talent flow

Why, Hire Slow, Fire Fast is Dead Wrong!

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How can you speed up the hiring process while making sure you hire the right person? Bestselling author and Top 30 Global Leadership Guru Dov Baron and I discuss concrete steps you can take in this segment of his award-winning podcast.

 

Scott WintripWhy, Hire Slow, Fire Fast is Dead Wrong!
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5 Common Sense Changes for How You Hire

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It’s been said that common sense isn’t all that common. I was recently reminded of this in a disturbing way.

The people who run Tampa International Airport have installed an innovative device in their bathrooms. It’s called The Pouch. I could immediately see its usefulness. Putting a backpack, briefcase, or other small carryon in this device will keep it clean and dry.

I noticed a sticker affixed to The Pouch. It pictured a baby with the universal “don’t do this” symbol on it. Seriously? People need to be told not to put a baby in there? Does this mean someone actually tried it? Yikes! While this an extreme example, it once again showed me that people don’t always make decisions rooted in common sense.

Common sense is often lacking in many areas of life and work. One is hiring. I frequently observe organizations engaging in hiring practices that defy common sense. Does this mean that the leaders who engage in the methods are bad people? Maybe even dumb? No. Of course not.

The issue is that habits often interfere with our innate instincts. The very instincts that are at the core of common sense decision-making. We get so used to doing something a certain way, we don’t see that there’s an alternative. Frequently, it takes someone pointing out that there’s a better way. Here are five of my most frequently shared common sense hiring ideas I’m sharing with leaders.

Common Sense Change #1:

Recruit ahead instead of react to an open job

Change is inevitable, including that people will change jobs. Your best employees could leave today, tomorrow, or next week. No matter how loyal you believe them to be. Given the immediate, negative impacts of an open job, it no longer makes sense to wait until a job opens to fill it. In today fast-paced world, common sense dictates that you must line up talent before you need it.

Common Sense Change #2:

Make hiring decisions based upon facts instead of feelings

Most people understand that feelings aren’t facts. Yet, they allow their gut feelings, such as liking someone, to dictate who they hire. Sure, liking a candidate is a good thing. But likeability isn’t proof that someone fits a job. Common sense selection requires having a list of clear criteria that help you pick the right people regardless of what your feelings are telling you.

Common Sense Change #3:

Rely on multiple streams of talent instead of a singular trusted resource

Ask leaders if one resource, such as a job board or referrals, can be relied upon to fill every open job every single time. Most of these leaders will acknowledge it’s dangerous to put all of your eggs in that one basket. However, watch many of these same leaders in action, and you’ll observe contradictory behavior. They rely on that one resource to the exclusion of everything else. Here’s habit in action, trumping common sense. Filling jobs quickly with high-quality talent requires tapping into more than one talent stream.

Common Sense Change #4:

Have candidates show instead of tell

Conventional job interviews are an inaccurate way of determining fit. Why? Both the jobseeker and hiring manager are putting their best selves forward. This gives each party a narrow view of reality. It should be no surprise that many hires fail, given that a decision was made based upon limited information. The common sense way to interview is to seek proof of fit. Having candidates show you they can do the job allows you to experience them in action, while they get to try on the job for size.

Common Sense Change #5:

Change one thing at a time instead of everything at once

How many times have you tried to change many things all at once? I’m betting that didn’t turn out well. Fast change doesn’t stick. It takes time to adjust your routines and change your hiring habits. A rapid series of changes will overwhelm you. When your sense of being overwhelmed reaches a tipping point, you’ll give up and revert back to your previous routine. Better to change one thing at a time and have it stick, than rush the process and have to start all over again.

Access to your common sense is immediately available any time you need it. You just have to get out of your own way. The beauty is the inherent simplicity that comes with it. Common sense solutions are the easiest to employ, once you realize the only thing standing in their way is you.

Scott Wintrip5 Common Sense Changes for How You Hire
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Dear Hiring Manager: An Open Letter

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Dear Hiring Manager,

I understand that you’re busy. Probably more than ever since your company has likely remained lean following the Great Recession. That’s why I’m suggesting you take on an important task. One that may seem counterintuitive. Your company needs your help generating candidate referrals to fill your jobs.

