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It is better
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John Sumser

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John Gall


The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

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(February 27, 2003) -
-  We're back and fresher having spent several days in the company of a group of leading edge players. This week, in Scottsdale, hosted another one of its Talent 10 symposia. It's a tiny, collegial group of focused and highly productive HR/Staffing executives who choose to work together on tough questions.

The topics were, in broad terms, Aligning HR with Organization Strategy, Mapping the Roles of Each Employee and Technology Needs and Integration. The assembled group represented an employee base of 600,000 and revenues of nearly $300 Billion. Each executive was committed to the development of proactive recruiting, internally and externally in their organizations (and had a couple of scars to prove it).

Woven throughout the 2 day conversation question was a simple thread: How do we consistently find people with 'juice'?

Juice is that impossible to quantify characteristic, along the lines of 'gets it', that distinguishes an employee from the rest of the pack. The term comes from IBM's heyday and was an essential qualification for membership in the famous IBM sales force of the 1960s and 1970s. The interview team would look at each other, wink and say "She's got the juice".

It's conventional wisdom that 20% of the people produce 80% of the results. They are the ones with Juice. In a startup, the juice is evident as some people produce at a superhuman pace while others grow weary after a nine or ten hour day. Having the Juice doesn't imply workaholism, however, we've known many executives who transitioned from military roles who could produce a week's worth of results in a six hour day.

Juice is some idiosyncratic combination of focus, persistence, imagination, determination and willingness to accept responsibility for things far beyond individual control. In another career, we saw the difference simply. Some people were the system. Some people worked for the system. It was never as elegant as the local hierarchy or the political structure. Some people simply made things happen by their presence.

Our cultural emphasis on detailed qualifications, both in education and job selection, takes us directly away from finding people with 'the juice'. They may not meet the paper qualifications but are the ones who make the difference.

Clearly, the real retention problem for any organization is "How do we retain 100% of the people with the juice?" When attracting and selecting candidates, the question is "How do we consistently identify the talent with the juice?" Although we find it unlikely, it would be wonderful to live in a world where every candidate's question was "How do I get the juice."

The juice is something hat only a trained, high performing recruiter with seasoned judgment can observe and articulate. We know of no juice discovering assessment system. Certainly, no current automated recruiting system offers reliable access to the juice. The worst of them automate and multiply transactional work. The best thin the crowd so that a seasoned eye might be able to identify a high-performer.

The Talent 10 group  is a seasoned bunch of players who, while juggling aggressive politics and integrating new technology are able to keep their eyes on the real ball. Recruiting is only useful when it focuses on building the company. That's a very different thing than reviewing large quantities of resumes. is an amazing company. Throughout the proceedings, their assembled executive team resisted every temptation to chime in with the "our product does that" refrain that you'd expect from a lesser group. In fact, their offerings met a great number of the requirements discussed. But, that's not the point of Talent 10. runs these meetings as a way of giving back to the industry.

We're privileged to be a part of the process.

- John Sumser  

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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