Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Find and Keep Good People in a Bad Economy – Lesson 1: Quit Hiring and Start Recruiting

As a manager in business today, you may never get a tickertape parade for our efforts or have statues erected in our honor. But you absolutely can build a winning team by taking the same approach used by top sports coaches like the University of Alabama's legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant.  Coach Bryant recruited only the very best people to work for him, in good times and bad, and played to win with them over the long haul. Applying his lessons to your utility can yield huge wins for your team as well.  Let’s look at some of them and how we can apply these to our businesses today. 
Lesson #1: Quit Hiring and Start Recruiting.
You’ll never see a “Help Wanted” sign posted for a winning sports team. These teams have recruiters out scouting for new talent constantly. They understand that, at any time, a key player could be recruited to another team, get injured, or just retire. Smart coaches don’t wait until they have an opening to start looking, either.  They go looking for great players, even when there are no open positions on the team. It's called “developing your bench.”
Business managers should do the same thing so that we constantly have a list of good people we could recruit in short order, should openings become available. To develop the bench of your business’ staff:
·         Always be looking. Keep your eyes open, and keep notes on great workers you run across day to day no matter where they may be now.
·         Advertise even when you don’t have an opening. Let your community know you are always looking to identify great people for that “call back” file. Accept applications even when you don’t have an opening.
·         Talk to your employees. Your employees can be some of the best recruiters. Let them know the importance of attracting great workers in good times and bad.
·         Have a great reputation. Recruiting means getting someone to quit what they’re doing to come work for you instead. Does your company have such a great reputation that people would be willing to leave their current employer to work for you? If not, you need to be working to make this a reality.
A good coach never rushes the wrong person onto the team just to fill a gap.  The only thing worse than an unfilled job opening is filling it with just a warm body to get through a short-term workload crunch. Don’t allow your supervisors to hire any old Bozo who lacks the necessary skills to be successful for you in the long term. To guard against this happening, management must meet with supervisors and managers regularly and remind them to hire only the best workers, even if it takes longer than hiring the next not-so-objectionable person who walks in off the street. Insist on holding out for only the very best.