Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Finding or Developing Top Talent?

This morning I was on a conference call with a couple of colleagues when the question was posed, "What really is more important to small business employers; Finding great people or developing the talent they have?"

I think when you take a step back, they are really two different conversation threads. For now, let's start the discussion around, attracting top talent.

Good talent is hard to find and when you find a candidate you are sure would be great for your team, you have to compete with other employers to get the deal done. This means that you may have to spend valuable time on the recruiting process; done right, the time spent will be well worth the effort.

So where do you start? First, just saying "We need to hire a sales person..." really won't cut it...a step further, "We need to hire a sales person that has experience selling the types of widgets we sell". Better, but there's more to it than that. Let me take a quick tangent here (for anyone who knows me this is normal). I have a background in software product management (R&D). The product management team is usually responsible for studying the market, trends, competition, how the product should be used, look and feel, user experience, swot, pricing, packaging, launch etc. The first thing product managers do before getting Development involved and building or enhancing a new product is, WRITE A BUSINESS REQUIREMENT. (Close tangent).

When you want to find great talent, start with YOUR requirements of the candidates. Education, background, experience, are all obvious areas in question, but what about your company's culture? Work environment? Your style. Are you looking for someone to be a "company guy" (not being sexist here, just brief) or "one of the guys" or are you looking for someone to come in and bring new thoughts and ideas to the table (and possibly expand your horizon a bit) to help expand your business.

Writing a Candidate Requirement is key to understanding what you really need and want for your business. Having the Requirement doc will be a great advantage in crafting the job description for your candidates and/or recruiters.

When interviewing, ask questions that will give you a glimpse of how the candidate may approach a problem or opportunity; not just what you can already read on a resume.

At the end of the day you are looking for good people, as Rock Bottom Restaurant Founder and Chairman, Frank Day framed up for a friend of mine years ago,

"We want to hire good people. We can teach good people anything. I can't teach an idiot not to be a moron!"

Good luck in finding the right players for your team!


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