A Great Leader is Always Recruiting

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A great leader’s number one goal is to have everyone in the organization want to work on their team because they will be challenged, learn the most, get compensated and promoted.

The leader with the best team will out-perform all others over time.  Business strategies will come and go. There will be times when new products are innovative and times when they are not. Marketing programs will rock some years and be flat other years. The supply chain will be flawless and it will have issues.

But the leader with the best team will always rise to the top.

It’s the Leader’s Responsibility to Recruit

To accomplish becoming the best team, a leader must always be recruiting new talent.  Talent development, communication, and staying on strategy are at the top of a leaders activities every week, and if those items aren’t, not then they are falling back.

Leaders should not rely solely on their Human Resources department to serve them up candidates as jobs open up.  That will be too late. At that point the list is probably months old and may not reflect the current needs of the marketplace.  A leader must drive their organizational staffing process.

How Great Leaders Recruit

The process begins with promoting your best people.  Your best people have learning curves and after 3-5 years with you, they will reach their peak of the learning curve and will need to find a new assignment.  Leaders should plan for this move, see it coming, and have their people moved to a new position before they start to get stale.

Next, leaders should have their own list of 5-19 people they have been activity recruiting for at least a couple of years.  This can start out as a get to know over coffee or lunch and then evolve to a point where the person is activity working on a task force on their team while they are still in their current position.  This way a leader can evaluate the person in action and engagement with their team. There are many ways to make this work but the point is that the leader should be driving this process.

Finally, you have to make a move on your bottom performers.  Start with trying to get them the training and support so they can up their game to a least the team average.  If that does not work out, then the leader should work just as hard to find them a new assignment as they have trying to find their best performers a promotion.  If you want everyone in the organization to work on your team, everyone needs to know you promote people and take care of those who fall short.

Leadership Lessons about Recruiting

I learned this lesson the hard way in my first few management positions, and thankfully grew to have a better understanding as I earned leadership roles.  

In the very first position I had to fill as a new manager, I took the first name that HR gave me, conducted the interview, hired her the next day... and fired her 90 days later.  

It was a disaster.

Her best skill was interviewing and her performance went south quickly after I hired her.

Recruit a Diverse Team

The next big lesson I learned is that I need to hire a portfolio of talent not just people that look, think and do things like I do them.  This seems pretty obvious to everyone, but I see leaders making this mistake all the time across many organizations.

In the old days you saw guys hiring guys, salespeople hiring salespeople, marketers hiring marketers...you get the point.  Now I see it happening all over again with people hiring people that look like them, came up the same way, and who have similar backgrounds or challenges.  

However, all leaders need a team that is a portfolio of skills and background.

The best team I ever hired was assembled for a strategy development team. It contained a top sales leader, product development leader, finance leader and a top marketer.  They all had some of the same qualities, were great collaborators, and possessed terrific interpersonal and communication skills, but the most important asset they each had was the desire to always learn and have a great curiosity.  

This group learned how to teach each other their skillset.  The sales leader taught the marketer how to have conversations with customers, the finance leader taught everyone how to impact the P&L quickly, the product leader taught the product development process, and the marketer taught them how to activate their ideas in the marketplace.  This was a high performing, fun team to lead.

As you build and  rebuild your team, you might need fresh thinking from outside the company, people with diverse backgrounds, some who have wisdom from a long term career, or those who simply get mountains of work done with no drama.  If leaders don’t assemble a portfolio of talent, they will not be leaders for long.

Always be recruiting.