The One Talent Every Effective Leader Has Mastered – Part 1

 

Because having the right people on your team is the greatest determinant of a leader’s success, the talent to recruit and develop talent is the rarest and greatest talent of all.

 

Robert Half, considered by many to be the father of the staffing industry, was famous for often quoting, “Talent is rare.  Rarer still is the talent to identify talent.”  I’d like to amend his quote and add: …”And the rarest talent of all is the talent to recruit and develop talent.”

This is the first of a multi-part series.  In Part 1 we’ll explore the critical need for hiring managers – not others – to recruit and identify the talent they hire on staff. 

Disclaimer: One of the benefits of having worked over parts of six decades is that you get to work for some brilliant people who teach you crucial skills and life lessons. It also means that you get to make thousands of mistakes – and hopefully learn to learn from each one! Armed with a newly minted college degree I began my career in 1976 as a retail manager trainee and have been in training ever since…

“This is Great!  Now I Can Really Get Some Stuff Done.”

Lancaster, PA October 26, 1976.  I was surprised to see my boss early Tuesday morning, especially when the person behind him dressed in a suit had such a serious look on his face.  “Hank, meet Steve… Steve meet Hank.  Steve is your new manager trainee.”  “This is great,” I thought, “I’ve been so busy and now with Steve I can really get some stuff done.”  At the time I had one part-time employee who worked evenings. I had big plans for my first store, albeit the lowest volume one in the district, and realized I couldn’t work every hour it was open for business.  In those days we were open for business 66 hours per week, plus prep and clean-up time.  Getting a full-time employee to help was fantastic! 

One problem.  It took me less than two months to realize that despite Steve being eager to learn, he lacked the discipline and drive to make it to manager. Steve realized it himself and questioned if he was right for the job.  As much as I don’t want to have to work every hour we were open, it would be worse to convince Steve to stay, so he quit.  Then my part-timer decided to move out of the area… Crap!

Lesson: Don’t try convincing someone who is not a right fit for a job to stay.  They’ll be miserable and so will you.  Best to make sure people you hire are right for the job before you hire them.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I like to work, but almost 70 hours per week, week-in and week-out was no fun. My boss wasn’t bringing people to me, and I wasn’t thrilled with people walking in off the street to fill out an application (the local unemployment office was in the same shopping center where our store was located). 

There was this one regular customer, a local college student, who was had a high energy level, seemed like an optimist, and he know a lot about what we sold.  So I recruited John, who from the start was good with customers and hustled

Lesson: View everyone with whom you come in contact during your day-to-day job as a potential recruit.  Recruit the ones who have good soft skills, high energy, and desirable qualities.

After a month of seeing John’s work ethic I asked him who he thought would make a good person to work part-time with us.  “That’d be Karl.  He’s a good guy I’ve known for a few years.”  That’s how Karl joined the team, another good work ethic and high character person.  And then Anita was referred by Karl.  She had a 1,000 megawatt smile and was fantastic with customers.

Lesson: Ask your good employees who they know that would be someone they recommend for a job.  Good people tend to hang out with good people, and won’t refer people who will reflect poorly on them.

Karl, Anita, John and I made a great team and we did really well together.  A few months later I got promoted 50 miles away to our store in Harrisburg, PA.   When I asked my boss why he made the decision, he told me, “You have a good eye for people and you recruit your own. Not many of my managers will do that.  I can’t afford to keep you in a smaller store. I need you where you can do more.”

Lesson: Whenever a manager takes responsibility to recruit people for his or her staff, pretty soon the boss will recognize this high-value trait, which leads to career advancement.     

Why Wouldn’t You Want to Staff With Your Own Recruits?

Let me ask you a question: who has the greatest at stake for how the people on your staff work out, the Human Resources Department or you, the manager?

Do you really need to think about the answer?

Don’t get me wrong…I think the world of human resources people. In fact, they may be as a group the most underappreciated people in your organization. Much of what I’ve learned during my career (and am still learning) has come from HR professionals who were peers and mentors.

Great ones can help lift your organization to the next level by helping you to attract, engage, develop, and retain talented people.

Yet you are judged on the results of the team you lead, not HR. And your team goes no further than the people on the team take it. That’s why hiring the right people is perhaps the most important responsibility of every manager at any level.

I’m also not suggesting that you tell HR to stop their recruiting efforts on your behalf.

I am suggesting that you take a significantly more active part in recruiting your own people and add to HR’s efforts to get the right people on your team.

Bottom Line

In the next part of this series I’ll share some of the non-conventional recruiting strategies that I’ve used to recruit some pretty terrific talent. Until then, remember these key lessons you can begin applying right away:

1. Don’t try convincing someone who is not a right fit for a job to stay in the job. They’ll be miserable and so will you. Best to make sure people you hire are right for the job before you hire them.

2. View everyone with whom you come in contact during your day-to-day job as a potential recruit. Recruit the ones who have good soft skills, high energy, and desirable qualities.

3. Ask your good employees who they know that would be someone they recommend for a job. Good people tend to hang out with good people, and won’t refer people who will reflect poorly on them.

4. Whenever a manager takes responsibility to recruit people for his or her staff, pretty soon the boss will recognize this high-value trait, which leads to career advancement.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

I work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982.

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