…So this evening I read a great piece from Kris Dunn here wherein he highlights that (generally speaking) exceptional talent chooses to work at exceptional companies with exceptional leaders. Dunn goes on to say that for these reasons, organizations aspiring to hire the best people in the world should spend more time focusing on becoming the sort of company (and developing the sort of leaders) that people want to work for as opposed to trying to recruit that talent without the accompanying reputation/employer brand. From the post:
Dream of 10x (employees) if you will. But I wouldn’t hold out hope that one will come to work for you. You can’t hire them for the same reasons you can’t coach the Chicago Bulls and you aren’t often called upon to date supermodels of your preferred gender. They’re not interviewing at your crappy company for your crappy job. They’re not going to come and rescue your website; they’re not going to make you an app that puts mustaches on photos; they’re not going to listen to you when you offer them the chance to build the next Facebook, because, if they exist, they are busy building the real Facebook.
Taking this quote to its practical conclusion… if an organization wants to become a place that attracts world class talent and develops world class leaders how does it get there?
…I think that the most straight forward answer is taking high potential talent and giving them the sorts of stretch roles that they can’t get anywhere else. Because if your company doesn’t have a world class employer brand, by the time someone becomes a world class talent they aren’t going to be interested in your business anymore if all you’re offering is lateral or incremental opportunities. That means that to attract (and retain) top talent that an organization has to be willing to give high potential talent big jobs and opportunities that make joining their firm an irresistible value proposition.
Of course, the above is easier said than done. On the organizational front this means seeding management pipelines with progressive leaders that are willing to take big risks on talented but unproven people, while also making the significant investments in their development required to position them to ultimately succeed in stretch roles. And on the HR front it means filling open positions by sourcing candidates from non-conventional pipelines, surfacing their expectations, and then selling said candidates and hiring managers on why what may not seem like the best fit on paper is perfect for all parties involved.
^This has to be table stakes stuff because, ultimately, building a world class employer brand that the best of the best wants to work for starts by becoming a company that is known for advancing its employee’s careers, right?