Engagement Practice _ 9: Make a Strong Commitment to the Continuous Upgrading of Talent

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The best employers do not have a cavalier, seat-of-the-pants approach to

recruiting and interviewing. Instead they have a serious and resolute mindset

about talent that begins with a fundamental belief that the organization’s

future depends on getting and keeping the right people in the right jobs.

This means they leave little to chance.

Most companies do not take such a determined and proactive approach

to the acquisition of talent. In fact, in a McKinsey survey of corporate

executives, only 8 percent agreed with the statement, ‘‘Our company is

always looking for talented people, even if we are not trying to fill a specific

position.’’5 In a war for talent, this is the mentality that is needed among all

managers and executives.

It usually begins with a CEO who is driven to create an intense focus

on strengthening talent levels across the organization. The CEO makes it

clear that this is the top priority of every manager and typically insists that

every manager not delegate hiring. This means that the hiring process is

owned by the hiring managers, not by human resources, which operates as

a key resource and full partner to support the hiring managers.

The Hartford: Managers as Talent Scouts

Like most companies, The Hartford used to depend on classified advertising

and headhunters to fill positions. Gradually, they realized

they were spending too much valuable time and money screening

candidates. Vice president of human resources, John Madigan, had

been receiving referrals from managers for years, but the company

had not been making the most of the referral information.

Madigan hired a researcher to identify and evaluate each previously

referred candidate as well as those that had been identified

through other sources. He then promised managers that all their referrals

would be thoroughly checked out and stored in a referral database.

When managers refer candidates, they are contacted and invited

in for an interview, after which their data is added to the database.

When an appropriate job becomes available, the right candidate can

be much more quickly identified.

As a result of creating the candidate tracking system, managers

feel better about putting their energies into scouting talent instead

of screening. The Hartford also lowered its recruiting expenses and

Madigan believes it has also increased retention. ‘‘These people have

been courted and there is a familiarity,’’ he said. ‘‘And since they

didn’t knock on the door to begin with, when they make the decision

it is because the fit is right.’’6