Recruiting the Best Talent for Your Team

Okay, let’s get this straight from the get go, as a Middle the only real tools that you have (other than your attitude) to accomplish what you want to do is your team (from now on known as Teamers). You must make every effort to find, recruit, hire and keep the best talent possible. As coaches in all sports often point out “you are only as good as your players.”

Recruiting must be your first step in improving the overall performance of you and your team. You can’t improve your quality, productivity, planning or communications without having the best possible talent on your team. But you must understand that recruiting is a process, not an event, and must include the following ideas, tips, techniques and processes to help you find the best talent possible.

Job Success Talents - First off, you need to identify and define exactly what you want to find, that is the skills and strengths that you need for each of your Teamers. How can you effectively recruit if you don’t know the talents that you need for each of your Teamers to have?

Job Success Talents are the skills and strengths that a person needs to have or develop to do a job well. Perhaps you are wondering, “What’s the difference between skills and strengths?” It is really fairly simple. I think that the best description of the difference is provided in the book Don't Retire, REWIRE! written by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners where they offer "strengths are innate and skills are learned. Strengths are what you have to work with; skills are what you develop."

“Innate” means talents that you have from birth or that are native to you. You can’t learn them, but you can improve them with training and practice. Some examples of strengths are being self-motivated, ambitious or determined while some examples of skills are listening, mediating or written communications.

During your recruiting interviews, don’t waste valuable time asking generic and meaningless questions such as “Why are you interested in joining our organization?” or “What do you feel that you can provide to help our organization?” During candidate interviews, always ask targeted questions to determine if the candidate really has the Job Success Talents that you need. For example, if you need a person with great oral presentation skills, ask candidates “What’s the best (or worst) presentation you’ve ever done, and why?” If you need someone who can handle stress, ask “How do you deal with stress?” If the person you need must be able to solve problems, ask “What’s the biggest problem that you’ve solved and how?” Get the idea? A resume tells you what the candidate wants you to know about them, but you need to ask the right questions during the interview to get a better idea if they really have the necessary Job Success Talents.

“In creating, the only hard thing’s to begin; a grass-blade’s no easier to make than an oak.”

- James Russell Lowell

The Job Description - A complete, formal, written and up-to-date definition of what you want each of your Teamers to do, including the talents needed, special training required, supervision exercised and overall responsibilities. Simply, the Job Description is the “pillar” of all that you do with your team. Most people know what a Job Description is but few know what a Job Description can be.

Think of the Job Description as the following tools to address these critical needs:

  • It’s an agreement between you and each of your Teamers on what you want them to do, what responsibilities they will have, what qualifications they must have or develop and how they are to work with other Teamers and the overall Organization.
  • It’s a tool to help you measure each Teamer’s performance.
  • It provides information to determine the appropriate salary for each position.
  • It provides information for advertisements and Internet postings for hiring.
  • It provides standard expectations to feed your reward, empowerment and performance review processes for your Teamers.

A good Job Description is the “vision” of the person that you want to work with and have as a member of your team.

Ask your Teamers for help in writing and updating Job Descriptions on a regular basis, but you should be the one to start the process of writing new and updating existing Job Descriptions. Have them reviewed by your Teamers. They are doing the work. They know what it takes to do their job. Trust them and always include their changes and comments!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”

- Lawrence J. Peter

Ask Your Team For Help! - Ask and encourage your Teamers to help you interview and hire the talents you and they need. Don’t try to do all the interviewing and hiring as a “management thing.”

I’ve worked with lots of Middles and Seniors that think that asking for help in recruiting new talent is a sign of “weakness.” I think that is completely wrong. Asking your team to help interview and select new talent and perhaps future coworkers makes perfect sense to me.

I would always select a variety of Teamers from different disciplines to do the interviews. You get different ideas and opinions from a true cross section of your team. I kept the interviews to no more than four Teamers and myself. Make sure that everyone uses your Job Success Talents and appropriate targeted interview questions.

I always had a meeting with everyone as soon as possible after the interview. Doing a group debrief meeting immediately after the interview keeps everything fresh and you’ll make better decisions. During group debrief meetings make sure that everyone shares their opinions freely and openly. Make a group decision on hiring. If you’re not comfortable doing this, don’t! I always have, and it has always worked well for me.

“When you’re drowning, you don’t say ‘I really would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream.”

- John Lennon

Recruiting Is A PROCESS Not an EVENT - Now that you know what you want to find and your Teamers are ready to help, how do you get the word out? Again, recruiting is not an “event driven” process that you do when you want to hire someone. Recruiting needs to be an ongoing process of “getting the word out” on you, your team and your organization. You must consistently communicate your “talent needs” and “opportunities offered” to the world in as many ways as possible. These are critical components that you should consider:

  • Networking - Become a member of local groups that do the same kind of work that you do, go to the meetings and help them out if you can by speaking at a meeting or just supply information on the work discipline as appropriate. Encourage your Teamers to also join and be active in these organizations. These folks love to hear from others in their field. Always ask your friends, neighbors, Coworkers and Teamers if they know someone who might match your needs and if they do always talk with their referral.
  • College and Trade School Recruiting – Some of the most fun that I ever had as a Middle was doing on-site recruiting at the local colleges, trade schools and universities that offered students with real skills that I could use now. During campus interview sessions, I often had the chance to talk with seven or eight really talented people in a single day. Think about it: you are doing what they hope to do, so the match is already made!
  • Co-op Programs – Work with your Senior to gain approval for a co-op program with the local colleges, trade schools and universities. These hires are typically a part-time or temporary position, and it’s often easier to get budget approval for a student for just a quarter or two. But these folks can really help you immediately!

