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Hank's Back

(August 17, 2005) Following the recent acquisition of Hire.com by Authoria, Hank Stringer took a well deserved break. Wandering from the hills of Colorado to the waterfowl marshes of Argentina to the setting of the recent Alamo movie, the serial entrepreneur caught up with family, friends and his own personal inner Hank-ness. We talked with him last week as he re-emerged from his short sabbatical.

It didn't take long to recall that Hank still has the best mind in the talent management business. We asked him to pull together his ten best suggestions for running a company that is a talent magnet. (You can email hank if you want to discuss further.) Be sure to look for his upcoming book (with Rusty Reuff at EA) Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business will be out in January and  can be pre purchased on Amazon.

Effective Talent Management remains one of the great opportunities to help companies successfully compete in global business today. Simply put, all companies hire talent and all people work. The company that sources, hires, develops and manages their talent roster better than their competition wins. It is that simple. Alas, companies continue to struggle. Here are 10 suggestions to turn your company into a competitive talent magnet. Identifying them is easy; the difficulty comes when you choose to implement and execute…courage my friends…courage.

  1. Successful Talent Management starts with the CEO. Define Talent Management for what it is…your company requires better talent than the rest of market. If you have better talent than the competition you win. Talent Management is comprehensive and includes everything it takes to accomplish this goal. Define the term and get agreement and full public support from the CEO. And support requires more than nice words about the importance of people in the annual report. It requires the understanding that without the right talent in the right place at the right time you lose. If the person responsible for Talent in your company is not meeting with the CEO regularly, go to suggestion 3.
  2. Separate Talent Management from HR…Immediately! Traditional HR is all about compliance and rules. The CEO has HR positioned to keep the company safe and it is an important role. It is not Talent Management. Talent Management needs autonomy, room and responsibility in order to help the company compete.
  3. Put the 'Right' Executive in Charge. A Chief Talent Officer - someone with a strong Operational background who understands Marketing and most importantly Strategic Recruiting. Someone who is credible with the CEO and Executive team and is not afraid to push the envelope. Talent Management requires results – appoint the right executive to drive them!
  4. Use 'New' Technology to Drive Results – Stop using 'Old' technology to process paper. How many corporations are on their 3rd or 5th generation resume based applicant tracking system? And the results? Not much…you know the people willing to submit resumes. Is that enough? Absolutely not! Use technology and services to design and manage your website to ensure you are creating and capturing a high per cent age of traffic at your career website (30% +). Note: Your career site is typically the 2nd most visited page on your corporate site and who visits? Competition, vendors and interested parties; a strong pool of interested Talent you do not want to miss. And if you don't know your capture rate today – find out first thing tomorrow. Note: most Talent will not submit a resume, therefore capture requires an interactive internet-based anonymous platform with Talent driven opt in technology. Use digital marketing, blogs, social networks, new media, podcasts and soon vcast to nurture relationships with interested talent. Old – no…New – YES!
  5.  Design and Implement a Strategic Talent Plan ASAP! Designing an appropriate comprehensive plan will take time and know how and don't be afraid to look outside your company for help. Your Marketing Department uses consultants because successful selling is important, getting a successful Talent Plan in place is just as important. The plan is a necessity and competitive opportunity as it is something few companies have in place. The plan is more than an 'employment brand' it is a complete plan and strategy from messages, to sourcing, attracting, nurturing, hiring, training, developing and managing talent. Remember, the Talent plan required must be bi-directional…people to people.  And the number of constituencies is high.  Again, not easy but necessary.
  6. Everyone in the company recruits. The benefits are obvious, however referral programs based on vacations, coffee mugs and monetary rewards don't work as well as they should for most companies because typically the same few get involved. Granted, a large number of companies rely on referrals to fill a high percentage of positions. But ask yourself if the pool of Talent you rely on is large enough or diverse enough to satisfy your Talent needs? Train everyone in the company on the Strategic Talent Plan and get their help. The better the talent, the more successful the company and success means everyone wins. Hint: referral programs should be introduced in new employee orientation and supported by an intranet system that has automated position alerts, updates, etc.
  7. Hire Great Recruiters! Man did companies flush some fine recruiting talent after the big burst. Some were contract but many were permanent. A few companies kept their recruiters in place when they were not hiring to build talent relationships while their competition was handing out pink slips. Who wins now? Don't let it happen again. Every company should hire strategic recruiters and make them a significant part of the long term corporate plan.  Great Recruiting Talent typically has 3rd party and corporate experience, they know how to source, how to manage a hiring authority and team and how to close all. This talent is not easy to come by, so find them, hire them and pay them well. If not, your competition will quickly learn their value and recruit them away.
  8. Know the Corporate Business Plan - Intimately. It is frustrating to ask a Director of Staffing or Recruiter to state the corporate value proposition, target market size, or plans to grow revenue and get a blank look or worse a nonsense answer. Know the corporate plan and align everyone in the Talent Department accordingly. Talent Management requires results that are driving the business and everyone in Talent Management should know enough to conduct a strategic business discussion with prospective Talent while informing the company where the talent is or is not and how to ensure the corporate plan will succeed. Know the plan – live the plan.
  9. Train Hiring Managers How to Interview and the Value of Immediate Feedback. How many good candidates do you lose because of poor interviewing and feedback? Would your VP of Sales allow lost sales due to poor qualifying, selling and closing skills? Nope, she would train and make sure the processes were flawless. Ask every candidate interviewed the percentage of time questions were asked and the percentage of time questions were answered. If not 20/80 you have a problem. And if you have any managers slow on the feedback loop you are likely experiencing more offer rejects than are necessary. Interviewing is not easy; it takes time and know-how….train, train and retrain your managers on the finer points if you want to attract great talent.
  10. Some Graciousness Please! We sometimes forget we are the face of the company. Know that every person who comes in contact with the talent organization is a candidate, customer or market influencer. Treat anyone badly and you have diminished market value. It used to be that 1 person told 7 any negative news and so on and so on. Well we have the internet now. A good friend refers to it as the new toilet of the world. Say or do something bad and news of it will be on the net (instead of the wall)…everywhere and fast.  And worse, you may never know it. A little graciousness goes a long, long way. A smile, a thank you, or I'm sorry when you are wrong. This includes your careers website and all the messages and correspondence the Talent Department has with all candidates…those offered and those rejected. HR has a reputation of treating people badly, it is our 'black eye' from the past and there are many excuses. There can be no excuses only solutions. The company that figures this out wins – big-time! Demand graciousness.

There are a number of companies that do understand Talent Management but we are far from universal solutions. As a result the Talent market remains the most exciting space in global business today with more than enough opportunity for new ideas and new solutions.  Think results!

Don't forget to check out the blogs on bert.

John Sumser

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