Leadership Blind Spot: Talent

Leadership Blind Spot: Talent

While most senior management agrees that talent is a key ingredient to success company leaders have significant blind spot as to the transformation that has happened over the past 10 years.

The entire talent management continuum has changed for planning, acquiring, cultivating and retaining talent. However the key pivot point has always been, and will continue to be, acquisition (recruiting).

Recruiting key talent has three hurdles that hiring managers, and leaders, tend to turn a blind eye to: 1) Job descriptions are inaccurate representations of the actual skills required to be successful; 2) a preference for people to fill positions at 100% fit and 3) focusing too heavily on hard skills and overlooking soft skills.

Closer examination of these issues brings us to the following conclusions:

Job Descriptions: Are relied on by technology such as applicant tracking systems and other recruiting tools to screen out instead of screen in talent. Titles are confusing and internal verbiage that does not translate to the marketplace creates confusion with potential candidates. Opportunistic hires are suddenly not part of the equation and those tend to be competitive advantages.

Looking for 100% Fit: This creates two issues. First this means the value proposition to work for you is simply trading the job the candidate has at company A for the same at company B. Unless there is a compelling reason to make a horizontal move this is not the way to hire. Second it creates no growth opportunity which will allow short and long-term retention as new hires expand their skill base in their new position the company.

Technical vs. Soft Skills: Technical or hard skills will continue to be a gap in the workforce. Technology and internal processes change radically to meet market demands but skills take longer to catch up. If you focus on talent that has the soft skills, such as dependability, customer centric, agile, willingness to accept change than you can continuously train the hard technical skills. This leads to retention and a longer-term workforce that produces consistent results.

How do we fix these issues? There are companies that have gone above and beyond to insure these are not blind spots. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Disney Cruise Lines, Harrah’s Entertainment and others have focused on hiring for soft skills and train, train and train to insure success and retention.  Their investment in creating on-going pro-active recruitment, not just when an opening exists, and the focus on educating and training when they arrive is exactly what more companies should strive for.

Disney Cruise Lines is in a mix of the entertainment, hotel and restaurant industry. These industries have terrible turnover and little training as they require new hires to fit 100% of the job and toss people in to the mix with few metrics and feedback mechanisms.  DCL does the opposite – the have methodical hiring they invest in – and invest again in on-going training. The metrics they track all point back to a predictable model and yields a better quality of hire and retention which, in turn, gives consistent high quality service to its guests. And their retention rate is the best in its industry.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has a focus on new college graduates for hiring and trains them, well, for success. Their formula puts them ahead of other companies in customer satisfaction (J.D Power Rankings).  Again investment in the upfront targeting of soft skills and training the process is empowering talent to achieve at a higher level.

Harrah’s Entertainment creates unique interviewing styles and environments to get people to demonstrate their inner-self. An impromptu request to sing or dance allows Harrah’s to find people that are inherently comfortable with themselves and personify fun. That is what they want, and find, in their hires.

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