Our number one priority.
I have been on business development meetings all week with one of my consultants here in Shanghai. We have seen quite a few clients and potential clients from the Fortune 500 and I have come to the conclusion that in race to hire the best there are a pretty good number of turtles and too few hares. I wrote a book review for the American Chamber of Commerce’s monthly publication, Insight, of Ed Cohen’s new book Leadership Without Borders (Wiley and Sons.) I mention this because it is the latest article/book I have read that tells me that we are in a global struggle for talent and that “recruiting, retaining, and managing personnel is more important than it was historically.” We are also told that The Economist reported that “62% of all senior human resource managers worry about company-wide talent shortages,” and that “Three-quarters of them made attracting and retaining talent their number one priority.” I am skeptical that it is really their number one priority. The way I see things shaping up in China we are faced with several challenges in finding and getting top talent hired into the companies that need them. The majority of companies I speak with are not having as much trouble finding the talent that they need as they are having trouble affording it. (I have taught the phrase “internal equity” to four people this week.) We spoke to several firms this week who told us they are getting candidates that match their JD’s but they can’t afford them (and can we do any better?) This is a growing problem that many large firms are having a hard time adjusting to. I see a lot of openings that will go unfilled as the candidates who are qualified are already earning more than the positions are paying. The answer to this is not more recruiting though; it is engaging the hiring managers in some frank discussions about what the “right” candidate really looks like. I have run into some similar situations in the past and have found that when the hiring managers are really brought in on the case they will be willing to be flexible in certain areas and often end up with some great, affordable, talent. The key is having recruiters (internal) who know the market and the positions for which they are recruiting. This will allow the recruiters (internal) to engage outside search professionals as partners rather than vendors. Companies will be rewarded by candidates who are able to do the job and fit the budget. Too often in China I come across internal recruiters who are only looking for “more resumes.” These recruiters are usually most comfortable with local agencies that act as resume brokers and add little value to the process. When hiring becomes a priority to these companies they will have professionals with experience in the industry take a hard look at their salaries, job descriptions, and recruiting methods. When hiring is a top priority we will see more senior managers take an interest in recruiting rather than handing this task down the line to the least senior of all HR staff. We will also see improvements when recruiting and retention is a KPI of managers, but don’t get me started…..