I have the pleasure of speaking to and working with lots of different organizations and companies. They all have unique stories and cultures, but it seems that they all struggle with the same problem. Whether it’s a quick-service restaurant trying to hire frontline employees, or a large corporation looking for recent college graduates, the overwhelming majority say they struggle to hire great talent. In fact, out of the organizations I interact with regularly, it’s the number one issue they face.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about selecting the right people for your organization, and I gave an example of a grocery store manager who had extremely low expectations for his potential team members. He even said, “If someone can put a sentence together and tie their own shoelaces, I will hire them.”
Today, I want to talk about how damaging this attitude toward hiring can be. Selecting the wrong people can stunt the growth and delay the success of any organization, and once we begin to hire the wrong individuals, it’s even more difficult to break out of this cycle and hire the talent we desire.
Here’s why: We reproduce what we have, not what we want. At some point, you’ve settled for subpar talent, and now, you can’t hire anyone that meets your standards.
Think about it. The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School performed a survey that asked millennials to state what they are most looking for in a new job. Out of the students they polled, 65% said they are looking for an opportunity for personal development.
The talent we desire is looking for an opportunity to grow in a new job. However, many of us tire of the painstaking process of hiring, so we make the mistake of delegating it to someone else—sometimes, someone that doesn’t exhibit the qualities we now desire in our team. Do you think this potential talent is going to be attracted to the person conducting their interview? If we know millennials are looking for personal development, and they look at our organization and see individuals that lack motivation, discipline, and ambition, then why are we surprised when we can’t get the people we want?
When giving dating advice, Andy Stanley challenges people to, “Become the person you’re looking for is looking for.” Think about that. Doesn’t the same apply to the hiring process?
We can see that happy and content people attract other happy and content people and develop healthy relationships. At the same time, unhappy people attract other unhappy people and often develop toxic relationships.
The same happens in our organizations.
Churches full of passionate and proactive members attract other people eager to learn and serve.
Colleges that develop talented and driven people will attract more talented and driven individuals, elevating the entire school.
And of course, businesses full of hard-working, ambitious individuals attract more high-caliber team members.
We can desire great talent, but the majority of the time we will not attract what we want but more of what we already have. If you want to attract the right people, you have to get the right people in the first place, so you can create the environment that other top-tier people want to join. And if you don’t have the right people already in place, spend every effort to develop your team into the people you want to hire.
Until you develop your existing talent, you’ll never attract the talent you desire.
If you’re the manager of a team, work to help your team members reach their full potential and become the talent you want to hire.
If you’re the pastor of church, encourage your congregation to grow in their faith, so you’ll attract other people eager to learn and fulfill the Great Commission.
If you organize volunteers for a nonprofit, frequently share your passion for this cause to help develop more eager and effective volunteers.
If you are a student recruiter for a university, showcase the kinds of students you desire to enroll.
Developing and hiring great talent takes intentional time and hard work, but the efforts are well worth the lasting positive impact on your organization.