2014: Executive and HR Leadership Focus

A new year. The flip of a few digits on a calendar and somehow that magically allows us to renew ourselves, our goals, and our ambitions (professionally and personally). Some of those goals seem very good and things that everyone should aspire to. But sometimes the object of our focus is just a smaller aspect of a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. Without taking on the bigger issue, the smaller one will continue to be a problem because we didn't get to the root cause.

As a kid, my parents made me work on the lawn every weekend. I'm talking 6-7 years old, and it has continued to this day. One of the things that I hated the most were flower beds. Maybe my disdain for them goes back to looking up one day to see a snake looking back at me from the shrubs, but I hated flower beds. In particular, I hated pulling weeds. It was so easy to just pull the exposed part of the weed and dispose of it, but my parents taught me that the exposed part of the weed wasn't the issue...it was the root that was hidden underground. If I didn't work a little harder to get to the root and pull it out, then the same weed would be back in a few days and I'd be back out there pulling it again the next weekend.

Business owners, executives, and HR leadership have many aspects of the business that they need to evaluate and determine where improvement needs to take place and what will give them the biggest competitive advantage. In a recent Forbes article, written by Edward E. Lawler, III, he states that the most important thing that HR should focus on are "the skills the organization needs to implement its strategy and the plan for recruiting and managing that critical talent." Mr. Lawler goes on to say, "It is important to understand what the organization can do to add the right talent: Whether it is best recruited or best internally developed, and whether it is even possible to develop the right talent in order to implement your business strategy."

I wholeheartedly agree with the need to systematically evaluate where you are and where you could be. That evaluation process can confirm to you that you are doing the best possible job of finding great talent to add to the team, therefore you will need to place more of an emphasis on developing talent internally to accomplish your strategies. Or, you may find that your recruitment efforts have gaps that could be closed, tweaked, or updated that will take you from finding good talent to great talent, thus making the company's strategy attainable by adding new key people to the team. 

The level of talent that you hire CAN BE your competitive advantage in 2014. In speaking with executives and business owners, I will ask about their recruitment efforts and most often the response from them goes like this, "Well, finding great talent is always something we want to do, but it's been an issue for us. We're doing everything our competitors are doing though so there's not much else we can do." With all due respect, that's the worst answer you can give. Do you have different expectations for your products? Do you want them to be exactly like your competition's - no better and no worse? Of course not! You want your product to be better. What about your customer service? Can it be equal to your competitor's? No! You want your people to treat your customers better than the competition. So why do you accept average when it comes to your recruitment efforts? Why aren't you looking for ways to separate yourself from your competitors in that area?

Mr. Lawler has a few ideas:

"Some business leaders think they can live without top talent. Others believe talent management is important, but they do not see it as important as finance or technology. Finally, many executives are unable to see the relationship between talent issues and the business strategy of their organization. Many executives do not have a background in talent management. They are trained in finance or engineering and they see them as the major determinants of organizational performance. The challenge for HR is not just to establish the importance of talent, but it is to link talent management to the business strategy."

What are excellent point. Executives and business owners can't see the importance of talent in their organizations because they have no background in it. Their expertise lies in other areas and they can immediately spot an issue that needs to be addressed because they know what to look for. But when it comes to the recruitment and development of people, often times they just don't understand "the roots." They can see what is sticking up above the ground, but the roots need to dealt with.

2014 could be an incredible year for your company.

Views: 231

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on January 16, 2014 at 7:08pm

Thanks, Doug. As Jessica Lange said in the movie Sweet Dreams: "Well people in hell want ice water - that don't mean they get it." Companies should stop feeling entitled to the best if they're not, and most of them AREN"T- they have nothing a really exceptional person would want. Instead companies should sit down, order a double shot of "reality", and go after the people they CAN realistically get: (http://www.ere.net/2013/02/15/recruiting-supermodels-and-a-tool-to-...




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