Leading printing executives into the future
It's Not Just About Talent
By Jerry Scher
Published: January 22, 2013
One of the greatest challenges in any organization is attracting, hiring and developing the most
talented employees. In order to compete in our rapidly changing economic environment you need
the most capable and competent people on your team. As you attempt to execute your
thoughtfully designed strategies, the greater the value your employees can add to your internal
and external clients' lives, the easier it will be to differentiate your offering and gain a
One way to determine the impact that talent can have on your company is to assess the
performance differential between your best performers and your average performers. Whether
your metrics are based on financial results, activity levels, production results, team collaboration
or any other metric that you focus on, the competence of your employees will dramatically
impact your overall performance.
Companies in numerous industries are encountering challenges regarding the type of talent they
must recruit, hire and develop. The driving force in many situations is based on the introduction
of new and innovative products/services, the impact of technology and the competencies that are
required, the need for a more focused team approach and of course the retiring baby boomer
generation creating job opportunities.
In all companies some jobs are more critical than others because of the overall impact they can
have on your successful execution. Whether these jobs are in production, creative services,
financial services, client services, sales and marketing, administrative or the executive level,
defining performance gaps is an important step. The process of determining the type and quality
of the talent you must attract, recruit, hire and develop is a crucial component of aligning your
strategies, goals and objectives with your current and desired talent acquisition activities.
There are many definitions of talent but typically we think we know talent when we see or
experience it. Frequently we refer to the natural strengths an individual possesses but if we limit
our definition in this way, we are frequently disappointed. We have all experienced people who
are talented but never reach their full potential. Therefore natural talent by itself is not enough.
We also need to consider the skills, knowledge and overall competence an individual
demonstrates. And that includes both hard and soft skills.
Depending upon the position, defining the hard skills is a fairly easy process; but you do have to
carefully define the job and recognize what degree of competency is needed to effectively
execute the required responsibilities. Aside from traditional job descriptions that describe the
prerequisites (i.e. education, past experience, technical skills and specialized
training/certification) you also need to define the behavioral competencies to look for in
candidates and establish benchmarks. This information is available by assessing your best
performers as well accessing research that has been done for similar jobs in multiple industries
(i.e. finance, IT, management, sales, marketing, logistics, and data management). While
knowledge of your industry and company is important and should be assessed, the soft
skills/competencies for many jobs are easily transferable from one industry to another.
The behavioral competencies most commonly sought after (of course based on the job) include:
Strategic Judgment – Includes a combination and balance of traits necessary to recognize
relevant information, and formulate an effective strategy.
Effective Enforcing - Includes ability to skillfully correct others when they are violating rules or
Innovative - The ability to create new and more effective ways of doing things.
Provides Direction – The tendency to manifest the traits necessary for a leadership role.
Interpersonal Skills - A balance of traits that relate to effective interaction with others.
People Oriented – A balance of traits that would enable one to positively interact with others.
Organizational Compatibility – The tendency to work co-operatively with others (assuming
sufficient job related knowledge and team compatibility).
Negotiating – The tendency to bargain in order to reach a beneficial agreement
Within each of these behavioral competencies we can find a variety and range of traits. Some of
the more common traits are:
While determining which traits are important for each job you also want to know to what degree
they are important. Some traits are considered essential for each position and some are desirable.
There are also traits that you want to avoid – in other words, if these traits are exhibited and
experienced by others they will actually make it difficult for an individual to succeed. Some of
these traits to avoid are blunt, dogmatic, harsh, permissive, impulsive and defensive. The greater
degree these traits exist, the more they interfere with an individual’s performance.
When you are determining the talent needs for each job you must pay close attention to the soft
skills or behavioral competencies that support success. We refer to the hard skills and past
experience as Eligibility for the job while we refer to the soft skills or behavioral competencies
as Suitability. It is quite common for companies to hire based on Eligibility and then fire
employees based on a lack of Suitability for the position. The high costs of hiring or promoting
ineffectively is too high to ignore these important insights.
If you believe that by bringing together the best talent while leveraging their talents you could
dramatically improve your company’s performance, than instituting a structured, repeatable
process for attracting, recruiting and hiring the best talent should be a high priority. As in all
business practices, systems are put in place to ensure predictable outcomes; so why not with your
talent acquisition and development process?
The first step in the process should involve carefully defining the job and its’ requirements –
hard and soft skills. Next, we have to develop a plan to attract the best of the best talent
available. If we attract effectively than we need an efficient and cost efficient process to filter
through the candidates to create your short list (there’s got to be a better way than to read
hundreds or even thousands of resumes). With your short list in hand, you need to refine the list
based on a careful review of each of the candidates, especially in the area of suitability.
The next two steps involve the first interview and second interview which should be structured
and conducted to further screen your top candidates. After the second interview you should be
able to identify the top 1-2 candidates. Finally, you should prepare a thorough recruitment
package to present to your top choice(s); keeping in mind that if you’re searching for the best
talent, they may have other options. The recruitment package must address the benefits of the job
and the company from the candidate’s perspective. Finally, a well thought out development plan
should be designed for on-boarding the new employee and a longer term strategy that can enable
your new hire to become a highly productive member of your team.
As businesses continue to become more complex and the need for new strategies, new products
and services continues to expand, the need for new and different skills and competencies will
drive the importance of identifying and recruiting the most talented employees. Your ability to
create a systematic approach to win the talent war will be a critical component to executing your
If you would like more information about designing a systematic program for attracting,
recruiting, hiring and developing top talent read the Peak Focus - Optimized Talent
Acquisition and Development Program or contact Jerry Scher at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerry Scher has been engaged in the graphic communication industry for over 35 years, Jerry's
primary goal - make those around him more successful.