War for talent: learn from love in a tight job market

Axel Schiphof

What can business learn from love? My girlfriend and I bring out the best in each other. We have a lot in common and have mutual interests, but she has qualities I don’t, and vice versa. This is why we work so well together. Our relationship is balanced, and we complement each other in the best of ways.

War for talent: learn from love in a tight job market

Any organization worth its weight in salt is ambitious: we want to be the best at whatever we’re selling. That’s why we aim to hire the best people to help get us there. But when you add complicating factors like economic growth, globalization and the war for top talent, it’s not that black and white.

What is best?

In fact, I see more organizations competing not only on products and services, but also on winning over the best people.

The problem lies in defining who the “best people” are. Truth is, anyone can learn skills, anyone can become an expert. The key is to find candidates who will push your organization to the next level.

As simple as it sounds, teamwork is the foundation of any successful organization, whatever you’re selling. And everyone knows that teams, or bringing together people in any way, can be tricky to get right.

Characters come into play as well as personal likes and dislikes, shared interests and opposing views; all of this affects a team’s performance regardless of how good these individuals are at their jobs. Odds are that as you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking of colleagues you get along with better than others. And in all honesty, doesn’t that affect how you work with them?

I am not saying you should hire only the same kinds of people. Not at all. It’s time to do something we should have been doing for a long time already: hire not just for competence but for variation, diversity and the ability to contribute to your company culture in a complementary way, not simply a “fits-the-mould” way.

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Try a different approach

A relationship between two very similar people is likely to be an easy one, but will they challenge each other to grow, adapt and learn? In the workplace, diversity may be uncomfortable, but that is exactly what is needed for organizations to grow.

So when you’re looking for new employees to be part of reaching your greatest ambitions,  here are some steps to think about:

  • Ensure everyone knows and understand what your organization stands for, not just as single teams but as a collective. Knowing the bigger picture can help everyone to step out of their comfort zone to reach greater goals.
  • Just as important, ask yourself: how does what you are relate to what you want to be as an organization?
  • Map out who you have in your teams already and what kinds of people you are missing. Use whatever personality test you prefer as a starting point (not as the be-all and end-all – nobody’s comfortable in a pigeon hole). Have a trainer facilitate the meeting in which you discuss the outcomes.
  • Make sure your prospective candidates take the same test in the application process.
  • Dedicate at least one conversation in this process to fit (not competence), using the personality test as a starting point.
  • Make sure prospective candidates speak to various team members in various positions, and of course, diverse personalities. You’ll learn a lot more about candidates this way, too.

Once you become more aware of who you are as an organization, find out what kinds of people would really add fresh perspectives to your organization. It won’t always work. But if you’re looking for new ways to be innovative, hopefully, you and your new hire(s) might just find that like my girlfriend and I, you bring out the best in each other.