I recently had the opportunity to speak with several leaders of local start-ups here in Madison. Each is at a different phase with their respective organizations, but all are prescient enough to understand the challenges on their individual horizons. And for most, the ultimate goal – growth – means needing to take a look at some of the fundamental human resource approaches.
[Trevor enters stage left.]
Regularly, I’m approached by small business owners looking at the (hopeful) upcoming growth curve in their organizations. Thanks to this blog, my LinkedIn profile, and a very active network, it’s fairly easy for these leaders to seek me out. They know my views on traditional HR and the corporate tendencies toward policies that breed mediocrity. My views are a good fit for what they are seeking…innovative ways to maximize the talents in the workforce to make the meteoric leap to success.
“What are you really trying to develop here?” I always ask.
Now, all organizations (or at least those who are truly seeking top talent) need to be willing to pay a little for that talent. But it doesn’t have to be as much as one might think. Often, a decent salary that’s at least approaching the median compensation value for a similar job elsewhere is a good starting place…but it’s JUST the starting point. Sign-on bonuses, profit-sharing, and/or a truly well-designed bonus system are also helpful, as are genuine commitments to helping the employees grow in whatever direction will fulfill them personally in their career direction (Yes, even if that means knowing that you’ll possibly lose them down the road).
Remember, when you hire someone, you’re only leasing their commitment. Too many organizations assume they are buying talent, and they certainly might be. But, a “bought talent” situation is one in which employees are commoditized and, at best, mediocre in talent, innovation, and productivity.
Anyway, as a result of our session, three of these start-ups put together really awesome strategies for finding, landing, and developing talent moving forward. The fourth opted for a more traditional route, his decision influenced more by the successes of his father, a retired insurance executive.
Now, I can’t predict with certainty which of these four new and exciting companies will survive and thrive. But I can say that, if top talent is truly a priority for these executives, and if that top talent will make or break the future of their companies, three of the four start-up leaders have put themselves on the right track. Their futures are indeed bright, but not because of the specifics of the talent management approach they are implementing. No, they’re bright because their leaders understand that a future predicated on practices of the past may just not be a road to the kind of future that they envision. And they’re not afraid to “mix it up a little” to get to that future.
And for that, I applaud them!