The Talent Series IV: The Talent War

This series seems to get more relevant by the day. On Thursday, the European Leaders Network published The War for Procurement Talent where they noted that you need the right environment to attract and retain the highest calibre procurement talent. After all, talented people tend to make above average contributions to any organisation; every good business has talented and motivated people at its heart.

According to the article, the best way to attract talented individuals is to ensure that the purchasing challenge presented to the candidates is BIG and NEW. Great talent is drawn to the opportunity to work on big things and to apply new thinking. Furthermore, it states that the best way to keep them is to ensure your business has the capacity to change. Talented people need to be successful, and change creates the opportunities that talented people can exploit in pursuit of success.

However, as the article points out, not every category is big or wrought with the opportunity to change the business. So how do you attract talent to these categories? One possibility is to hire recent graduates. A recent article in Canadian Business (Sep 11 – 24, 2006 print edition) by the title of “Hire Education” offers some good advice in this area.

The article, which discussed the results of a survey of 30,000 students from 143 post-secondary institutions across Canada, jointly conducted by Toronto based Brainstorm and D-Code to guide recruiters on what the new crop of employees want found that the number one attribute young people value most when considering employment is opportunity for advancement. Since they will be starting at the bottom of the pyramid, if you have a decent size organization, you can offer them lots of opportunity for advancement – or at least change – by rotating them through different categories to broaden their skills and bring a fresh view. In addition, the number two and three attributes were good people to work with and good people to report to. So build a good team, and talent will be attracted to you.

As you have probably guessed from my recent posts, I more or less agree with these statements. Opportunity attracts, while the capacity for change and advancement retains, but, as I’m quick to point out, only if the compensation is fair and balanced. Otherwise, they’ll probably be attracted to the bigger carrot on the shinier stick held out by your competitor.