Attracting and retaining top talent, Joe GirardIn your business, people are everything.  You understand how important it is to paint a clear vision to your customers to get them excited about a way forward with you.  But how well are you communicating that vision to your internal staff?  Do they fully understand why they are with you and where they are going? And what about the elusive ideal employee that you are looking for? What are you doing to attract them to you – why would they care?

Do you just put out job postings and hope that “the one” will apply and through your intuition find them in an interview?  Well, to be straight up…that’s stupid.

Today I want to talk about a few of the prevailing ideas that are preventing businesses from attracting and retaining top talent as well as a few things that you can do today to fix it.

Why is it hard to find good people?

I met with a client yesterday who was having a heck of a time finding a new employee. They have an awesome office with great staff, amazing leadership, and tons of potential. And once we get through with their transformation, they will also be a fast-growing organization full of opportunities. But why are they having problems finding the right person?


One of the ideas that floated around is that employees of today’s new generation are a lot different than they used to be. It seemed that everyone in the room was in agreement on the “fact” that employees in today’s generation are just different.

  • They aren’t loyal
  • They’re only after money
  • They don’t stick around and pay their dues
  • They’re only concerned about work/life balance
  • They have a “taker” mentality
  • They don’t really have work values
  • They have a sense of entitlement right out of school

Does that sound right?  Well, in the content, absolutely!  It is easy to see that this is how many organizations feel during their hiring process when they deal with the new generation of worker.

But here’s the thing.  Next to me in the room was a 21 year old girl who was completely engrossed in the discussion we were having and the high level conversation around business strategy.  I just asked her, “Why are YOU here? Is it the money?  Are you sticking around? Or are you thinking this is just a stepping stone?”

She told us that she loves it here, was so excited to be a part of something, is in it for the long haul, and as long as she is fairly compensated, she is happy.

And you know what, there are countless young workers out there who are EXACTLY like her.  The problem is not THEM, it’s you. As an organization, a leader, a boss, what are YOU doing to make your role for someone as attractive as possible?

You bet your ass that today, workers are very suspicious of businesses, have tons of employment options, and are shopping around. Today’s generation has seen their parents struggle for years being loyal to a company, only to have their feet taken out from under them.  They saw the hard work it takes to have a long term career, just to make it by.  You bet they want work/life balance. You are totally right, they feel entitled.

But what you may be missing is that today’s workforce just wants to BELONG to something – to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Work today is so intertwined with our personal brands that employers need to do a phenomenal job of creating a brand and culture that attracts the best people.  The young workers WILL stick around if not only you paint a clear vision, but if you also have a solid plan that they can see themselves part of.

The young girl in this story had a wonderful time in the 4 hour session yesterday learning about business strategy, sales, marketing, and being part of the vision for the next five years for the organization.  She was so overwhelmed by all of the information flying around and told us after that she felt completely lucky to get to experience that session.

Don’t wait for your young workers to be with you for a while.  Get them involved in planning as soon as possible.  Show them the future.  Show them you value them.  Show them you care.  And they WILL stay.  And follow you.

Read my post on bridging the generation gaps for more insight on Gen Y and Baby Boomers working together effectively.


In the same conversation, it was discussed that people today are just about money.  Everyone is concerned about money, sure. And when you are doing interview after interview where people are demanding higher and higher pay, it’s easy to fix in your mind that all they are after is money.  You KNOW they all are just in it for the money.

If you don’t do a good job of painting the right long-term plan, you are totally right that people will try and get as much of your “today money” as they can.

And just like in sales, if you are doing a poor job selling, more and more of your customers will focus on price.  Sooner or later, you will just KNOW that they only care about price.

Employees, just like customers don’t care about money.  They care about perceived value.What is REALLY in it for them? 


Get your mindset right about what people are really looking for. They want to find a job/career that meets their needs.  All of them. If they can’t find a place that they truly believe in, then they will settle for a job, as long as the money’s good.

But, they will also accept a lower wage (as long as it is in their acceptable range) if they feel like the position, the company, and the people, meet the needs of their personal brand.  If, at this point, you think I am full of shit, share this post with your employees and ask them. Or give it to the next person you interview.

Price objections are only in the mind of the seller.  Whether you are a salesperson, or an employer interviewing for a job.

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why so many people volunteer.  Why do we sit on committees, participate in charities, or give some of our services away for free?

Because we believe in something.

Make them believe in what you believe and you will build a long-term business full of the right people.


