“What Makes a Top Performer in Business?” Series: Part I

Sitting on my shelf collecting dust bunnies since last fall, I finally decided to pick up and open the book Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.

What suddenly peaked my interest in the talent subject was graduating exactly a year ago and where I have come in my career since then.  It got me thinking about where and what I will be many years from now.

Within the past year, I have followed, read, met, and spoken with many great business leaders in all industries, and this got me thinking about career paths and just how do people get to the top. Are they always in it to win it, or do they just go with the flow from a strategic plan?

When you see or hear the word “talent,” what instantly comes into your mind? Is it sports, a favorite game of yours, or the skills required in your job?

We might think that world-class performers in any area of interest were born with an unexplained “gift.” Geoff Colvin states that researchers found that superstars like Bill Gates, Jack Welch, or Warren Buffet are just like everyone else from the start of their careers. Anyone can reach to be world class performers in their industry by exhausting deliberate practice. Researchers found few signs of advanced achievement before the individuals started intensive training, stated Colvin.

One could argue that, well if it’s not a natural “gift,” then it has to be IQ. Yet, Colvin pointed out something I never realized before, “…IQ was of no value in predicting how quickly they would improve. Many studies of adults in the workplace have shown the same pattern.”

So, if high achievers and intelligence aren’t intertwined, then how can a company find and keep the talent to grow?

Colvin coined the term “human ability,” and he determined that it’s a company’s scarcest resource to date. Companies need to spot potential, provide constant challenges and, offer growth opportunities in order to develop an employee to become a phenomenon. This way, companies can continuously build success from their highly-developed employees, which will yield limitless potential.

Bill Gates once said:

“If you took the twenty smartest people out of Microsoft it would be an insignificant company, and if you ask around the company what its core competency is, they don’t say anything about software. They say it’s hiring. They know what the scarce resource is.”

The main message from Colvin’s book thus far: no one knows if they have or will acquire these traits to become a world-class performer. The question is: what makes some people excel more than others? Stay tuned for part two…

Photo credit: zimbio.com

Post written by Julie Skowronek, Assistant Marketing Manager at Whiting Consulting.

I’m a Start-Up, and I Need to Start Hiring… Now What?

What is going to make your business grow? Hiring the right people. What is the most important asset to your organization? Hiring the right people. How are you going to meet your business objectives? Hiring the right people. Yet most organizations don’t take the time to really think about how, who, or when they are going to attract people to their organization.

For some reason, hiring is very reactive, and this puts pressure on making quick decisions versus taking the time to really think about who, what, how, and when.

So let’s take a step back…

Your company is growing, which is a great thing. You are at a point where you need to add talent in order to meet upcoming demand. plant in hand

Sometimes, you have to be more reactive even when you are a start-up because in order to scale you have to have demand. Think about where your bottlenecks currently are… where you have the most exposure and need to fill in that gap to make the next leap. For most organizations it is sales, marketing, or development. You need to find folks that can bring in new business, you need folks to promote your business, or you need to add and develop technology to stay ahead of the innovation curve.

I tell my clients to be proactive as much as they can regarding their hiring needs. Map out a hiring plan in six (6) month segments and think about where you are going to need folks to meet your upcoming demand. Give yourself as much time as possible. If you are not at the point where you can either hire a recruiting company to help you in the process or your network is not rich in this area, allow yourself a good three (3) months to bring on that resource.

Recruiting takes time. You already have a day job and you want to ensure that you give yourself plenty of time to find the right resource.

·      If your company is just starting out and you are making your first big hire, make sure to have a “pitch.” You have to remember that candidates are consumers; they are seeking out their next job. This equates to a major purchase, and they are going to do their research.

·      Make sure you have a detailed job description. It is important to have thinking clearly outlined. This will make the process run more smoothly and the candidate will have a better understanding of their overall responsibilities and expectations of the role.

·      Ensure that your interview team is consistent on what the company is hiring for, that the team is “on board” with the choice to hire, and that everyone understands what the benefits are going to be. Everyone should know what this person’s responsibilities would be. Candidates want to see that your team knows where they are going to fit into your company’s picture and what contributions they are expected to provide.

Also research what the going rate is for the resources you are looking to hire. Many start-ups simply cannot afford the pay-level of the people they are looking to hire. They want VP-level skills for a mid-level manager’s salary, but in the end, this can hurt your overall process by not biting the bullet and hiring at the salary level you really need. If you are going to make the right hire, invest in where you need to grow your organization. Having a candidate settle for a lower salary in the end is not a win/win situation.  This process takes planning and strategy.  But, if executed effectively, you can have your new employee making significant contributions to your company’s bottom line within 90 days of hire.  That is music to the ears of any startup company.  Invest on the front end and your return on the back end will be substantial.

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