Are you a buyer or a builder of talent?
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of working with business leaders of all stripes to build or restructure their organizations. It doesn’t matter whether the functional area is IT, finance, creative marketing, sales, or the assembly line, there is a basic truism that applies universally:
ORGANIZATIONS SUCCEED WHEN THE TALENT IS OPTIMALLY MATCHED TO THE ROLE AND GIVEN THE TOOLS TO BE SUCCESSFUL.
It may seem like a simple recipe, but even the simplest-sounding recipes can be hard to pull off. It’s useful to break it down further. To be optimally matched, three key things need to align: skill, will, and values.
SKILLS ARE MORE TANGIBLE.
Does the candidate have the skills, knowledge, and abilities to do the work? Can they do the job? Skill is typically the easiest to evaluate so many organizations just stop there. In some cases that could be fine, but generally it is better to go beyond skill fit to achieve the most value for both the individual and the company.
WILL IS LESS TANGIBLE.
Does the candidate have the interest in doing the work? Evaluating “will” gets slightly more complicated. It’s important to find out if the individual not only wants to do the work, but whether he or she wants to do it at that company, with that manager, in that team, at this time in his or her career. Digging a little deeper, asking “why” to those questions to uncover motivation and goals can provide valuable insight.
VALUES ARE THE HARDEST TO CAPTURE AND EVALUATE.
Perhaps most importantly, you want to know if a candidate’s values and that of the company align. If an organization’s top 3 values are innovation, challenging the status quo, and creatively delighting the customer, it is possible that a candidate who particularly values process and collective decision making may find it harder to be successful and feel fulfilled there. It is important to emphasize that it is not because the candidate does not share some of the same values, but rather an organization’s top values are expected to be prioritized above (and sometimes at the expense of) others.
THE MORE INTANGIBLE THE CRITERIA, THE HARDER IT IS TO DEVELOP.
Finding the right fit based on all 3 of these criteria is challenging in normal labor markets, nevermind tight ones. So beyond endlessly searching for the purple squirrel, what can be done? In most cases, “will” and “values” are baked in, and only “skills” can be taught or developed. So maybe leaders should be asking themselves this question:
AM I A BUILDER OR A BUYER?
An organization with a build or “develop” mindset will do a better job at growing and nurturing talent. Those with a buyer mindset will be more inclined to search for that purple squirrel. Both can be effective strategies, but it is important to know your goal before implementing the strategy. Are you prepared to invest in “building” your team, or do you prefer to take the time to “buy” those skills?
Links and other interesting stuff:
Is Your Recruiting Social? Are you “marketing” your company and jobs to talent using social? By 2020, 2.95 billion users globally are expected to be on social media. Reach out if you need help engaging talent on social.
Looking for interns? Join our Teaming for Talent program and connect with students in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
Check out this sweet Career Showcase (a standalone microsite built for candidates to show company's authenticity) that we built for one of our clients.