Buying or Building your Talent!

For the last several years, we have all been obsessed – and rightfully so – with being able to find good people to work for our businesses or more specifically, unable to find good people period!  In fact, we’ve been so engrossed with “finding”/ “buying” talent from the outside, with very little, if any focus on actually retaining and building the talent we have inside our businesses.

A groundbreaking study by the Harvard Business School found that hiring star employees can actually have a negative effect on the business as a whole. What’s more, the study reveals that performance isn’t as replaceable as it would seem and bring in prolific people often leads to higher turnover and lower morale.

Instead, I would like to offer you a profoundly better way to ensure we stop this never-ending cycle and allow ourselves to operate and build a sustainable business.  Before I do this, let’s look at the downside of hiring your superstars.

  • Studies have shown that it can be a risky practice, because generally superior performance at one place (i.e. another business), doesn’t necessarily equal superior performance in your business. Why? It was also identified that an individual’s performance is directly related to the people around them, as employees are not independent of their environment. It’s pretty clear from this study that it is a lot more about fit than it is about performance! 
  • Other negatives that came from this study, showed that bringing on these superstars destroyed morale where other employees became resentful to these “newbies”.  In many respects, we find ourselves paying our superstar employees a little more than the “rest”, which creates significant resentment by other employees and consequently damage to your business’s culture and retention value. What’s worse, these new superstar employees eventually underperform.

Bottom-line, we leave our existing employees with the notion that we only look to the outside for success and the options for advancement internally in the business is a dead-end notion. Looking outside would be the only way to move ahead in one’s career and then…we lose our talent we just bought!.

I offer you a better way…

For those that have been reading my blogs as of late, will undoubtedly know that I’ve been harping on “hiring right the first time around”.

Being able to boost your hiring accuracy levels not seen yet in Alberta, is something that most conscientious and smart business leaders would want to do…right? Not necessarily. We speak and think about this scenario as nirvana, but in actual fact, it can be a reality for industry, if we just took a minute to explore what was out there.

Just imagine if your “job could talk” and be able to tell you what technical and behavioural factors it would need to ensure superior performance? Wouldn’t that be awesome!  As per Jim Collins in “Good to Great”, “Getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats”  is what it’s all about…but wait!  Once we hopefully have the right people in their seats, surely it would make sense to do all we can to keep them there and grow and develop them as our only growing capital asset we have in our businesses? Remember, it’s more about finding talent that fits your business culture, not all about past and present performance.

Don’t misunderstand me, assessing and buying new talent based on their previous and present performance level is very important, but it’s a challenge for most to find that superstar out there and his/her “extended level of superior performance”.  So if you can find someone with high potential but less history as it relates to superior performance, wouldn’t it make sense to hire talent like this, only to grow this talent from the inside of your business? Just watch the magic unfold as you see your retention rates climb, taking your business to the next level!

My suggestion…

As Human Beings we want to find the easy way out or the shortcut if you will…so why not just continue replacing and paying big bucks for external talent vs. keeping and growing this talent within our businesses?  Believe it or not, you’ll start taking yourself out of “scramble mode” and placing yourself and your business in “sustainable growth mode”.

Want to know how to achieve this and much more? Give me a shout at or phone me to set up a coffee chat at 780-850-6957.

Until the next time, may the business force be with you all!