Do You Have the Courage to Be Great?

Do you have the courage to be great?It’s easy to look at Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” or the “100 Best Companies to Work for” list and think, “That’s what I want to build.”

Why wouldn’t you? Can you imagine the talent trying to work for those organizations anytime there is a vacancy? I’m sure it is a who’s who list of the best and the brightest.

However, I’m not sure most leaders have the courage to do what it takes to build and maintain the organizational health necessary to make these lists. Our organization has worked with hundreds of business leaders around the world. One thing is consistent across different continents and cultures: true courage is rare.

In some ways, this seems obvious. It is, of course why we admire the companies on that list so much. Those organizations are not common. Where we often fail to make the connection is in the implications about the leadership of those organizations. The leadership being practiced in those organizations is uncommon too – by definition. If they were common, we would not celebrate them.

So what is the secret? In my 20 years of experience, I’ve determined it comes down to one thing: courage. The organizations’ leaders must have the courage to stand by the values and behaviors they claim to want in the organization, the courage to be held accountable and to hold others accountable, and the courage to remove those from the organization not willing to model and support those values and behaviors – NO EXCEPTIONS. There can be no individual so important to the organization he or she is above the organizations’ values

If it sounds strong, it is. If it sounds difficult, it is. If it sounds uncommon, it is.

That’s why we celebrate the best places to work.

How have you seen this play out in organizations you’ve been a part of?

Recruiting – It’s Not Rocket Science, But It’s Close

Whether you have been a hiring manager or job candidate, everyone has a recruiting war story.  As a hiring manager, you are searching for the elusive dream candidate.  As a candidate, you feel like you are being strung along by one company after another.  It can often feel like the recruiter, whether internal or external, is simply throwing mud against the wall so they can get the job requisition closed and move on.

Why is it that most organizations seem to struggle to attract the kind of talent they want?  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are 4 things to start doing now to improve your ability to make the right match.

First, know your brand.  Brand is not only client facing, but you also have a brand as an employer.  Begin by trying to determine your existing employer brand.  Then define what you would like it be in a way that reinforces the values and culture of the organization.  When going through this exercise, it is important that you look honestly at the values and culture of the organization in practice.  If there is a gap between what really goes on and what the organization claims to hold as its values and culture, then the organization’s leadership must own it and begin to fix it.  If they refuse to confront reality, odds are you’re employer brand has become toxic in the marketplace.  You might get applicants, but they will either leave once they realize they were sold a lie or even worse, they will stay because no one else will hire them. People want to feel good about their employer and its brand.  If there is a disconnect here, you’ll only attract the people everyone else rejected.

Once the brand is established, the next component is taking your mind off the job and defining the ideal candidate based upon people who have succeeded in the role.  I know this sounds very simple, but I can’t tell you how much time people spend on defining the job rather than the person they want to fill it.  If the position is important enough to fill, it’s worth spending time with a team of 2-3 key stakeholders to think about the most successful people you’ve had in that role and list out the qualities that you believe made those folks successful.  Again, it seems like a simple exercise, but most folks fail to do it.

Finally, be sure you have a defined screening and interviewing process.  Most managers dread the interview process.  It can be time consuming, and they have a department to keep running.  However, this is another situation where some time invested on the front end will save many hours on the back end.  Work with the internal HR group or an HR consultant to make sure you have a defined success plan for recruiting.  This is no different than the planning done for the sales team, product development, or operations.  The plan should have a process for pre-screening applicants, the stages of your interview process, interview questions, and assessments that look deeply at the candidates core values, ability to solve problems, coachability, and personality to help you make sure you are getting the right match.  I cannot undersell the value of good assessment tools.  It is really the things good assessments will show you that will reveal whether or not a candidate will be a good fit.

Sounds great, right? Who has time to do all that?  Besides, it is usually outside the hiring manager’s realm of expertise.  That’s OK.  That’s what your HR team should be doing for you.  This is where a good recruiter can save you time and ultimately money.  If you think recruiters are expensive, what is the cost of the loss of productivity while the manager is playing the role of recruiter?  Worse yet, what is the cost of a hiring the wrong person?  If you are having rapid growth or have a seasonal business, you may want to look at putting a recruiting specialist on staff.  Otherwise, outsource it.  If you’ve “tried recruiters” before and had a bad experience, you didn’t have the right one.

While recruiting is not easy, it’s not rocket science either.  By managing your brand, defining the ideal candidate, define the recruiting process, and leveraging either internal or external HR resources, you can greatly improve your mission success rate.  After all, each new hire is like a mini-merger, and as with all relationships, they are much easier to get into than out of.