Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Which Comes First...?

In southeastern Wisconsin, when it comes to employees, it is definitely a “seller's market." At a recent meeting of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce with the leaders of the organizations recognized as the area’s fifty fastest growing small and medium-sized businesses, 63% of these leaders indicated that acquiring and retaining talented employees was their most significant, immediate business problem. In an entry to this blog several days ago, Mary wrote about employee retention and the role that internal communications can play in keeping the talent you already have inside your organization.

If you are a growing business, where do you start – recruitment or retention? Several years ago, we chose to start with defining our vision and values. We then began choosing people to join our firm based upon who best fits these visions and values.

We were rigorous in getting clear about what personal and professional attributes employees need to have in order for the company and its people to thrive. We also became much more serious about parting with employees who didn't share our core values or our passion for growing the business.

As in any social structure, people at SH are more motivated to bring forth the full spectrum of their talents when they trust that every other person in the firm shares a common narrative about interpersonal and professional values, skills, careers, and powerful offers of help – for our clients and for each other.

Sound simple? Hardly! Are we experts? Not a chance. But all of the leaders of our organization are committed to using our culture as a differentiating aspect of our recruitment and retention program. We take our tagline seriously – Differentiate Yourself™. We say our culture is different when compared to other organizations with whom we compete for exceptionally talented people. And, we say that these exceptionally talented people can differentiate themselves, again, personally and professionally, by joining and staying with our team.

If you, too, are interested in taking a similar approach to this tight labor market, check out a company named Pappas DeLaney LLC. Tim Pappas has what I believe to be an extraordinary offer to bring to the table with regard to employee recruitment (and, ultimately, retention). I have had the pleasure of being in a business leaders networking group with Tim for the past five years and I believe, in this domain (and a couple others), he is one of the smartest people I know.

So, which comes first? I have always approached life from the perspective that the egg always comes before the chicken.

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