Unleashing talent as a competitive weapon

Aimee Griffin on April 21, 2016 2:42:00 PM EDT


Whether you’re still focusing on traditional “time-to-hire” or agonizing over what an unfilled position is costing your company, you know that when it comes to recruiting and hiring, time is of the essence. This already high pressure situation is exacerbated even further by factors such as needing candidates with highly specialized or rare skillsets, organizational hypergrowth and employee turnover. With all of this in mind, it can be difficult to find and and entice those “superstar” candidates that you’ve been looking for.

Organizational advisory firm Korn Ferry has been analyzing talent and HR processes for decades. Their CMO, Mike Distefano, provided our audience at Destination Talent 2015 with statistics around just one major insight that Korn Ferry has gleaned over the years: the importance of a rigorous, non-transactional recruiting process. A candidate’s prior experience is certainly an important part of whether or not they are qualified for a job, but ultimately what is going to make them successful are their soft skills. Distefano encourages people to hire for cultural fit and their potential to grow. Finding superstar candidates is less about all of the experience you see on a resume, and more about the diligence you demonstrate during your interview and hiring processes.

What makes an employee a superstar?

90% of us believe that we are within the top 10% of our organization, but the reality is that only 29% of people who are deemed high performers are also high potential, meaning that just because someone is currently successful at their job doesn’t mean they will be successful at what they do in the future. Top performers can produce as much as ten times what the average employee produces while often requiring less than two times the amount of pay. Superstars produce up to twelve times as much as the average worker. It’s harder to attract these types of workers though, because they have options: 47% of top performers are currently looking for a new position as opposed to 25% of average performers and 18% of low performers.

How do you attract superstars?

Everyone is trying to get a hold of top performing and superstar candidates, so what makes the companies who are able to hire them different? Distefano lists the following as traits of top organizations who are able to attract the best talent:

  • Have a leadership and talent strategy aligned to organization goals.

  • Selection and onboarding is rigorous and constant

  • They plan for culture with people with the right behaviors and skills.

  • Robust talent reviews that are honest, facilitated, calibrated, transparent, and use strong performance expectations.

  • Accelerated development through experiential, relationship, and traditional processes

  • Deep and robust pipeline for succession management.

  • Define, identify, calibrate, and develop high-potential and critical talent

  • Utilize metrics for engagement, differentiated compensation, and rewards

A focus on recruiting and onboarding as well as future employee evaluation and development are key to keeping top performers incentivized and engaged going forward.

Planning for the future

It’s not easy to know from an interview if a candidate is going to be the best fit for your organization, or if they are going to be one of those top performers that really galvanize your workforce.  Distefano stresses that there are a couple of  important things to keep in mind when evaluating a candidate: competencies, experiences, traits, and drivers. Candidates are ultimately hired for “what they do,” i.e. their competencies and experiences, but what makes or breaks you in a position are the things that make up “who you are,” your traits and drivers. Is the ideal employee at your company driven by power, or by the need for new challenges? Are they set in their ways and adverse to change, or are they agile and open to taking risks? Companies with highly agile executives have 25% higher profit margins than those of their peer group, so agility is definitely something to consider when hiring.

The more you refine your recruiting and hiring efforts and the more energy you put into evaluating a candidate’s cultural fit and potential for growth, the more successful you will find yourself in getting the talented employees you desire.

To learn more about positioning your organization for success through the talent you hire, click here to watch a video of Mike Distefano speaking at RecruitiFi’s 2015 Destination Talent event.

Want to attend DT for yourself? Apply today for our events in San Francisco and New York City.

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