Recruit, Coach, Mentor and Retain Top Talent

"Get the right people on the bus ... and in the right seats", - Jim Collins, Good to Great

One of my favorite business books is Good to Great by Jim Collins. There are so many valuable concepts in the book and one that sticks out to me is to "get the right people on the bus."

Consider this. How many times have you looked around an organization, found many smart people, but still the operation is not a high-performance machine - a true team. Just because individuals are smart or nice does not make them the right fit for a team that is going to help the business take the necessary radical leaps to get to the next level.

In management consulting, I worked with more than 30 multi-faceted businesses around the world. Each faced traditional and nontraditional business challenges. Each had its share of politics and people issues. And each struggled to get the right people on the bus and move the wrong people off of the bus.

Typically, companies "pass-off " poor performers, or those that may not be the "best fit", to another part of the same organization. They struggle with the decision to let someone go. This is not fair to the individual or the business. The "it's not my problem any more" attitude is detrimental to the overall performance of the organization, to internal teams and to the individual. If it's not the right fit, move them on. It is in the best interest of everyone involved.

Additionally, companies often fail to put in place a recruiting and hiring system that identifies not only technical or business skills in prospective employees, but also their personality, people skills, potential to lead, and engagement in philanthropic or community activities outside of work.

Surround yourself with people of high potential. Never be afraid to hire others smarter, more flexible, or more knowledgeable than yourself. After reading numerous leadership books stating this exact principle, I still find that managers feel threatened and therefore, choose others that are "non-threatening" to fill roles on a team. Those that are weaker, not as smart, not the right people to move the organization forward. What a mistake. Leaders surround themselves with individuals of even greater talent, skill and ability.

A good leader is able to provide coaching and direction to talented individuals; allowing others to take credit for accomplishments and results. As you recruit the right people for your organization, dedicate time to educating them. Who has helped you get to where you are today? Who has nudged you or provided you constructive performance feedback? How do you mentor others - do you recognize when others look to you and observe your actions as well as how you handle situations and people? Mentoring others is a way to give back and leave an imprint on the life or career of another person.

Encouragement is powerful in today's society. It could be a handwritten note card, an unexpected phone call or surprise visit to tell someone that you appreciate their work - that you recognize their efforts and have learned something from them. That you believe in them. Do not take this responsibility lightly. Treat associates like professionals; trust their judgment and coach mistakes.

Finally, keep in mind that your top talent must be maintained aggressively. Often taken for granted or placed to the side in order to focus on poor performers, and with the assumption that they are self-sustaining, your top performers must consistently remain a focus for development and growth. Gerhard Gschwandtner states that high achievers are:

> Driven by a pioneering spirit > Impatient with those who seek safety and comfort > Know that all horizons are artificial > Focused on climbing higher, searching deeper, looking far back and at the same time looking far ahead

If you want to strengthen your personal brand then find the best talent, win their hearts and mentor them to mastery. Surround yourself with others that are stronger and smarter than you - and learn from them! A solid foundation comes from investing time and money in finding, cultivating and encouraging individuals with talent.