It's superstars who make the critical difference in your company's performance. Everyone wants the superstars, and you have to fight for them - both the ones you have and the ones you want. Winning takes a multi-faceted approach that includes building a healthy culture and involves everyone in the organization.

Profile of a Superstar:
The first step in the fight to win superstars is understanding who you are looking for and what they value. How do you recognize a superstar, aside from their exceptional skills?

Superstars almost always have a great job. They are not out there looking, especially if their current organization has a superior culture. They have well-defined expectations that are much higher than other people's, and they will want to know that your company can meet them.

Superstars have a great attitude, not just a "glass half full" perspective; they can hardly contain their drive to make things happen. When asked about their accomplishments or what excites them they are never short of examples. They are passionate about life and work, and they'll want to know that your company has passion about what you do too.

Build a Culture that Wins Superstars:
There isn't a "best" culture where all people will thrive. But there are traits that healthy cultures share. Here are a few:
-A compelling vision that everyone understands
-Shared passion and commitment
-Effective communication
-The ability to embrace change

While these traits are necessary and underlie your culture, ultimately, it's the quality of your people that defines your organization. A company brimming with passionate, engaged superstars will attract others like themselves. That's a slice of heaven, but possible to achieve.

Begin by taking an honest look at your organization:

-How healthy is your culture, really?
-What makes it superior to others?
-Why should superstars choose to leave a great company to work for you?
-What are the strengths of your star performers and how can you leverage them to attract and retain talent?
-How does your recognition/reward system support both company values and superstar characteristics?
-What have you learned from the people who chose to leave your company?

If you can't answer these kinds of questions with confidence, start improving the health of your culture immediately, before beginning the fight for great people. Winning and then losing superstars because you don't meet their expectations will only harm your reputation, not to mention the cost of recruiting, hiring and training a new person. And it's very unlikely that your new person will be a superstar if you're not at least working toward a better culture.

If you have superstars in your organization, and you probably do, involve them in the cultural changes you plan to make. There is no better way to understand what's important to them. Ask for their opinions and suggestions and follow through on as many of them as you can. Keep communication lines open. If you don't have the culture to retain superstars, build it with their input.

Engage Everyone in Recruiting:
Building an extraordinary workforce should not fall to human resources alone. In a healthy company, everyone should take responsibility for recruiting new talent, starting with the CEO.

CEOs need to understand that if you can't recruit and retain superstars in today's competitive marketplace, your organization is at risk. There is nothing more strategic than winning the fight for top talent. An authentic, visible CEO is one of the main attractions of any company. CEOs should be personally involved in recruiting their teams and one or two levels below them. And they should make executive visibility part of their retention strategy.

A second strategy is involving your superstars in attracting other superstars, especially in their own disciplines. Make sure it's your best people, and those most passionate about the company, who interview top candidates. Their enthusiasm is contagious and persuasive.

Moving through the company, involve managers in ongoing recruitment with these strategies:

-Ask them to collect cards from all the impressive people they meet and pass them on to HR or appropriate department heads.
-Have them identify the best people in their fields and build relationships with them through e-mail, newsletters, conferences etc.
-Consider giving them the freedom to expedite or make instant hires when they find superstars.
-Measure and reward them for attracting and retaining top talent.

Employees at every level become engaged in recruiting when they are proud of their organization and feel supported and valued by the culture. Add to that a cash reward or other incentive to recruit superstars, and employees will keep watch for talented people who will help ensure the continued health and success of the company.

The Net:
Whether you realize it or not, you are competing for the superstars you already have - right along with your fight for new ones. Recruiting and retention are inseparable. The same compelling reasons that attract superstars to your company will cause them to stay with you. To win and keep the A players, you need to build a healthy culture and engage the entire company in recruiting new talent. The market is only getting tighter. Best to start now.

Views: 64

Comment by Navnath Bhukan on April 3, 2009 at 3:01pm
Hi Kathleen,

this is the one of best posts i have read.

Comment by Kathleen Quinn Votaw on April 3, 2009 at 3:16pm
Rayanne - I agree with your viewpoint - not a surprise:)


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