In today’s ultracompetitive job market, it’s hard to find a good fit. It’s difficult for applicants to find a good job, and it can be equally difficult for companies to find good employees. If both sides are looking for similar qualities, shouldn’t it be easier to find common ground?
“Finding the right candidates can be easy, if a company knows what it’s looking for and how to attract it,” says Deborah Phillips, chief administrative officer of Priority Health. “It’s worth the effort because having quality people in your company will help you secure better financial results. Smart companies know they must find, develop and keep the people who keep them competitive.
“Securing the right human talent is essential. Identifying and developing high performers for future leadership positions as well as developing effective planning methods to ensure that you have strong leaders in the pipeline are key to a company’s future. The best way to sustain continued growth is to increase the number of people in the leadership pipeline who can intelligently look at the business and find ways to accelerate your performance.”
Smart Business spoke to Phillips about strategies to attract and retain the best and brightest.
How do you define ‘high performers’?
High performers are people who are eager to get ahead and who have the skills to move themselves forward. They are committed to meeting or exceeding customer expectations, have a positive attitude, excellent communication skills, and a strong desire to contribute. They have an aptitude for continuous learning, enthusiasm for the organization and their role in the organization, and the ability to transfer knowledge to ensure the success of others. High performers are not happy until the job is done and goals are met. They are solution focused, they accept accountability, and they demonstrate emotional maturity. Finally, they are technically competent. They have exceptional industry or business knowledge, think organizationally, and rapidly bring new skills and information into use. High performers are people you know will be the future of your company.
What are strategies to recruit them?
In most cases, the best candidates are not looking for positions, so to locate these hard-to-find candidates you have to work harder and smarter to find them.
Finding, recruiting and screening candidates can be a very time-consuming process, and it can be expensive if you make a mistake. Utilizing outside recruiting specialists who understand your business, networking with colleagues and encouraging employee referrals are ways companies can effectively find good applicants without wasting valuable time and money. Technology (Web sites, Internet postings, resume searches, blogs, etc.) is also an effective tool.
Companies can also try calling contacts or just cold-calling prospective recruits. If you know what you’re looking for and your reputation is solid, letting people know in a very direct way that you’re interested in them can pay off.
What are strategies to retain them?
If a company wants to keep high performers, it needs to create a culture that attracts the best and brightest. You don’t want your company to be a steppingstone for employees; you want it to be a place where employees want to stay.
Again, smart companies have a succession management and leadership development program in place for their high performers. High performers, or high potentials, demand a development program. Do not develop a list of high potentials if you do not have the resources to develop the program.
What are strategies to develop them?
Stay involved. Develop a clear set of standards and objectives about what it takes to succeed in the organization, and ensure there is a clear connection between what you require of your leaders and how you can win in the marketplace. Define the ‘critical experiences’ required to be a high performer, i.e., what experiences are necessary to prepare the employee for the future role? Plan for outside coaches. If you don’t have the skills internally to develop the individual or don’t have the time, you risk losing the high performer. Create individual development plans. Remember, one size does not fit all! Include critical timelines, action steps, metrics and measures of the program. Teach business acumen. Ensure that your high performers are well grounded in the business.
Finally, make sure you involve the high performer in the development plan. Remember, more than anything else, high performers thrive on challenges. If you keep them stimulated, it’s a win-win: They’re more likely to stay, and your company will continue to benefit from their efforts.
DEBORAH PHILLIPS is the chief administrative officer of Priority Health. Reach her at (616) 464-8135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.