The world has changed. Sustainability is top of the corporate and social agenda. And you are leading a business that is making a difference. Yet day-to-day it doesn’t feel like that. Things have gone so well up until now. But with every success comes new challenges. The biggest of those now is leadership. Your days are filled with little mistakes that you have to fix and a team that relies on you for everything. You know you need strong leaders to support you. But you’re not sure how to get the best. And the concern that you might make the wrong choice keeps you up at night. Don’t worry, you are not alone, getting the right people can be challenging. To do it well there are three essential things you need to know:
1. How to find the best people
2. How to engage with them
3. How to close the deal
They don’t know who the right people are
You know you need help and you know you want amazing people. You know some of them. But you don’t know if they would want to work with you. You know there must be others. But how do you find them? You could try looking yourself or you could get someone else to help. But you are not sure of the best way to go about it.
They key is to get a deep understanding of the market for your position. You have a specific niche. You have a particular product. You are a certain sized company. You have a unique strategy, culture and location. It is going to be a very exciting proposition for a specific group of people. And for one person in particular it is going to be the opportunity of a lifetime. Finding them is a detailed process of mapping the possible industries, sectors, companies, divisions, job titles and people. Then reaching out to see what they think.
I first met Jorge when he was made the leader of a new division within a major utility company. This was a big step up for him into a major leadership role. He had a massive amount of pressure on him to get things right. He was anxious about finding the right people. Without them success would be impossible.
It was a £3/4b investment into sustainable energy services for businesses. The problem was that this had been a rather traditional business area. This was not the cutting-edge business that he needed to establish. He needed someone to help him with marketing. Ideally from a cutting-edge industry. So we emphasised the powerful business sales force and relationships that the organisation had.
We spent several weeks looking into the traditional industry. We also looked into cutting-edge B2B service industries such as Telecoms and IT. We identified and approached the senior marketing people. We had a good level of response from both areas. But the people from the more cutting-edge businesses had the personal qualities he was looking for. And crucially, they saw the opportunity as an attractive one.
He was delighted, he had a group of excellent people to interview and compare. He understood the market. This gave him the confidence to choose someone from outside the traditional industry. He decided upon a marketing executive from a major mobile telecoms provider. He knew he would deliver the fresh approach he needed.
With such a strong person in place Jorge was able to meet the expectations of him as a new leader. He could rest assured. Without a deep understanding of the market, Jorge would never have found this person. And the candidate would never have thought of applying for this job if we hadn’t reached out to him. The first stage of the process is to uncover all the places the best person might be found and reach out to them.
They don’t know how to sell the opportunity
To get the right people you first need to get them to talk to you. You could send them an email or call. But what would you say? “I’m looking for someone to join my team, could you be interested? I can send you a job description and a link to our website.” This will get their initial interest. But then you need to sell it to them.
This is mainly a process of answering their questions. What would it be like working with you? What are you trying to achieve and why? How likely is it that you will? What sort of person and skills do you want or need? You have all the answers. You just need to personalise them for each person you speak to. Arrange a call. Put yourself in their shoes. Find out what is going to be most attractive to them.
When I first met Alan he had just been appointed to lead a major nuclear decommissioning business. It was his biggest job so far in an industry he knew well. He was under a lot of pressure. He was worried about getting the right people. His own success would depend on them. He needed a team of four operational leaders to run his £multi-billion programmes.
We decided to look outside the industry as well as in it. To make sure we had the best people possible. We identified all the places we might find these people and reached out to them. Then we discussed it with them in detail. Now we understood the market.
This gave Alan the confidence to approach some people he knew from the past. They were in high profile roles. He wasn’t sure whether they would be interested. We explained the challenge that he was facing and this worked. They could see that it was a great opportunity for them.
After six months work we appointed four people, two of whom he knew from the past. People he never thought he would be able to bring on board. He was delighted. He knew how good they were. He knew they would deliver. Now he was confident of success.
The second stage of the process is to deliver the right message to the right people. This message will be different for each sector, company and person. Find out which aspects of the opportunity appeal to which people: your business, its mission, its culture and you as a leader. Often this will change as the discussion develops. As you find out more about the person, the market and even yourself.
They don’t listen to what the market is telling them
This will help you to understand who the right person is for you. And often they will have good ideas about who that may be. You start with some idea of what the best person for you looks like. When this comes into contact with reality, it sometimes has to be revised. Those who are interested are selling themselves to you. Those who are not can give you an impartial view. Listen to what they say and you will get a better idea of who is right for you. So that when you find them, you know you have found what you are looking for.
When I first met Janet she had a massive challenge. She was building a leadership team for the Restoration and Renewal of the Houses of Parliament. This was a major public project and a flagship sustainability project. She was under vast pressure and it was very stressful. She needed to make sure she had a diverse and truly eminent team.
We put together the main board. It was half female with one from an ethnic minority. But when it came to the Chair, we had a problem. Their ideal was a particular high profile man. So we spoke to him and many others like him. One of whom was a less high profile woman. She would tip the balance towards a majority of women on the board.
They still preferred the man but he had reservations. He could see the importance of diversity for the role. And he was not the only one who said this. We had covered the market thoroughly. This gave them the confidence to change their minds. They revised their expectations and offered the job to her instead. She proved to be a great success. Janet was delighted. She felt she had delivered on the challenge of a lifetime.
The third stage of the process is to listen to the market. Potential candidates have crucial insights. Who the best people are for your business and where they may be found. They are experts in the part of the market you are looking at. And they are in a position to give you impartial advice. Listen to what people in the market tell you. Then you will understand who the best people are for you. When you find them, and understand their motivation, closing the deal is easy.
The people you need are out there, just waiting to hear from you!
To do your best you need to have the best people to help you. You need to find out who the best people are. You need to communicate who you are to them. You need to find out who the best fit is by listening, especially the ones who said no.
It’s as easy as that. Wouldn’t it make your life easier and your business more successful if you did this? You would be able to rest easier at night and get more done in the day. You would have more free time to do the other things you love.
I have helped dozens of people like you to do this. You can read more of my blog or receive a copy of my Complete Guide by entering your email. Thank you and good luck!