Winning the War for Talent

I recently attended a CEO Symposium in Dallas, TX. The focus of the half-day session was winning the war for talent. If you don’t live here, Dallas is a highly competitive and tight labor market in many different industry sectors and functions.

Earlier this year the Dallas newspaper wrote a story about how some housing contractors are going bankrupt because their crews are being poached on-site! I’ve heard of many out of the box ideas about recruiting, but I have NEVER heard of a poaching on site recruiting strategy. Brilliant for the people who are doing it and scary for the companies it’s happening too.

The national unemployment average is hovering around 4.4%, and the Dallas unemployment average is hovering around 4.0% as of early 2017.

One company really stood out at the symposium for what they are doing to ensure they are getting the employees who are right for them. That company is “Improving.” Improving started as a technology training company in 2007. Currently Improving has 310 employees and has grown by hiring directly and by acquiring other similar companies across the U.S. and Canada.

If you look at the Improving website you see that this is not your typical, IT, training, consulting firm. The very first thing that pops up is their ‘Why’ – “Trust changes everything.” Trust of employees, trust of clients, trust of each other – in everything and every day whether they are in the office, working with a client or having a difficult discussion with an employee or other executive.

The President, David O’Hara talked about how the culture of the organization is very important when hiring directly or acquiring another company. I wanted to know how a company can keep its strong culture when acquiring a whole other company and win the war for talent? This is what David had to say:

1.   Screen for culture fit – whether you are hiring an employee or trying to acquire another organization. They use some general guidelines such as, does the person have the right technical skills for our organization? What are their values (motivators) do these mesh with our culture? And the ever popular, “Could I go out and have a drink with this person and enjoy their company? Or “Could I be stuck on an airplane with this person and still want to have dinner with them after the flight?”

  a. Improving also uses the DISC  assessment to put teams together. They want to ensure that every team has diverse
thinking and they are covering all the bases when trying to solve a client’s challenges. (DISC team report)

2.   Grow it – don’t just stalk it – Improving has a Leadership program that each Manager and Director level employee participates in. They have developed their own internal career and personal development system called ‘Improving U.’ This ensures they have a pipeline of leaders when there is a need. They promote from within when possible for leadership roles. They included a financial component to Improving U, so people understand how to manage their own finances as well as manage budgets when they move up to a leadership role.

3.   Create by not competing – Improving set up an on-site office at A&M University for internships and new graduates. Students from A&M can intern or work right on campus working on various projects with managers and other executives from Improving. Think of this as something akin to offshoring without sending your business offshore. It’s part of Improving’s “blue ocean strategy” of competing by changing the equation.

4.   Use different methods to measure your People Strategy – Culture does not show up on your balance sheet, but it DOES show up somewhere such as how engaged employees are. Your cost of turnover can become lower and the truth of what each person lives inside the company every day adds to the bottom line. Make sure you are practicing ‘Management by walking around.’ You don’t know what’s happening on the ground if you are in your office all day.

It’s fair to say that Improving has an impressive organization. They’ve done the hard work to set the foundation for a good culture and put processes in place that will support the organization as they grow.

If you’re not sure where to start when building a hiring strategy that supports your culture, drop us a note to schedule a complementary consultation. We help companies everyday make better hiring decisions and develop and retain the right people. We’d be delighted to help you too!