Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Are You "Poachable"? (A Work-Related Post)

Doesn't this look good?
Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon
& a Poached Egg (
A healthy company will practice the "right people on the bus" methodology, examining its current employees' potential to fit positions that come open. "Do we have the right people on the bus, and are they in the right seats?"

This practice, however, takes effort. The HR department must really understand the position they're recruiting for, employees must be permitted to thoughtfully consider other opportunities within the organization and leaders must be aware of the strength of their peers' "benches." Oh, and there must be a culture that says "poaching" is not only OK, but a good thing.

If your recruiting efforts are always focused outside (and you're not a startup that's growing like a weed) that may signify a problem with your organization: you may have a bus full of the wrong people, you may be relying too heavily on your recruiting team, your leaders may not have a great understanding of what happens outside their own silos or a desire to protect it at all costs, even to the detriment of the greater whole.

How can you grow a culture of poaching? It starts with an emphasis on the individual - this investment in each individual employee creates an environment where people stay not because it's easy but because they can't imagine going anywhere else. It's an environment that says "we believe in you, we trust in you, we want you to succeed" - an environment that makes sure staff are trained, are allowed the time to stay current in their fields of expertise (and has mechanisms to make sure they really are) and makes sure that they are empowered and equipped to be successful. And just as important, does not have goals that conflict with that of their team, group, department, division or the organization.

[Make it a place where] people stay not because it's easy but because they can't imagine going anywhere else.

Second, a natural progression exists. For every job, at least one clear career path exists. We can't all be CEO, but each employee should be aware of the next steps they could be taking and what's expected of them to reach that next step. There's something to be said about being good at what you do and being happy where you are, but if you're not growing, you're dying. If you stay at the same level too long, the number-crunchers will eventually question whether a more junior person could do the same job for less money. Even for the jobs that seem to be primarily about individual contributions, someone who has become an expert in their field can produce additional value by shepherding a small team of contributors while strengthening their own skills in leadership.

Third, establish a "feeder." A feeder is a great way to identify new talent, typically at a junior level, who can hit the ground running. Many companies invite interns to join them for the summer to provide work experience, but it's also a great way to do on-the-job interviews. Even if they have to go back to school, you can identify those diamonds early and spend the school year getting their job ready. Other feeders include franchisees, call centers, retail employees and in some cases, maybe even some of your fans who are out there doing marketing for you for free already.

The most important thing to remember, however, is that it applies at the individual level, regardless of the company culture. As you interact with other departments, what will they remember about you? Do you get things done? Are you passionate about the organization and its mission? Will they remember your intelligence, your eagerness to find solutions that benefit everyone? Or will they remember that you raised the shields and tried to defend your turf and its goals? Did you put up roadblocks or tell people why it couldn't be done? Did you remind them of past failures? Did you exhibit suspicion and mistrust? Every interaction with a co-worker is a soft job interview. Be positive, be solutions-oriented, be passionate. In short, be remarkable. Make it so that when they have a job opening the first thing they think is "Boy, it would be awesome to get [your name here] to come over to our team and do this for us."

In short, be remarkable.

So... are you "poachable?" If not, no better time to start than today.
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