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Small Business Digest


The Trouble With HR Is It Can't Keep Good People

Anticipating a client’s changing needs...thinking outside of the box...adapting to a global environment.... These are required skills for any business that strives to stay one step ahead of its competitors.

Yet business leaders tend to overlook the one skill at the foundation of every company’s ability to build and maintain strong customer relationships, devise innovative products or services, and compete and prosper in a global marketplace.

That fundamental skill is recruiting and retaining the right people.

“To realize the full potential of your organization, you need to put the right people in the right jobs, at every level, and then develop them to their maximum,” says Johnny C. Taylor Jr., a nationally recognized authority in the field of human-resource management.

In The Trouble With HR: An Insider’s Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People (AMACOM;2009), Taylor presents a different approach to hiring than the standard quick-fix efforts that focus on filling a vacancy — and usually wind up wasting a company’s time, effort and money. In his view, since recruitment and retention are naturally compatible and equally important, business leaders and their hiring managers should be concentrating on the life cycle of an employee’s stay at the company.

As Taylor makes clear, identifying a new employee who will most likely remain in a job for several years and then move up rather than out requires both a holistic outlook and a strategic game plan. For starters, that means assessing candidates on their personal qualities and cultural fit as well as on their professional credentials and technical capabilities. As Taylor stresses to everyone seeking to avoid the high costs and toll of turnover: “Developing a ‘people competency’ in your organization is critical to your success.”

That advice applies equally to startup entrepreneurs and small-business owners, directors of nonprofit and governmental agencies, and senior executives at Fortune 500 multinationals.

The book provides step-by-step strategies for attracting and hanging on to top talent, including how to:

* Take advantage of an in-house HR department’s resources, from performance reviews to exit interviews, and its people-savvy specialists.

* Assess qualified candidates on their alignment with a company’s core values, such as integrity and customer engagement, and general work style.

* Develop a hiring competitive edge by knowing what competitors are doing to attract talented people — and countering their strengths.

* Secure the loyalty of top performers by making them fall in love with the company — through cultivating esprit de corps and recognizing every employee’s contributions.

* Provide ongoing training to improve every employee’s skills on his or her current job and actively develop the people who stand out for their leadership potential.

“Holding on to your talented staff will become increasingly significant as baby boomers retire and the difficulty replacing them intensifies,” Taylor says.

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