“There’s no lack of talent out there; the key is creating gravity that draws talent to you.”
Few companies aren’t envious of the incredible talent gravity that Google, Facebook, and Apple exert. Companies in these enviable situations literally have talent knocking down their doors.
So how can you possibly compete? After all, you don’t have the expansive campus and the perks of day care, a health club, free gourmet food, Wi-Fi equipped buses to ease long commutes, or stock purchase plans that promise a potential windfall in compensation. Yet you might be surprised to know that, while attractive, these alone do not create the gravity to attract the best performers. And, unlike nature, this sort of gravity can be created by more than just sheer mass.
Fundamentally, there are four things that truly talented people want most out of their work and are drawn to: purpose, meaning, impact, and growth. Build a brand around these four themes and you’ll be amazed at the force of the gravity you’ll create.
What does your organization stand for? Not in terms of making a profit but in terms of making an impact on the world? Yes, I hear you: “But I’m just a small business!” Great, well then, expect to attract the sort of talent that has similarly ambiguous ambitions. Businesses are like relationships; we get the partners that we think we deserve. Right: Ouch! Sorry, but if you’re not willing to create an ambition that matches the self-worth of the best people, you simply won’t attract them. So, define your purpose in a big way, in as few words as possible.
“Business are like relationships; we get the partners that we think we deserve.”
Meaning is the superglue of culture, a shared set of beliefs that cause an employee to invest of him- or herself because it so closely aligns with the person’s values and beliefs. So what are your organization’s values and beliefs? Do you advertise them, talk about them? Are they on your website? Do you stand behind them publicly? One of my clients, Luckstone, did this by building what it calls “values-based leadership,” which focuses on innovation, community involvement, and respect for the individual. Soft and fuzzy? Not if you inculcate the term in the vernacular of the organization and then measure it constantly. The company has set the objective to be a world leader in values-based leadership and even has an internal executive position dedicated to its execution.
“Meaning is the superglue of culture, a shared set of beliefs that cause an employee to invest of him- or herself because it so closely aligns with the person’s values and beliefs.”
It’s great to tell potential employees they’ll be recognized internally for their contributions, but will they see their value in the eyes of the customer? I worked with a medical devices company that once a year brought in patients who used the devices to meet the people who designed and built them. The personal and human impact of those meetings was profound. Employees and customers would share stories, hugs, and tears over the deep sense of value they were involved with. The motivation it gave employees to strive for excellence was extraordinary. When was the last time your employees had that sort of experience?
“Employees and customers would share stories, hugs, and tears over the deep sense of value they were involved with.”
The best, brightest, and most talented people know that their only edge is growth that gives them the ability to consistently expand their own sense of self-worth. New hires in my company were assigned a mentor whose responsibility was to make sure that his or her protégés were challenged to achieve stretch goals. We would celebrate those achievements, advertise them, and reinforce each person’s value in him- or herself.
“The best, brightest, and most talented people know that their only edge is growth.”
Still having trouble with how to create talent gravity? Consider some of these tactics to broadcast your commitment to purpose, meaning, impact, and growth to the world:
- Integrate purpose, meaning, impact, and growth into your advertising, social media, and marketing. Don’t shy away from them–put them on center stage.
- Write a book that expounds on the vision behind these themes.
- Create wallet-size cards that are constant reminders of your commitment to purpose, meaning, impact, and growth.
- Make sure everyone in your organization who interviews a potential employee is taking a page out of the same book when he or she talks about these themes.
- Be relentless in reinforcing how your organization is supporting and sustaining these themes.
While I can’t guarantee that doing any or all of this will require barring your doors from the flood of prospective hires, I can guarantee that it will help you attract and retain more of the types of people who truly make a difference in growing a successful company.
Now, go create some gravity!
This article was originally published on Inc.
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Tom Koulopoulos is the author of 10 books and founder of the Delphi Group, a 25-year-old Boston-based think tank and a past Inc. 500 company that focuses on innovation and the future of business. He tweets from @tkspeaks.