchmarking the position will set a higher standard than benchmarking an average group of performers.

Benchmarking a job requires objectively evaluating it across three separate areas: 1) the attributes (personal talents) that the job requires for successful performance; 2) the values that a specific job rewards; and 3) the behavioral traits that a job demands.

Once the job has been objectively benchmarked, the next requirement is to objectively compare a candidate's talents, behaviors and values to those the job requires. This can be done readily by using valid assessment instruments that give an integrated picture of a person's talents, motivations and behaviors. This objective, line-by-line comparison is the key to matching a candidate to the job's requirements.

In my coaching practice, I rely on an instrument called The TriMetrix System. This is an objective, easy-to-understand process for benchmarking any position within an organization. It also provides a straightforward method for comparing a person or group of people to that benchmark. Not only is this instrument useful for benchmarking a job and comparing a candidate's skills to that job's requirements, it also identifies those specific candidate capacities that may need additional development.

Stephen Garber, who lives and works in the Sarasota area, provides executive coaching for people who need to choose, keep and develop performance champions. Questions and comments are always welcome at [email protected]


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