“Ability is of little account without opportunity.”

- Napoleon

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me A Match! - Okay, NOW you have an opening to fill. What do you do?

Letting potential candidates know that you have an open position is usually done through newspaper and trade journal print and online advertising for job positions on various websites and search engines.

With print advertising, you have a limited amount of space to describe your position, while with Internet postings you can pretty much provide as much information about the open position as you like.

Lastly, as the following quote suggests, don’t let your Human Resources group write or edit the advertising for you. You must write the ad and give them the copy, and don’t let them change a thing without your approval!

“Advertising is a business of words, but advertising agencies are infested with men and women who cannot write. They are helpless as deaf mutes on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.”

- David Ogilvy


Middle Management 101 – Zen in the Art of Middle Management

This website presents a methodology of “events and steps” that you need to develop, adopt and implement to become a better and happier middle manager and improve your team’s contribution and their overall happiness. This website will offer you hundreds of practical ideas, tips, techniques and processes presented in a structured methodology to help transform managers that are “stuck in the middle” to be a happier, more effective leader working with a truly empowered them that really enjoys what they do!   

Step 1 - Recruiting the Best Talent for Your Team – If you don’t start finding better talent for your team nothing gets better! You must find the best talent possible consistently to make your team better. I will cover these topics in upcoming postings:

  • Job Success Talents
  • The Job Description
  • Ask Your Team For Help!
  • Recruiting Is a PROCESS Not an EVENT
    • Networking
    • College and Trade School Recruiting
    • Co-op Programs
  •  Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me A Match!

Step 2 - Empowering Your Team - Once you find the best possible talent you need to empower them to get the most for your team. I will cover these topics in upcoming postings:

  • The One-on-One Meeting
  • Team Building
  • Let Them Fail
  • Tell Them What You Want to Achieve, But Not How
  • Trust Them
  • It’s the Work That Motivates Them

Step 3 - Rewarding Your Team – Once you have empowered your team you need to understand how to keep them. I will cover these topics in upcoming postings:

  • The Performance Review
    • The Performance Review Form
    • The Summary of Accomplishments
    • Do “Drafts” of the Performance Review Form
    • The Performance Review Meeting
    • Define the Goals for the Next Review Period
    • Performance Review Agreements
  • Keep Performance and Salary Separate!!
  • Training
  • Manage By Walking Around
  • Thank Them!!!
  • Coaching
  • Flex Time and Flex Benefits
  • Reward Them

Step 4 - Communication Is Key to Everything - You’ve found talent for your team and you’ve started empowering and rewarding them, now what? I will cover these topics in upcoming postings:

  • Meetings
  • The Rumor Round-Up Agenda Item
  • The Walk-Thru Session
  • Listen First and Watch What You Say
  • Internal Communications
  • External Communications
  • Reports for Your “Clients”
  • Tell Them What You Heard Them Tell You

Step 5 - Managing Projects - You and your Teamers must also manage your projects well, that is getting from “Point A” to “Point B” and really knowing where you are every step along the way. I will cover these topics in upcoming postings:

  • “Visualize” What You Want to Build or Do
  • The Life Cycle
  • Monitor Planned Versus Actual
  • Timekeeping
  • Move, Monitor and Modify
  • Adding Staff Won’t Give You the Results You Want
  • Getting More Done With Less – It Can Be Done!
  • Technology Stuff

Step 6 - Quality - “To Be, or Not to Be?” – I feel that quality is the most misunderstood “buzzword” ever in the world of work (Productivity would be in second place, just in case you might be wondering). I will cover these topics in the upcoming postings:

  • What is Quality?
  • Tell Me If You Measure Up – This Is NOT Easy!
  • How to Improve Your Quality
  • The Post-Mortem Meeting
  • How to “Prove” Quality? Ask Your “Clients!”
  • Have Patience; They’ve Never Done This
  • Most Quality Programs Are Started by Middles

Step 7 - Key Core Values to Display Daily – These are your daily Ten Commandments to live by while you are at work. I will cover these key core values that I suggest you adopt and display daily in all that you say, do and think in upcoming postings.

  • Do unto Others
  • Working in the “Flow” – The Only Way To Go!
  • The “Client” Is Always First
  • Run It Like Your Own Business
  • Provide Vision, Direction and Leadership Daily
  • Don’t Worship Control Over Others or Technology
  • Always Move Quickly
  • Always Look Them in the Eye with Total Honesty
  • Your Attitude
  • Friends and Family

Step 8 - Things NOT to Worry About – I will provide some ideas on things that I seriously suggest you never worry about or spend time on since you really can’t do anything about them in upcoming postings.

  • What You Can’t Control
  • Money and Budget
  • Your Senior’s Attitudes
  • Egos
  • Office Politics, Rumors and Gossip
  • The FUD Factor
  • Fear of Failure
  • Resources Wars

 “It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”

 - Wendell Berry