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September 29, 2020

Lessons Learned Series: Recruit and Retain the Best Talent

This year marks the 30th anniversary of SRB Communications. In honor of this accomplishment, our blog series, Lessons Learned, will highlight five key lessons that founder and CEO, Dr. Sheila Brooks learned during 30 years as an entrepreneur. This week we offer the final piece of advice in this series – Lesson #5, Recruit and Retain the Best Talent. If you missed Lesson #1- Pivot the Business, #2 – Obtaining a Bank Loan, #3 –Writing a Growth Plan, or #4 – Customer First Mindset, click the links.

You are only as good as the team that supports you. That’s why finding the best talent is imperative to the success of your business. The challenge doesn’t just stop there. Once you’ve found the talent, you need to get them to stay with your company.

Obviously, the first step is filling a need. Business owners often make the mistake of hiring someone that they don’t really need in a misguided attempt at expansion. Growth in a company doesn’t come from hiring new people. In fact, it’s usually the opposite.

When a company begins to expand, the opportunity to hire new people reveals itself. That requires you to pay close attention to your business and its needs. If you begin to turn down work because you don’t have enough people or lack people with the right skills, it might be time to hire. It never looks good for your business to appear incapable of handling the work of a client.

Hiring a new employee can solve many problems in the company, as long as it’s the right fit. No matter the reason you feel you need someone, always ask yourself, “Will this person add value to my company?”

Now that you have a position to fill, what does the best talent look like? It’s not necessarily the leading experts in the industry. Rather, it’s someone who fits the position but also fits your work culture. In order for a person to fit the position, they need the skills that are required to competently function in the job. This works both ways; just as you wouldn’t want someone under-qualified, you don’t want someone overqualified. It may seem counter-intuitive, but your goal is to retain the talent you find. Someone overqualified for the position may easily become bored and move on quickly in search of something that challenges them. That’s why finding the perfect fit is so important. A person who is equal to the position they take will stay engaged with the work they do and last longer.

That said, no matter how well they match the position, they must match the work culture. Culture at a company is vital to its survival. Every owner should want an environment for their employees that make them feel good. You might find the best person for the job but if they don’t jell with the rest of the team and ruins the environment for other employees, it’s a bad fit.

For example, if your current team is very serious and professional, adding a goofy and talkative new employee might not mix well into the culture. The best talent is often very different for each business and each position. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for in an employee allows you to narrow your focus and find the best for you and your business.

There’s a number of ways you can find talent.

There’s an app for that. We are fortunate enough to live in a world filled with technology and the phrase, “there’s an app for that,” is not untrue. There are dozens of apps and websites like ZipRecruiter, Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, and LinkedIn. Most notably, LinkedIn has more than 706 million users. These sites allow you to post jobs, and based on the qualifications you require, it will search there userbase for people matching the description. This ensures that you’re not wasting your time and receive the best talent for your position to review.

Networking. However, one of the best ways to recruit talent is through your personal connections. When SRB was still in production, I knew where the talent was. I had been a television journalist, but I also had experience in radio and newspapers. So, I was able to rely on those networks I developed to find talent. As a business owner, I make it a point to be active in professional organizations. Throughout the years, I’ve cultivated relationships with all of the national minority media organizations, like the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; industry groups like the American Advertising Federation, ColorComm, the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC), Leadership Greater Washington and various Chambers of Commerce. Networking like this allows me to have insight in the industry as a whole and build connections that may one day may turn into an opportunity for recruitment.

No matter how good we are at finding talent, getting them to join and stay is a whole other challenge. In a competitive job market, you have to give people work-life balance and allow them the opportunity to grow. You need to provide them with professional development and show them that you believe that there are creative ways that they can advance themselves. Develop unique incentives that help you recruit and retain your talent; an extra week of vacation when you hire them, extra time off, cash bonuses, rewards, birthday parties, etc. You have to show employees that you really care about them because that’s what people are looking for.

There is a remote culture and a travel culture growing in the professional world, and you have to adapt to those changes. If you understand what drives the talent you seek to recruit, you can craft your business to provide it. Whereas the older generations lived to work; the younger ones work so that they can live. Build a culture for them.

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