How do you attract and retain top talent?

 1) Vision

Of course you know you have to have a vision in business. It has been said so many times, that I think people forget what that really means.  It’s not about goals for the business or a statement of where you will be.  Vision is about painting a picture of who you would like to become as a result of the goals and achievements.  Vision is all about getting others to believe in the same things that you do, long-term.

How well can you clearly articulate the vision of your business?  Can you get others to see the values and beliefs that you hold dear both now and in the future?  A strong vision will not only give YOU a clear path to the future, but will resonate with others who see a similar future.

If you have not spent time on crafting a well-thought out and authentic vision, how do you expect to find exceptional talent?


2) Plan

Do you actually have a plan?  Have you put systems in place to help you realize your vision or are you just winging it?  Your plan should be detailed enough and include the individual roles people will play as well as the impact they will make on the vision.  Who are you really looking for?  If you don’t know 100%, how do you think you will find them?

When we consult and teach systemic management, we abolish the ideas of hierarchies and embrace the complexity and interdependencies in organizations.  We identify how every single person plays a pivotal role in the value chain that is your organization.  The sooner you switch to that kind of a mindset, the faster you will get clarity on the ideal team member.

Read John Maxwell’s book, Winning with People for some amazing insights on leadership and areas to work on.  A very simple concept that I pulled from the book is investing in others. You should think about investing in your employees lives in three areas:

  1. Valuables: the things that provide financial worth. 
  2. Values: the things that bring fulfillment. 
  3. Virtues: the things that develop character.

In your plan for the future, have you identified the areas where you will make an impact on the lives of your employees?  Or are you a “taker” and just expect them to do things for you?

When you start thinking systemically how everyone is important and how you can help them grow first, you will set the stage for massive, long-term success. Your plan should include a long-term strategy for individuals too – not just for the business. You never want top talent to be unsure of their future.  They have options.  And the best will be sought out.  Will they say no to other offers, or go and “check them out?”

3) Communication

Once you have figured out your vision and plan, it is time to share with the world what you are trying to do!  Find ways to spread the word and get people to understand exactly WHO you are looking for.  Not just skills, but belief, attitudes, and behaviors.

  • Press releases
  • Marketing messages
  • Web site
  • Job postings
  • Networking
  • Referrals
  • Social media
  • Your internal staff and stakeholders

There are unlimited ways to put the word out.  And people will be excited to see what the buzz is all about.  Are you ready to actually deliver on your promises?

Let everyone around you know your vision.  Get them excited.  Share your plan.

Don’t seek.  Attract.

Now, all of this is well and good, but one key element to this conversation is the scarcity of rare people.  If you are truly looking for top talent, it wont be easy.

And just like life, your business should embrace the law of attraction.  To get the most attractive people in your life, you must be as attractive as possible.  Authentic, energetic, and visionary.  They will come.

And don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of useless people you will come across.  This process will attract all kinds.  But you have a much better chance of finding those rare gems if you follow the steps above.

Re-think the job posting

In your job postings, don’t just make them about skills. Most businesses have bold marketing statements and proclaim what they will do for their customers, but when it comes to the job posting, they don’t have the same energy.  How do you expect to deliver on the promises to your customers when you aren’t even trying to select the right people?

Use your job posting as a way to share your vision and plan, and also to put a challenge out to people who apply.  Even something subtle such as “in your cover letter, include your favorite animal in the subject line.” Right away, you eliminate those who don’t pay attention.

Take it one step further and use the job posting and interview as a tryout  for the job. Put a current challenge in the posting and ask those who apply to come up with creative ways to solve it.  Even for your entry level positions, you will be surprised at the calibre of responses and ideas you get!  And, you will also get a ton of new ideas for your business for free!

What about getting them to send in a video? Get creative.

You will also identify high potentials as well as those who are prone to making excuses.  And some will even self-select themselves out of the process.  When they come to interview, you will be miles ahead in your relationships and can then engage in meaningful dialogue.

Oh, and if you think you are one of these rare people looking for jobs like this, you better start preparing WAY before the job becomes available.  And set your intentions when you apply.

As you can see, all of this is geared towards looking at the ways we should be attracting and retaining top talent. If you want to be a special business, you need to have special people.  And it doesn’t happen by chance.

Did I miss anything?  Would love to hear your comments below!

Joe Girard
Follow me!

    1 Response to "Attracting and Retaining Top Talent: They’re out There."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.