How To Find And Retain Employees

Human Resource Management System

There is no shortage of quotes about success in business… “A vision without a strategy remains an illusion.” … “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” … “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” The list goes on and each has merit. Yet none of them work without talented people. It is the people you hire who ultimately determine the success of your strategy, culture, marketing, innovation, and all else you do.  And while they’re in short supply, they’re the ones driving the success of today’s top companies.

Surprisingly, our ability to identify talent continues to be less than sufficient. A 1998 study found that traditional interviews only have 50% accuracy. Things haven’t gotten better since then. In the book The Empowered Candidate, the author reports on a recent study by Gallup that found when interviewing for management positions, we make the wrong hiring decision 82% of the time.

Attracting and keeping outstanding managers starts with one clear prerequisite. Warren Buffett explains: “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity.” Take a hint as to which of the three Buffett prioritizes first. In his own words, “If they don’t have [integrity], the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.” Without integrity, intelligence, drive, energy will only get you so far. Hiring without it is also a big business risk.

What goes into attracting, retaining, and managing human resource talent? To begin, it should be little surprise that talented individuals won’t be swayed by conventional, cookie-cutter acquisition and retention efforts. They have endless choices, and they know it.  To land talent, it starts with reimagining or (to use an overused word) pivot the traditional approach.

Attracting top talent

What brings top talent to any company is often what keeps them there, which means attraction and attention are intertwined. The classic “About Our Company” website blurb no longer gets the job done. Company-wide trivia night, free lunches, happy hours, and 3 weeks of PTO are all great things — but they’re expected at this point.

Most importantly, get to know your candidates and understand what is most important to them. With this information, craft a custom offer that meets or at least nods to their lifestyle and personal needs, state the authors.

Retaining top talent

With a smart acquisition strategy and a bespoke approach, let’s say you land a few talented recruits. How do you keep them happy? While not every company can afford expensive, flashy perks, everyone can get creative. In the world of Covid-19, this could be any number of things — from food delivery credits, to highly flexible remote work policies, to newly-revised health benefits, to coaching. When the world around us changes dramatically, so too should the way we think about retaining talent.

Talk to your employees. Listen to them. Give top talent what they need on a personalized level. Because if you don’t, the next leading company will.

Managing top talent

The authors believe that top talent must be managed as top talent. That is, you must embrace the role of a “top manager” to get it right. Here’s a shortlist of suggestions they propose for managing like a pro:

  • Feedback: Top talent is amazing at what they do, but part of being talented is always remaining curious and open to feedback. Fostering a culture of open feedback is a must.
  • Flexibility: With top talent, the job is going to get done. How exactly it gets done (when and where) should be of minimal concern for top managers. Focus should be more on results, less on process.
  • Check in on needs: Meeting the bespoke needs of your talent doesn’t stop at the job negotiation phase. The best managers check in frequently to make sure their team has everything they want and need.
  • Steer clear of the Sabotage Impulse: There exist two types of impulses in employees and contractors: the Sabotage Impulse or the Success Impulse. Those with the Sabotage Impulse deflect blame, ignore critical feedback, and operate solely with self-interest. Those with the Success Impulse are always curious, open to learning, and focused on lifting the team up. Those with the Sabotage Impulse must be let go. And for those who exist somewhere in the middle of the continuum, great managers guide them towards the Success Impulse.
  • And now, the authors’ ultimate tip. More important than all else…TRUST! Hire talent that you believe you’ll be able to trust. And as a manager, continually check in on that instinct. Do you trust your team? Your employees? Your contractors?

This new approach to management is still rippling through various industries. The bottom line, according to the authors: The power has shifted, and as the world’s most innovative companies have figured out, effective management requires much more give-and-take.

Final thoughts

What makes smart companies “smart” and able to attract, retain, and manage top talent is quite simple. They have all broken away from decades-long norms. It’s simply a matter of creativity, hustle, and innovation. Even just the concept of embracing a “bespoke approach” is new for many industries. Some companies are doing a great job, listening to top candidates, ditching cookie-cutter offers, and getting creative with their perks. To those companies that have not yet embraced the paradigm shift, there’s no better time to start. Signup for a free personalized mentoring session at

For more thoughts, search the Library for the key word “hiring”.

Copyright ©John Trenary 2021

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