Know What You Are Looking For - Making Talent Acquisition a Competitive Advantage

The critical dimensions of fit

Talent acquisition is ultimately about managing risk. Risk, in turn, is about fit. There are five critical dimensions of fit:

  1. Fit with the organisation's values.
  2. Culture fit - this implies measurement of today's culture and the culture the organisation needs to be successful in the future.
  3. Performance fit - building a scorecard for the role.
  4. Leadership fit - role-specific competencies.
  5. Team fit - this demands a meaningful assessment of the team.

All dimensions are essential. Even if you are driving a Ferrari; if one of the four wheels and/or the steering wheel is missing … you are not going to go very far.

Organisation values

The organisation's values represent the CEO's and, by implication, the leadership point of view of the top team. The challenge being that although many organisations proport to have robust organisation values for perhaps the majority they amount to little more than window dressing.

Where the organisation's values are either absent or only of secondary importance the default action is to shape behaviour by introducing "rules." Rules not only ensure that even simple decisions take longer to make but they quickly become enforceable boundaries that those who are interested in protecting "turf" are quick to erect.

For a measure of the team, see John O. Burdett, TEAM: Align, Build, Connect & Develop (2015). The "Taking Your Team to the Next Level" Assessment looks at the team through four distinct lenses:

  1. What does the team need to know?
  2. How effective is the team leader?
  3. Where and how can those on the team become better team players?
  4. What does the team need to do to accelerate through the performance/learning curve?

Leadership competencies

Generic leadership competencies answer the question, "What does it mean to be a successful leader in this organisation?" Role-specific leadership competencies answer the question, "What does it mean to be a successful leader in this role?" There is a time and place for improvisation and informed guesswork. That said, an apt definition might describe such a behaviour as "gambling".

Defining success in a key role that has just become open isn't the time to wager a bet. A miss-hire can easily end up costing 15 times or even 20 times the annual salary. This is to say nothing of the opportunity cost, the disruption to the team and/or those times when hiring a key executive amounts to betting the business.

Orchestrating fit

Somewhere in orchestrating fit a new reality emerges. For the first time since the birth of the Industrial Revolution, the team has truly become the building block of organisational success. The network organisation, the power of expertise, the speed of change, the need to release the creativity and talent of employees at every level, the portability of talent, and that innovation is indelibly linked to diversity and the freedom to act, all mean that we need super teams far more than superstars.

President Teddy Roosevelt suggested that leadership meant, "Talking softly and carrying a big stick." The only reason a team leader should carry a big stick today is to strike themselves sharply around the head if, for a moment, they forget that they work for the team … not that the team works for them.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2019.

Insights from "Talent Acquisition - The Battle For Tomorrow".

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