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|Recruiting and Retaining Superstars|
By Scott Cadwalader, Managing Partner, Diligent Partners LLC
The quality of your people defines your culture. Your recruitment efforts leverage and replicate their strengths. Your best people, not just programs, can be your best sales tool in attracting and retaining superstars.
We all have read the articles. Over the past 10 years, companies have become increasingly creative in their approaches to creating cultures that look attractive to prospective employees and are achingly difficult for existing employees to abandon. Here, in Los Angeles, automotive companies offer terrific lease packages on — you guessed it — cars. Entertainment companies like Disney or Universal offer such soft benefits as free film screenings or family passes to their theme parks. During the Y2K hysteria, golden handcuffs equal to 20 to 30 percent of base salaries were being offered to anyone who could even spell "Cobol." When you look at elements of the programs offered — from an infinite variety of compensation and benefits packages, to such perks as health and fitness programs — you have to ask yourself, "why is it so hard these days to hire and hang on to good people?"
At inception, these programs create an aura of culture. Over time, employees may cite them as defining elements of their culture. No one set of programs works better than another for all employers, and there is no shortage of ideas in the trade press from which to draw. While many of these programs are terrific, programs in and of themselves do not define a corporate culture. Culture is not defined by your language, your race, or your nationality. Culture is defined by the behavior, education, creativity, and ethics of you and your neighbors. All executives need to be ever mindful that how they and their managers communicate these attributes is the pivotal factor for recruiting and retention (R&R) success.
R&R Success Demands Executive Leadership
Mr./Ms. Executive, you have to take charge. You cannot defer this matter to the Human Resources (HR) department. R&R is the biggest challenge you face, because in today's demand marketplace, if you can't find the right people, your organization will fail. You have to get involved personally, get all your best people involved, and you have to stay at the center of this campaign. The reason is not only to ensure that you succeed in your recruitment efforts, it is to ensure that your best people stay with you over the long term.
What makes many executives blanche at getting personally involved in recruitment is that a successful R&R program deals with something very un-linear, frequently illogical, and utterly unpredictable... people. Many executives offload recruitment responsibility to HR because they don't feel comfortable, or they prefer to tackle challenges that are, to them, more tangible, more predictable, or — ahem — "strategic." And let's face it, when a person makes an honest effort at recruiting (or retaining) someone they really value, they are likely to invest some emotion in the effort. When such an effort fails to go the direction you expect, it takes its toll on you. I'm no more immune to it than you.
I am not advocating that you take away recruiting from HR or — God forbid — professional recruiters. Everyone has their role to play, and as I'll address a bit later, you need a multifaceted R&R strategy. My point is that many executives forget that, whether they like it or not, they are the main attraction. You may look like Danny DeVito, but if you are an executive with a great reputation, the people you want most will view you as Brad Pitt. Don't shy away from that role. Embrace it.
Recruiting and Retention Truths
If you accept that it is the quality of the people that defines your culture, your recruitment efforts must be geared to leverage and replicate their strengths. Focus on these R&R truths as a means of improving the cultural wellness and retention levels of your organization.
Netting It Out
Exert your own leadership. The most elaborate, multifaceted recruitment and retention program will do you little to no good if your participants do not have a thorough understanding and commitment to the principles, objectives, and processes required. If you begin by leveraging the strengths of your stars, in time you will effect a cultural transformation where retention is merely a statistical footnote, and recruiting is a process run with confidence.
This article was originally published by 3Com InTouch, an online advisory magazine for CIOs.