Every championship team runs on player talent, both individual and collective. What are you doing to acquire the talent your team needs to play in the big leagues—and win?
Talent acquisition should be as much a pull strategy as a push one. Even if you’re not actively recruiting new people for the team, what you and your organization do every day will influence the level of talent you’re able to attract and retain.
Here are 5 strategies for making sure your team is a magnet for top talent:
- Play to strengths: This seems obvious, but misalignment abounds in the workplace, often in small-scale ways that add up to major engagement and productivity issues. We know from our research that people gravitate towards occupations that allow them to exercise their preferred modes of thinking. This is the work that stimulates them—work they would choose not because it’s easiest (it’s often the most challenging), but because tackling it is inherently satisfying.
The opportunity to perform stimulating work is a major ingredient of motivation, since motivation always comes from within a person. Smart managers make sure team members are assigned to work that stimulates them because it pulls them into performing at their highest level. This is an attractive proposition for all involved; when the person’s thinking preferences align with the job’s mental requirements, everybody wins.
- Go for substance, not just style: Along with the growing population of Millennial employees in the workplace, a massive amount of research on this group has accumulated (has any other employee demographic ever received so much scrutiny and analysis?). Out of all those studies, there’s clear consensus: Millennials want businesses to focus on people and purpose, not just profits.
Awards and recognition can be great employer brand-builders. Even better are those that demonstrate the organization’s commitment to building and nurturing great teams and connecting to purpose. Two standout examples we’ve seen recently: ConAgra Foods’ award-winning Diversity of Thought initiative and the groundbreaking Parkland Project, a multi-award-winning, $700 million healthcare facility developed by a coalition of diverse companies formed by Balfour Beatty Construction.
- Go diverse by design: With the complexity of work today, the collective intelligence we can get from teams, especially cross-functional ones, is hugely valuable. In a sense, talent acquisition is happening all the time inside the organization because we need to regularly identify and bring together the right internal talent to handle particular challenges or projects as they arise.
So what should you look for? For complex projects, go diverse by design. Our research has shown that diverse teams with a balance of thinking preferences outperform homogenous teams. But diversity alone isn’t enough. To get the benefits and avoid unproductive conflict, make sure team members have the knowledge, tools and leadership to communicate effectively, recognize the business value of different thinking preferences and apply the full diversity of thought.
- Allow people to stretch (but not snap!): A host of recent studies has shown that talented people value the opportunity to continually develop and grow, and they look for organizations and leaders that will give them that opportunity. You can stand apart from the crowd with a talent acquisition strategy that focuses not just on training, mentoring and coaching but also on helping people develop the thinking agility they need to successfully grow in their careers.
People need to understand how their thinking preferences and mental blind spots come into play as they pursue their development goals. Those who are developing them have to recognize the energy and self-motivation the process will take—especially if the path will require the person to really stretch—and provide them with the coaching and tools to manage it. Just as important: manage expectations. The key word here is “stretch,” not “snap.” If it’s not deliberately planned for, too much mental misalignment can backfire.
- Use your head to build your talent pipeline: What might you be overlooking? One of the best ways to make sure you haven’t missed any key areas as you think about talent acquisition is to look at the issue from all thinking perspectives. “Walk around” the four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model as you build your strategy:
A) Purpose: How does your talent acquisition strategy align with the business’s goals and needs? What can you learn from past trends and available data? What will you measure?
B) Process: What do you need to do to stay on track to achieve your plans and goals? How will you manage risk?
C) People: Consider the needs of the talent you want to attract, win and keep: what do they care about, want and need?
D) Possibilities: What will the future look like? What can you do to attract talent that will keep you ahead of the curve? How can you get creative to stand out?
With the employment marketplace becoming more and more competitive, highly talented people have more options than ever, and they know it. The Millennial generation, in particular, has “one foot out the door.” Now is the time to step up your talent acquisition game.