By Tony Kubica and Sara LaForest
A recent survey conducted by the Kaufman Foundation with entrepreneurs at the Inc. 500 Conference revealed that the biggest impediments to growth are: finding qualified people and managing fast growth (which repres
ented 61% of the impediments facing fast-growing companies).
We know from high school physics that physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. So metaphorically, we are saying that future employees are attracted to your organization and great employees will stay, based on its mass. And we define “organizational mass” as:
- Your brand
- Your culture
- Strong strategic leadership to establish strategic growth plans
- Sound management practices that are focused on communication
- Being competitive in the marketplace with compensation and benefits
- Being a “learning organization” so people that come will stay and grow with you
- Being a business that celebrates and recognizes the greatness in its employees and collective results
Interestingly, as you build a talent gravity organization, you will also be addressing the second impediment to growth—managing a fast-growing company.
Step 1: Start with Branding
As business leaders who want to grow your organizations, you want to attract high-potential talent who will best position your organization to deliver its promise to the marketplace.
What are you doing about your brand? You don’t have to be a Google, an Apple or some other billion-dollar company. What you have to be is different and remarkable in your niche. How you choose to present yourself to your market will either encourage or discourage candidates. Consider these three key questions:
- What’s your message to the marketplace?
- What’s your promise?
- How is it different?
Next, how are you getting that message out to the masses? For example, you can be writing articles and position papers, creating videos, distributing podcasts and presenting on teleseminars, webinars and at live events.
Yes, a small company just starting out can catch the attention not only of the market but also from the people who you want to attract.
Contrary to current fear-based economics and projections, there are more jobs available in select areas than there are qualified people to fill them. So to grow, you need to fill them, and you will only do that if you are a place where people are standing in line to become a part of. And it starts with your brand!
Step 2: Get Your Future Employees Excited
Just like in the market, your brand can bring clients (and future employee prospects) to the door, but then what happens? Do you keep the promise, or is it all fluff?
Future employees need to be excited about what they see and experience when they meet you. Candidates want to have their expectations met. They want to see and hear:
- Excitement about where the company is going
- Frequent talk about the team and “how you get things done”
- Success stories—how you win in the marketplace
- Stories about the successes of employees both in a job-related context and in a personal context
None of these cost money! They are the by-products of a company with a strong culture.
Do you know what your culture is? Do you know the experience interviewees have with your company?
Now, the next step deals with how to close the deal and not have buyer’s remorse—or a disappointed new employee.
Step 3: Select and Retain the Best Talent
Talent management starts with selection. (Remember your brand and culture brought them to the point where they are interested in talking to you about employment.)
We recommend eight components for a successful talent-management program:
- A rigorous talent selection process
- An on-boarding program that supports transition and swift assimilation to your organization)
- A meaningful (vs. routine) performance review system
- Opportunities for learning and growth, whether training is part of annual goals identified by and with the employee, a learning management system, coaching, off-site training or opportunities for certifications
- An employee incentive, reward and recognition program
- Management training that prepares new/promoted managers for their role as leaders versus staff, line or field workers
- Leadership development to establish and promote emerging leaders for your succession plan
- Succession planning where you identify and develop the leadership pipeline of successor candidates for executive and mid-management roles
Remember, the process is not over when you hire a new employee. It’s a process that starts—not ends—with the job offer. The best way to look at the eight components is not linear, but as a circle starting with talent selection, with each component building on the previous component. Succession planning is the transition point; the point where one employee transitions out (into a new and bigger role within your organization) and another fills the vacancy. Think about this as an upward spiral for the employee.
Businesses are “organic organisms.” They thrive or fail based on how they are nourished. And it is your talent that nourishes your organization. So don’t feed it junk or starve it.
Finding qualified people will continue to plague the marketplace for the next few years. It will take time for the educational system to catch up with the new marketplace demands.
You Have Two Choices as an Entrepreneur, Small-Business Owner or Organizational Business Leader:
- You can complain about it and about the shortcomings of the educational system and the lack of good candidates, or
- You can focus on becoming what we call a “talent gravity organization” and make choosing your company the decision of choice.