The economy is doing great. Most of the countries have record low unemployment rates. Companies fight over the best and the brightest. As I described in How To Win The War For Talent, there is only one way to win this war, and that is refusing to fight it.
But what if you genuinely can’t find the ideal candidates for specific positions? What if you have your positions opened for months or even years? You have work that is not being done because of this unfulfilled need. You have an artificial limit on the speed of your growth because you don’t have the right people. And you believe and even hear from many other leaders that there is a shortage of talent. Or is there?
What do you expect from candidates
It was said many times before, but hiring managers still don’t listen. There is no such thing as an ideal candidate. Stop waiting for them! I have talked about it before, Hire For Strengths, Not Lack Of Weaknesses. Identify what are the absolute must-haves and be comfortable with the fact that everyone has some weaknesses. That is what makes us human.
Do your best to remove bias from the recruitment process. This one is, in reality, more difficult than it seems. Too often are hiring managers refusing even to speak to candidates because of their preconceived notions on how an ideal candidate looks like and anything that doesn’t fit that picture is being ignored. And too often many great people are overlooked just because they are different. If you don’t know where to start, I have talked about some of the most common biases in Why Leaders Should Hire Their Opposites.
Put a disproportionate focus on attitude. Functional skills are important but focusing mostly on them will cause two things. You will limit yourself to a short list of experts in the field who may or may not be easy to find. When hired there is no certainty that these people will actually help you get the organization to the next level.
When you focus on attitude first, you can hire people who are positive, gritty, want to learn and willing to give it the effort. The biggest technical expert will be pretty useless if they are not willing to put in the effort or if they don’t care. If they don’t care, don’t waste your time.
In Become Gritty To Succeed In Life, I talked about the attitude that helps people to succeed at anything they do. This is the sort of people you want. And there are tons of them out there. Definitely many more than the select number of experts you are seeking.
Effort And Attitude Beats Talent And Knowledge and if you hired for attitude you have a lot of smart, talented people on board so why not to give them a chance to learn something new and shine?
Of course, you need to build robust skill development programs. The effort is worth it. Not only you can grow the required skills from within, but you will also help quite a bit with keeping your employees engaged and happy with the company. One of the most sought-after benefit by most employees, especially those that care, is personal and professional development.
If you do have the necessary learning and development tools in place, then all it takes is to have a good process to help people understand what are all the opportunities at the company and open their eyes to the fact that their view of a career is often too narrow.
Underutilized career moves
Robert N. Llewellyn proposes the following career model. This model is based on four concepts and the motivations behind them:
- Linear – Power, and achievement (For someone motivated by this concept a success comes from moving up the corporate ladder.)
- Expert – Expertise and security (For someone motivated by this concept a success comes from being recognized amongst their peers for their expertise)
- Spiral – Growth and creativity (Here the success comes from being able to move from one position to a related but broader position)
- Roamer – Variety and independence (In this concept success comes from being able to change jobs often and provide the skills to a wide variety of businesses)
When comparing people on your team to this model, you can see that they fit into different categories. Let’s talk about those who don’t expect the linear movement or who don’t desire to become experts. Let’s talk about those who expect growth, independence and like variety and creativity.
The standard career moves can look like these:
- Vertical move (you are climbing the corporate ladder),
- Job enrichment (broadening the skills in your selected field)
- Temporary assignment (testing the ground)
- Reassignment (moving to a new organization doing the same work)
- Lateral move (broadening skills at the same level in a new field)
- Job realignment (starting from scratch in a new career)
Now consider what happens if you give the right opportunity to those motivated by spiral or roamer concept from Llewellyn’s model. The lateral move and the job realignment starts to be really interesting and motivating to these employees.
And now consider whether these two moves ever came up in the conversation? I would bet that like most managers you focus on vertical move and job enrichment almost exclusively. And since not everyone is motivated by these opportunities, you are at lost on how to keep these people engaged and growing.
Give gritty and enthusiastic learners a chance
If you are looking for a new SEO expert, why not to give a chance to a technical support manager who gets excited about marketing? If you are looking for a new sales representative, why not offer it to a chatty software developer with great get-things-done attitude?
These people know the company, and you know them. If you feel they have the right attitude and company fit why to lose them to competition when you can give them a chance at a new career for years to come? Yes, you will have to spend some time training them, but as long as they are smart, enthusiastic and gritty, you don’t run much risk.
Just make sure you have a candid conversation about what they are missing from the skillset required by the new role. These employees need to understand what to learn and what level of skill is expected in a specific timeframe.
Answering the question
To answer the question from the title of the article. Why recruit from within your organization? Because it is often easier for specific roles challenging to find on the job market. It is less risky since you already know the attitude and capability of the people. It allows cross-pollination between departments and business units leading to better cooperation and team spirit. It shows you care. And most importantly, it decreases attrition since it is motivating for the employees who are getting a chance on an exciting career move.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe it is a smart move to give people a chance with lateral moves? Or do you believe that it is more efficient and productive to hire experts from outside? What is the practice in your company?
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