Finding and Engaging Talent (Part 2) – A Lesson from Starwars

This article continues on and talks about the final 2 steps to consider when finding and engaging the people for your business. The the first part of this subject we looked at what Jim Collins meant when he talked about “Getting the right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats, doing the right things right”. In the previous article we covered off the first three points 1) Getting the right people, 2) Sitting in the right seats, 3) Doing the right things now we will look at the last part “doing things right” and also look at what we call our Virtual Bench.

Doing things right: With your employees focused in the right areas how do they know they are successful, what are the outcomes we require from each of those accountabilities to ensure the business thrives? In a Job Balance Scorecard each functions accountabilities and outcomes are clearly laid out. The outcomes are highly measurable setting very real expectations for the person who will fill that function. It will excite those that can do it and scare away those who cannot, but more importantly it will allow the person in the role to really measure how successful their day/week/month/year has been. If Count Dooku had to build 1 million clones for his army he knew he was successful (he built 1.2m), if Darth Vader was measured by helping eradicate the Jedi he would have known he was succesful (all par Yoda), leaving them unoppossed until Luke Skywalker became old enough! The key here is if you are going to ensure your employees stay highly engaged then they need to know how they are doing at any given time, giving them the ability to measure their own performance relevant to where the company is going is crucial. If you asked your employees today ” how do you know if you have been successful in your role today” would they be able to answer that question confidently?

Virtual Bench: In New Zealand finding the right talent is getting harder and harder in many industries, there just isn’t the numbers of people in the country to supply some industries with the right level of talent. From chefs, to doctors, builders to engineers there is a huge shortage. So where do we find the people when we need them to advance our business? You need to create a virtual bench, a shortlist of people, preferably 2-3 for every key function in the business. It’s a bit like having a subs bench for a rugby team, they always have around 6 players sitting on the bench in the off chance that someone gets injured or has a particularly bad game. In business we just can’t afford to do that so we adapt by creating a virtual bench. There are 3 key things to do to manage your virtual bench:

  1. Indentify the key positions, if you haven’t already, create a job balanced scorecard for them so you know what you are looking for.
  2. Keep your eyes and ears open and start paying attention to the people in your networks, if you have a mangement team discuss with them so you can extend your networks to include theirs too. Start identifying potential candidates and create a list which should be reviewed quarterly.
  3. Build a relationship with those on your virtual bench. Have a coffee with them, find out more abut them, their hobbies and interests, their families even their career goals but all this is done in a VERY casual manner. It may take several casual conversations to build a real picture of what drives those candidates and for you to assess how well you think they fit.

If we refer back to our story in Starwars Emperor Palpatine had Anikin Skywalker on his virtual bench for many years, watching him from a distance, having those conversations to figure out what motivates him and then (in this case) strike at his biggest weakness at the right time to turn him. Of course in business we don’t wait until our candidates are down quite the opposite, we head hunt them when our business is ready for them. Do you have a virtual bench for your key positions in your business, how are you going to find your next star employee?