The why and how of hiring

Tuesday, 1 February 2011 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Deepanie Perera

Business today is going through a ‘war for talent’. And if that is bad enough news, the war for ‘right talent’ must be even worse. No doubt, the situation is worsening. Wait, it’s not all gloomy out there.

So how does one win in a battlefield from narrowing resources and fiercely rising threats from all quarters to delivering on the interests of the parties concerned and come out unscathed in different battles fought to win the war?

Let us consider the composition of battlefields making up the warfare that is in focus.

The make-up of battlefields

Business opportunities are emerging and fast evolving. The position of the customer continues to get better. S/he is increasingly informed of the options available, having positioned in a powerful place.

Customers are not after products or low costs, but service. An unmatchable, inimitable service that is far superior to your competition, a service that is giving you the edge over your rival and a service that is delivered with passion, absolute passion. Gone are the days of satisfying the customer, and instead permanently replacing it with ‘customer delight’ that is here to stay.

Talent – The only differentiator

The shift towards delivering service excellence is a journey, on its way, shaping businesses to arrive at an all-encompassing competitive advantage. As articulately put together by New York Times’ Thomas Friedman in his bestseller ‘The World is Flat,’ all business has access to all resources without discrimination.

But what would differentiate you keeps you at the edge, and that is your talent, your people; your people who deliver lasting customer experiences. It’s only people and people alone, giving enduring reasons for customers not only to return to you but to make a concerted choice to remain with your brand.

So, what choices does business have to hire people with such talent?

Challenging search for inimitable talent

Going by the proverbial argument of ‘war for right talent’ poses incomprehensible challenges for organisations. Talent alone is highly scarce, making the quest for right talent a daunting effort, making businesses vulnerable towards the search of right talent and more importantly, making the ‘hired’ deliver on aspired business results.

The gap between what our primary and tertiary education systems churn out, opposed to the need of the market place, continues to widen. Many an eventuality has caused this short supply. Thanks to the foresight of the current political administration, there is hope that employable graduates would be produced in the not so far away future.

They must essentially know the basics, meaning what the textbook says and doesn’t say too, move away from ‘armchair general-ship’ and get their hands muddy in business deliverables. Attitude is everything. Build ‘never say die’ stamina and nerves of steel that are hard to copy or imitate by the competition.

Given the current state of affairs, it is not hard to grip the reasons for unemployment today. Organisations could hardly hire from those who are jobless, simply because the majority do not fit the bill.

They don’t make up the ‘right talent’ that is in severe shortage in the market place.

The responsibility to get the right recipe for talent is multi-pronged, resting with both employers and employees, supported by national level needs and initiatives and international level approaches and wants.

The way to go

Creating a sizeable talent pool under the current circumstances discussed, needs care in planning, creativity, innovation and competitiveness in approaching, and moreover, doing the extraordinary to cap it all.

Should the search begin with search itself? Yes, to searching for a business vision followed by searching for talent. How would one search for talent, without matching that talent with the realisation of your vision? Don’t bark up the wrong trees. It’s back to basics.

The end is the vision and the means is the right talent. Easy conceptually, extremely challenging practically.

Consider these 10 practical steps for hiring the right talent and moreover, proving your approaches to be right:

nDo your math. Work the optimal numbers (cadre) you require to deliver business results. The numbers in terms of right talent needs. HR plan is a must have in your business plan and annual budgets.

nTake stock of the current talent pool you have on board, the competencies – knowledge, skills and attitudes. Inventorise to get ahead and remain competitive. Identify the talent gaps.

nTarget to hire the ‘specialists’ produced for your respective industry. Do not lose sight of those important ‘generalists’ too, while you look for specialists. It would be worth a while to consider hiring from an irrelevant industry or field to introduce newness to business. Stay creative.

nDon’t chase after experience, but attitudes. Identify the energy and passion when selecting talent. Your interview is a useful tool here.

nProvide modern and creative work options, such as: flexi hours, virtual work, casual work, etc. Remember, the war for right talent is ruthless. Don’t lose right talent because you are so hung up and reluctant to change with what today’s employees are really looking for.

nEncourage your current performers to recommend future performers, through an employee referral system. Remember, no one would want to risk their reputation by recommending anyone they don’t trust to deliver.

nStay focused on identifying the service orientation of the candidate. Remember, that is your only differentiator in our fast paced business environment.

nUse robust selection tools. Be creative. Don’t forget to accommodate your gut too.

nImprove your hiring practices continuously. Review success.

nBenchmark with talent globally and locally. Invest in uplifting the bench periodically. Commit and develop an obsession towards training and development.

nMeasure performance of your people, as accurately as possible. Consider incorporation of indicators to HR’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) i.e. retention of high performers hired during the last six to 12 months, success of new hires during the past three months, etc.

Get to the driving seats of your organisations. Manoeuvre towards business results. The right talent is within your reach.

(The writer – MBA (Sri J), DPHRM (UK), CPE (Cambridge, UK) – is a Business Consultant, HR Specialist, Corporate Trainer, Lecturer and Director/Chief Executive Officer of Target Resource. The author could be reached at [email protected] or [email protected])