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No Needle, No Haystack

20 Jan

Another lunch last week produced this conversation: A good friend was working with a company that was having difficulty hiring for a certain role, a challenge that had plagued them for years. They asked my friend to think about ways they could expand their talent pool for this particular job.

It became clear to him that the company was looking for people with a unique set of qualifications that didn’t really exist, at least not in the quantity this company needed to sustain their growth. Rather than help them expand their talent pool for this role he helped them re-scope the job! By taking away some responsibilities that could be done by others and increasing the span of control of the position, they actually expanded the pool of potential candidates for the redesigned role.

Are you looking for a needle in a haystack? What roles in your company are you having difficulty sourcing, and would a job redesign increase your chances of finding the right talent?

The Silver Lining, Part 1

19 Jan

I had lunch last week with an executive at a company that, not unlike the rest of us, is having some challenges conducting business in the current economic conditions. Although typical business indicators are running in the red, he did note one opportunity:

I’ve had a job posting running for a few weeks, and I’m getting more quality candidates that I could have ever imagined– certainly more than I would have had six months ago. I told my boss this may be the silver lining in this economic crisis– our ability to secure talent that we would not have otherwise.”

Indeed, you may have some opportunities like this.

  • Are you ready to take advantage of those opportunities to upgrade your talent?
  • Can you make a strong argument why that talent should join you?
  • If you’re not ready, what can you do in the next five business days to strengthen your brand so that those talented candidates choose you?

How To Destroy Someone

18 Jan

My former boss and mentor Don Clifton frequently told audiences that one way you could destroy a person was to repeatedly ask them to do something for which they have no adequate response in terms of their abilities. That sounds pretty dramatic, but by not putting people into roles that fit their strengths we often do this in the workplace. This fate has sadly befallen me twice in my career, and although I wasn’t destroyed I certainly suffered. One miscast employee laments:

My talents are a mismatch with my job but I cannot change jobs right now. I would be more positive about our company if I could do something here more in line with my abilities.


  • How many employees do you have that are in the wrong job, a “square peg in a round hole”, so to speak?
  • More importantly, how much is the productivity of your company suffering because good people are in jobs that are a poor fit for them?