Nothing is as important to your success as a leader as the talent you bring to bear in support of the work of your organization. Consider:

Great strategies are worthless without the right people to propel them forward.

Ideas about growth … future year plans … plans to enter new markets and escape old ones, are all potential exercises in self-delusion without the plans to acquire, inspire and support the right talent.

Too Many “Field of Dreams” Programs without Talent

My work regularly brings me in contact with many varied and fascinating firms and managers. In general, I find that most can use an infusion of energy and creativity into their talent identification and acquisition approaches. I still see “Field of Dreams” plans flowing into budgets and commitments, without a commitment to engaging the right people. That’s poor management. Fortunately, the cure isn’t as elusive as one might think.

8 Lessons in Creative Talent Acquisition

1. Always back a strategic plan with a talent plan. The failure to identify and engage the right talent practically guarantees failure.

2. The best talent is often hiding in plain sight. Everyone is doing something…don’t let their role become your limiting view on their abilities. She’s in support. He’s in marketing. Those two might be your future superstar salespeople. Open your eyes to those around you who show initiative, ingenuity and a hunger to do more.

3. The best source of talent likely is not via the HR department or their recruiting efforts. No disrespect to those folks intended, but this is mostly on you. If you are properly networked into your business and industry, you should constantly be monitoring for prospective hires.

4. Always recruit. The best sales manager I ever worked with didn’t miss a tradeshow or city visit to connect with one or more prospective hires. His advance scouting ensured that when an opportunity arose, he was immediately prepared with qualified, enthusiastic candidates.

5. Look for talent in unusual places. A wildly successful senior leader I know regularly hands out his business cards to great restaurant servers and engaging and helpful retail salespeople, inviting them to call and talk about a career opportunity. He’s filled his organization with these capable, passionate people.

6. The best talent may not live or want to live in your geography. Get over it, join this century and figure out how to get the best people in the world working for you, regardless of where they are in the world. The technology tools and the ease of transportation make this not only practical, but attractive.

7. The talent you need for that new strategy or market opening may be outside of your industry boundaries. Trust me, for an experienced professional, your industry isn’t that hard to learn. Whatever ramp-up time there may be, will be paid back many times over with fresh perspectives.

8. Your industry’s Value Chain is a rich source of potential talent. While it violates my “outside of your industry theme,” looking at candidates from different industry suppliers, integrators or producers also gives you a fresh view to your firm’s unique situation.

The Bottom-Line for Now

Simply stated: the right people make your teams go and your organization grow. How hard and how creatively are you working at getting the right talent around you?

This blog, picked up from Information Management, originally appeared at artpetty.com, the Web site of Art Petty Group, a professional development and strategic services firm.

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