Hiring, Developing & Retaining A-Players

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Hiring, Developing & Retaining A-Players

Hiring, Developing & Retaining A-Players

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a large group of leaders at the Virginia Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging (VANHA) retreat in Williamsburg.

My colleague David Brown, President of Cornerstone Advisors, joined me in providing insight to The Hidden Costs of Turnover and Recruiting and Retaining A-Players. A part of our presentation included David interviewing me for the purpose of sharing my thoughts and experience in helping organizations become intentional about hiring, developing and retaining A-players.

I wanted to share an excerpt from that interview:

Dave: Jan, you have been in the Human Resources and Organizational Development field for over 28 years. Can you tell us about what you have learned about attracting, developing and retaining top talent in the workplace?

Jan: Many leaders have the desire to get the best talent and keep the best talent; however organizations that are successful at it have an intentional and strategic talent attraction, development and retention plan. They have a clear philosophy about talent in general. They anticipate havingthe very best on their team and work hard and smart to obtain top talent.

In other words, leaders in the organization ask:

Do we truly want A-players (superstars)?

Are we willing to develop our B-players (competent steady performers with potential)?

Are we willing to share our C-players with our competition (individuals who we indeed hired and perhaps we missed something in the hiring process)?

Some organizations call this Topgrading. Brad Smart wrote a book entitled Topgrading and many organizations have jumped on the bandwagon of being rigorous about finding the top 10% of the available talent pool, assessing current talent, and developing and retaining top performers.

Dave: How important is culture fit in an organization in finding A and B-players?

Jan: It is critical for the organization to understand the knowledge, skills and experience that is needed and equally important to be clear about what type of culture fit is necessary to be successful. Culture fit is found in exploring attitudes, values, and what type of environment candidates thrive in.

For example: Who has been your best boss and why? How do you handle conflict? Do you like working alone or on team, etc.? Employers and candidates areboth asking the same two questions: Can I do this job? Can I do it here?

Dave: What about developing your staff? Doesn’t that take a lot of time, energy, effort and money?

Jan: I think understanding and being very clear that each person that comes through the doors of your workplace brings with them strengths and growing edges. Even A-players have room for improvement. In other words, if you gain a clear, balanced perspective in the interview of the total picture of the individual, you then ask a question, what gaps am I willing to manage?

If you ask yourself that question you will be prepared rather than disappointed when growing edges begin to emerge. You can discover this in the interview process by asking behavior based questions and supplement your interviews with assessments. You then create a development dashboard from day-one. In other words, as leaders, plan ahead to help people develop and win.

Dave: How do organizations begin to understand whether or not someone is an A, B or C-player?

Jan: To realize the highest return on human capital, an organization must teach managers to recognize A, B and C-players. It starts with the interview process.

We are working with a client re-designing the interview process. Managers were having conversations with applicants rather than asking competency based questions that directly correlate with what the organization needs the job and the incumbent to do. The next step is to integrate the job specific competencies into the performance review process. After that, our client will undergo a mid-year talent assessment to get a glimpse of the overall bench strength.

Dave: We know that retention is an important part of developing great places to work. What would you say is key in terms of retaining good people?

Jan: Beyond competitive salaries and benefits, especially for those front-line employees providing care or services to clients and residents in the continuous care retirement communities, I would say; do not ignore your employees, whether they are A, B or C-players.

Often times we can ignore A-players because they are self-sufficient, we can ignore B-players because they are steady, and at our own peril we ignore our C-players. The fact of the matter is that A and B-players will not stay engaged if we allow C-players to remain in our midst. A and B- players are looking to leaders to ensure C-players are transitioned.

Dave: Why do some organizations deal effectively with C-players and others do not?

Jan: Leadership. Those organizations who effectively remove C-players are trained and developed to do so. Many individuals have the fear of confrontation and litigation.

Those organizations who have a comprehensive approach to finding A and B-players and retaining them understand that it all begins in the hiring phase. Better to have a rigorous hiring process and find the right talent the first time around.

Dave: It is a best practice for organizations to conduct exit interviews when employees leave organizations. What are your thoughts about exit interviews as a part of learning more about why organizations have turnover?

Jan: I would rather see organizations have stay interviews. This is a more proactive approach to determining engagement levels before your top performers think about moving on.

Dave: Is there anything else you can share about recruiting and retaining top talent?

Jan: Stay with your talent strategy efforts. Once you have defined your philosophy and your strategy around talent, do not let up. Do not let your talent strategy become the strategy of the day. Keep at it and you will see your efforts paying big dividends.

We welcome you to visit our website at www.FortisLeadership.com to review our solutions for creating a happier, healthier workplace that focuses on developing and retaining talent.