You have a great business idea. After a lot of hard work it has taken off. The business is growing. You are getting great sales results. Your customers love your product. But the pressure on you is proving too much. The cracks are starting to show. Your partner complains that you are never there, even when you are. And you hardly get to see your kids or friends. You need some help but you are not sure how to get it.
Or you got that great new job in leadership. It’s the job you’ve been working towards your whole career. But you have inherited someone else’s team. You are not sure that they will work as well with you. They might not be your sort of people. Or you don’t think they are as good as they could be. You want to give yourself the best chance of success. So you can move on to the next level. You want to bring in your own team. But you are not sure what the best way is to find them.
Or maybe you have been trusted by your company with setting up a new business. It is a major investment. You need to put a team together to help you. But you are not sure that your business has the right people. So you want to look outside as well as letting people inside apply.
Or maybe someone just leaves. Leaving a massive gap to fill.
You have dozens of internal or external people telling you they can help. They are experts. Their job is to find you the best people. But what do you need to know to make the right choice? What do you need to know to make sure you find the right one for you?
Your pain, their gain
The secret to this is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. To find the person for whom this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Then you will transform their life as well as yours. They will be excited coming into work every day. They will put everything they have into their job. They will be so motivated that you can trust them to excel.
You won’t have to worry about what they are doing. You won’t have to worry about whether things get done on time. You won’t have to worry whether things will get done properly. You will be able to concentrate on your job. You will be able to add value doing what you do best and take the business to the next level.
A simple process
The process you need to go through to find them is actually quite simple. You need to think of all the places you might find them. Which industries, which sectors, which companies? Which job titles, what is the right level? Do I want to bring in someone at the same level? This might be expensive and they might get frustrated. But they would be a safe pair of hands, experienced and reliable. Or do I want to look a level down, and get someone who could step up?
Too often the search for new people is scattergun. Companies source people from a number of different routes. They miss out on a overview of where they have looked, and what they might have missed. So the process needs to be systematic and creative. Where might they be found? What might they be doing? Which personal characteristics might you find in different places? Cover all the places you might find them and then reach out to them.
Send them an initial note or leave them a message. Give them a headline overview of what you are looking for. Then follow up with further information. A job description and a website link. If they want to find out more arrange a time to speak. They will have many questions. You have the answers. But put yourself in their shoes. What will be most attractive to them? If its not for them, ask them whom they think it would suit. Where they might be found. Do they know anyone?
When you put yourself in their shoes you understand how you appear to them. Whether you are a start up, a step up or a new venture; what you are doing is the perfect job for someone. You just need to find them. With a systematic and creative process and you will understand whom the job is attractive to. Why they see a move to your company, your industry, your niche as a step forward for them.
You will find people for whom this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Sometimes this means looking in unusual places, outside the obvious. A different sized company, a different part of the market, consultancy maybe, or an obscure part of a major player. Or you may want to look abroad, there may be untapped talent pools in another part of the world.
A dangerous and polluting industry
I worked with one of the world’s largest steel companies to help them source a number of technical leaders in mining. This has a major impact on the environment in the countries in which they operate. Regulation is tightening and dangerous practices that kill people and harm the environment need to be prevented.
When I first met Gus he was under a lot of pressure and this was very stressful. He needed an expert in the dams that contain the waste products when the useful elements are separated out. There had been a number of catastrophes and they needed to appoint a leading global expert. We were restricted to people in the mining industry. But we could look across different players in different parts of the world: places like Brazil, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Australia and Canada.
They wanted them to be based in a French speaking territory, with high taxes. Some people were prepared to consider this, especially if they came from a less developed part of the world. Others had personal reasons for wanting to be based in this region. The global nature of the industry meant that they had been working far away from friends and family.
The pressure to appoint grew after a number of people for the French speaking territory fell through. There was great demand for this skill set due to the disasters. It was a long and exhaustive process. But by the end we knew we had the right person. After a year’s work we found someone working on site in Asia who was from Europe. He had worked around the world in consultancy and corporate site based roles. But this would be his first Head Office role. It was a fantastic opportunity for the candidate. He could build on his experience and use it in a corporate leadership role. It really rounded off his career.
We knew who all the best people were and had spoken to them. What the various advantages they offered were and their level of interest. And we knew the various personal attributes of people with different backgrounds. This gave them the confidence to change the location and offer him a step up. It was a massive relief for Gus. And we were able to apply this same approach to the other senior technical positions.
By putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes we understood their motivation. We could see what was attractive about this opportunity. We knew that there were many other opportunities in the market. By understanding this and responding to the market we were able to find the right person. Appointing him in a different location, but keeping the global responsibility. Giving him the opportunity to step into a new role building on his extensive experience. If they didn’t understand the market and respond to it positively they would have failed.
An alpha team
Having an alpha team makes all the difference between success and failure. You need a systematic and creative process to identify and approach all the people who could do the job. The secret is to find those people for whom your opportunity is the opportunity of a lifetime. To do this you need to think of the many different places you might find them. Not just the obvious places. Try different geographies, different levels, different parts of the industry, other industries with transferrable skills. Talk to all these people and listen to the ones who say no. They will give you crucial insights into who the best people and places to find them are.
In our example, it was the person who had been doing technical expert consultancy and site based leadership roles their whole career. The opportunity to step up to a corporate leadership role was exceptional for them. The company got someone who was ready to work incredibly hard to complete the circle of their career.
I hope this has been helpful to you. You can get your copy of my complete guide to an alpha sustainability team by entering your email. If you know anyone it might be useful for, please share it with them. Thank you and good luck.