Stop Poaching and Start Coaching! 5 Steps to Develop Internal Talent

Posted by Jeffrey Meyers on Wed, Nov 09, 2011 @ 07:09 AM

Harvard Business School Prof. Advocates Developing Talent From Within

You might laugh at the thought of being able to hire new employees right now. But there are companies hiring these days, and you will eventually need to replenish or add jobs, too. When the time comes to fill your vacant positions, will you promote from within or hire outside talent? Is your talent management strategy to coach or poach?

In the accompanying video, Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg encourages companies to build trust among their employees and to develop their talent from within. He debunks the myth that superstar performers will shine in any environment and further cites evidence that top performers typically want to stay with their company.

Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg on developing employees from within

If you needed further convincing, an article published in Asian Banking & Finance by the Corporate Executive Board makes a strong case for coaching over poaching with regard to wealth management companies. While industries differ in their talent needs, the process and challenges are generally the same.

Many of the Best Companies to Work For cite their ability to grow their talent from within. They hire their people at an early age, before they’re predisposed to certain ways of doing things, and develop them through the ranks over the course of their careers. As those employees rise within the org chart, they are often required to work in multiple business units, functions, and locations to ensure that their experience is broad enough to see beyond the vantage point from where they started in the company.

It’s Okay To Poach Employees From Your Competitors When…

1. You’re in growth mode. If you’re lucky enough to expand your business and hire, then by all means, go after talent from your competitors. If you need a mixture of novice and experienced workers to staff a new function or operation in your business, then it might make sense to lure away your competitors’ employees. But don’t take shortcuts and ignore sound hiring decisions based on assessments for your jobs.

2. There’s a “heavy hitter” superstar on the market. Pursue them, but carefully. You still need to ensure that they fit your culture, so don’t just go by their outstanding resume and credentials, but conduct an honest pre-hire assessment. Also, beware of your own employees who may feel slighted by your outside hire. If they saw themselves in the running for the open position, their feathers will likely be ruffled. If you want to unruffle them and keep that person, talk to them and let them know why you went outside and what they can do to remain a viable candidate for future opportunities.

And don’t forget that many superstars whom you might attract will likely be bound to a non-compete clause for a defined period, meaning that you can’t expect to draw their clients with them – at least not until the non-compete period passes.

5 Steps To Develop Your Employees From Within

If you find that your first instinct is to fill your open positions by stealing from your competitors, then you should take steps to develop a more strategic talent management program that’s ultimately focused on coaching, not poaching.

1. Know what roles you need in your organization.

Know what roles you need in order to deliver the best product or service at the optimal cost. Make sure you have the right people in the best roles that match their skills and abilities. And be careful to balance the number of employees you have with the workload. America’s Most Productive Companies know how to operate with the optimum number of employees to get the job done; they’re not over- or understaffed.

2. Identify your top performers.

Who are the best performers in each of your critical roles? What makes them better than their peers? These people not only form the benchmark group for assessing future candidates, but they are also most likely to be in contention for new opportunities when they arise in your organization. They could also leave you most vulnerable if they leave. Stay close to this group not only to monitor their continued success, but to ensure that they’re content and engaged.

3. Manage your succession planning.

Examine the critical roles across your operations. Consider who may retire, who may want to leave, and who you might move into other positions. With an organization of even modest size, let alone a large multinational corporation, your talent is moving and shifting with great frequency. Surprise transitions can happen, but they should be the exception, not the norm. While you’re at it, don’t just look at your most senior positions; it isn’t only executives who can leave a considerable void in your org chart. Rather, continue the exercise down through the organization until you’re confident that your bases – and critical jobs – are covered in the event of a vacancy.

4. Develop your people.

When companies need to slash budgets and restrict funding, one of the first things to go is training and development. That might be prudent in the short term, but if you want to invest in your people in order to enhance their skills and keep them happy, then find ways to continue their development. Not only should their newly developed skills and behaviors improve their performance, but it should also demonstrate that you care enough about their future to invest in them now.

5. Coach your managers and employees.

Following through on formal development plans is important, but the glue that holds it all together is coaching. Training can be done by someone from HR or even outsourced to an external course provider. But a manager who coaches his staff spends time with those individuals, helping to improve their work and their understanding of the business. Creating a coaching culture between your managers and their employees will build the trust that Professor Groysberg discussed in the video and affirm that you’ve committed to developing from within and not buying from outside.

If you would like to help your managers improve their ability to coach, motivate, retain and develop their people, we suggest you test drive our Profiles Performance Indicator assessment - 100% risk free.


Topics: Management, Assessments