Finding the right people is always top priority in business

The summer issue of Smart Business Philadelphia is focused on finding talent and then managing it after you are lucky enough to get it.

I’d like to say that this was part of some grand plan, but the theme developed much more organically. When you think about it, however, it’s not that unusual for recruitment and retention to be top of mind for our readers.

I can’t tell you know many CEOs, presidents and senior executives have told me in an interview: “Our people are our greatest assets. They are the ones who allow us to grow and be successful.”


Listen and learn

Both the cover story and feature story are with business leaders whose main focus is talent.

Ed Baumstein, founder and CEO of professional services firm SolomonEdwards, has been personally responsible for connecting more than 1,000 employees with employers.

He spoke as part of an EY Strategic Growth Forum® panel and shared some tricks of the trade he’s learned to separate top job candidates in this month’s feature.

One of the things I found most interesting was how often he sees hiring managers spend 98 percent of the time dominating a conversation with job candidates, and then later say, “Boy, that candidate was really terrific.”

A job interview needs to be mainly focused on learning about the candidate. So, I wonder how often does more talking than listening happen?

It would be a good idea to record a few of the job interviews at your company. Then, you could have someone else go back and listen to see who is doing the talking. It may be a case of just showing your hiring managers how they aren’t maximizing the interview time.


Don’t tell me; show me

Another useful tip came from our cover story subject, J. Jeffrey Fox, who runs Source4Teachers, a staffing firm that provides highly-skilled substitute personnel to school districts.

Fox discussed how he’s developed his management team and other leaders in his company by thinking ahead.

After reviewing personnel with his senior management team and HR, Fox keeps an eye on several people who have the potential to take on more responsibility and lead the company.

Then, he watches and learns.

“I keep them in my head and that allows me to interact and just ask or inquire about how they’re doing or take them to lunch or see them on a one-on-one basis just so that I can get to know them a little better,” he says.

Fox also gives them opportunities — putting them in situations similar to what an increased role would require. So, they might be put in charge of a small project in the hopes of learning whether they can handle larger ones.

Both Baumstein and Fox stressed the importance of watching, listening and collecting information before you make a crucial decisions about whether to hire or promote someone, because like so many CEOs have said, “You are nothing without your people.”