“Businesses want to stay out of the red.” That’s not exactly the most controversial statement ever made. The reality, though, is that some businesses are in the red, losing money… losing market share… losing.
On an ever more competitive business landscape, teams and organizations that want to move from the red to winning ways have to effectively recruit and retain the Best Talent. It stands to reason, doesn’t it? No five-star chef seeks out mediocre ingredients. Similarly, no organization creates sustained greatness on a foundation of mediocre talent. The quest is to recruit and retain the best and brightest, to build on a foundation of Best Talent.
Research consistently shows that diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams over time. (https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter) If your goal is to innovate, to illuminate blind spots where opportunities lie and pitfalls lurk, securing Best Talent, by definition, includes attracting and advancing diverse talent.
“If you always do what you always did,
you’ll always get what you always got.”
For too many organizations, “what you always did” to acquire talent has you firmly in the RED:
Isaias Zamarripa, (VP of Diversity Talent Acquisition Practice, The Kaleidoscope Group), coined this acronym after recognizing an unmistakable patterns of behaviors and beliefs over his years of helping companies of all shapes and sizes struggle to create and maintain workforce diversity.
- Reactive: Whether driven by the recognition of suboptimal outcomes or, worse, as a response to outside pressures, legal or otherwise, operating from a reactive place severely diminishes the odds of securing Best Talent. Further, even if diverse talent is brought into the organization, it is imperative that an inclusive culture is developed. In an inclusive culture diverse talent thrives. When there is not an inclusive culture, the “reaction” to new talent can be as violent as an “organ rejection,” with talent fleeing to find organizations where they feel welcomed and valued. Changes in the culture, if they happen at all, are a day late and a dollar short.
- Expensive: About that “dollar short”… companies that operate from the “RED” compound their negative business outcomes by pulling more dollars from a diminished bottom line. The old axiom is: “Good, fast, cheap… You can have two. But you can’t have all three.” Well, if you want Best Talent (good) and you have to have it now (fast), guess what that means? It means using outside agencies. It means paying headhunters. It means longer time to fill. What does it mean to seek “fast” and good?” (Hint: It rhymes with “expensive.”)
- Desperate: Work is piling up… There’s a hole in the team… Everyone is stressed from picking up the slack… This is not a time when anyone is going to be particularly interested in conducting an exhaustive talent search. Further, even if they were interested, where would they find the time? No, this is when you “do what you always did,” when you scan resumes for the same old colleges, when you conduct interviews with same old unconscious biases, when you “hire like me” and choose a candidate who meets the minimum requirements rather than a candidate who brings experience and knowledge that might truly elevate the level of performance. You get “what you always got.”
Life “in the RED” leads to businesses in the red, a series of unexpected departures and disappointing outcomes that lead to competitive disadvantage and, in the worst cases, locked doors and shuttered windows.
Pretty bleak, huh?
Luckily, it’s time for you to have a little FUN.
As Zamarripa explains, “In today’s marketplace, if we’re not intentional about bringing in diversity, we’re not going to be successful. And successful organizations focus on FUN.”
- Forecast: It’s imperative that organizations anticipate staffing needs, whether driven by seasonal demands, employee departures or individuals advancing within the organization. “The best time to fill a position is before its open,” Zamarripa advises. In short, looking at historical hiring data, stakeholders in the hiring process can anticipate where needs will exist and get ahead of the demand. First, looking forward forces those who are a part of the hiring process to assess the current state of the workforce, strengths and needs. Second, and perhaps more importantly, a proactive approach to finding Best Talent allows for the development of a thoughtful process that drives conscious choice – “An accounting background might come in handy in this role.” – over unconscious bias – “He seems great.” (Fun fact: Research shows that for all our political debate and angst, people generally choose the taller candidate. Yes, you read that right.)
- Understand: Understand the role. Understand the workforce. Understand the (expanded) talent pool. Understand the current hiring process. Understand what you want to improve, whether through internal review, studying other organizations, engaging external support or a combination of the three. Obviously, this depth of knowledge is not developed optimally when your hair is, metaphorically, on fire. (It’s also hard to develop that depth of knowledge when your hair is, literally, on fire. But that probably goes without saying.)
- Network: Casting a wider net is a critical element of any plan to find and hire Best Talent. Extending the analogy, you will want to identify and leverage individuals familiar with the lakes and rivers where you’ve yet to fish, whether those might be schools with which you are not familiar or communities you’ve yet to engage. They’ll have a sense of what lures to use (e.g. work/life balance vs. salary/benefits) and when you want to cast your net. Beyond that analogy, expanding your network will allow you to establish a presence in new places, developing the kinds of relationships that will transform your organization from a suspicious outsider to a trusted employer of choice.
Many organizations say they want the best people, the brightest, the most talented. However, the organizations that actually create and maintain the most powerful workforces, winning organizations, don’t leave the process to chance. Winning organizations are proactive about finding Best Talent, while their competition is reactive. Winning organizations cast wider and wider nets, while their competition drops the same line in the same pond, year after underperforming year. Want to have a winning organization? It’s time for you to have FUN… and leave your competition seeing RED.
The Kaleidoscope Group