I’ve read the books, watched the speeches, even given them myself….talent is everything. A talented, gifted, skilled individual who’s self-motivated, always learning, always questioning, going the extra mile, coming early, staying late, contributing to the team in every way possible is always preferred….right? Did I mention they also fit nicely into the salary range and are an aspiring leader? They also live close by or travel as needed. They never leave old food in the refrigerator, and as a matter of fact, they bring cupcakes. They play shortstop on company team and are poster children for your company culture.
We’re all fortunate to have been blessed with these types of A players on our teams. Every Manager, Recruiter, Author and Blogger will tell you to hire them, develop them and take care of them and we all know this makes sense.
Here’s the challenge…an A Player, considering there’s only grades of A-F, represent only 20% of the workforce. There’s not enough to go around. Take a look at the bell curve pictured above. Everyone wants to hire from the far right side. But who’s to say those top performers want to talk to you? Many of their managers have read the retention books and/or are instinctively good at nurturing top performers. Some others might just be darn satisfied doing what they’re doing. Some can’t relocate. Some we can’t afford. Some we nudge at just the right time and they’re ready to move on…but they have many options.
What’s more valuable….an A player trying to fit in or a B player who’s developing on your watch? Is a C player a C player or a victim of circumstance? This is not black and white. Recruiting is not a digital exercise…it’s infinitely variable. Practice does not make perfect, but it gets you better.
If you only interview a person now and then or only react to applicants to your posted jobs, how do you know where they are on the curve? If the curve represents qualified people, how do you know if these applicants are even in the right pool? The only way to know for sure is to interview all 100 people on the list. Who’s got time to do that?
Continuous evaluation of the entire marketplace is the only answer, but that’s not realistic. Putting together a plan to get your vision, strategy and cultural hook to the target market on a continuous basis is the best way to get the word out. Making sure those rare, few top performers who are open to hearing about new adventures ACTUALLY HEAR about them is really the only way to insure you’ll have a shot at your share of them. And especially, don’t forget the B’s and C’s that are ready to launch. They need to hear it too.
Finding A players is vital for key roles, but recognizing potential talent can be a game changer too. The stuff that matters most is not all on the resume….it takes some diving.