You may be thinking, “This so-called hiring expert has lost his mind. I’ve already got a full calendar and a desk loaded with work.” A recent story about restaurant chain Cracker Barrel demonstrates why helping with referrals is in your best interest.

Cracker Barrel is known for it’s innovative marketing approaches. One of these has included managers picking random people from the local phonebook and inviting them to a new Cracker Barrel for a home-cooked meal on the house. As the company puts it, “Two weeks later, business picked up. All over town, people were talking about the new restaurant near the interstate and the manager who was calling people to invite them over for dinner.” 

So, how does this Cracker Barrel example relate to generating job candidate referrals? Being invited by a restaurant manager for a free meal is a welcome surprise. Being contacted about career opportunities is a welcome surprise and an ego boost. When you personally reach out to a potential job candidate, you’re sending a message. You’re saying, “You matter. I value you and your background.” You’re also showing people that your company and leadership style are different and attractive.

Why is this important? You have tremendous power. You have a network of colleagues who may fit current (or future) job openings. This same group of contacts can introduce you to dozens of additional people who could also fit your hiring needs.

Now, you may be thinking, “Our corporate recruiter or someone in HR could do this just as easily as I can.” No offense to them, but they cannot. You have something they don’t—shared experience. You have much in common with that prospective job candidate. You talk their talk and understand what they go through each day. This gives you immediate credibility and helps engender trust. A recruiter or HR can help you move things forward following your initial dialogue with someone. But only after you’ve built rapport and captured the candidate’s interest.

Generating referrals now, even if you don’t have any open jobs, will save you time. This part may seem surprising. However, think about what happens when a job opens. Most managers engage in the old way of hiring—keeping a job open until the right person shows up. That means they have to do their own job, handle or delegate the workload of the open position, and conduct interviews to fill that opening. Is it any wonder so many leaders are exhausted and overwhelmed?

When you engage in the new way of hiring—cultivating talented people and waiting for the right job to show up—the exhaustion and overwhelm go away. Spending 20 minutes a week reaching out to talented people helps keep hiring manageable.

So, help your company help you. Set aside a small chunk of time weekly to cultivate referrals. Use these referrals to line up people before you need them. Engage in the new way of hiring and make hiring delays a thing of the past.

Sincerely yours,

Scott Wintrip

Scott WintripDear Hiring Manager: An Open Letter
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How to Generate 20 Job Candidate Referrals in 20 Minutes

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People are generous. When you ask for their help in the right way, you’ll be amazed at the result. Including when you ask for referrals to top talent. In this video, I walk you through a four-step process that can land you 20 job candidate referrals in just 20 minutes.

Scott WintripHow to Generate 20 Job Candidate Referrals in 20 Minutes
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Using PR to Attract Top Talent

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In movies, we’ve heard about the concept of “force.” Some films use this idea for protection, as in a force field that repels threats. Then there’s the force that’s like a special positive power, helping the good guys overcome the bad ones.

In business, there’s also a positive force. One that’s related to hiring. It’s called candidate gravity. Candidate gravity is the pull your organization has on talent. This pull may be weak, drawing in an insufficient supply of candidates; inconsistent, coming in ebbs and flows; or strong, generating a consistent stream of people. Organizations with strong candidate gravity always draw a stronger flow of top talent their way, leaving second- and third-tier candidates for everyone else. Because so many organizations have a weak or inconsistent pull on high quality people, I’ve dedicated a chapter to this topic in my new book.

How can you improve your candidate gravity? By leveraging often overlooked ways of drawing in candidates. One of those is PR. To help you get starting in using PR for recruitment or to improve your current PR efforts, I turned to a leading expert—Fauzia Burke. Fauzia is the founder and president of FSB Associates. Here’s what she had say on the topic of using PR to attract top talent.

Scott: Why is PR important in today’s competitive marketplace?

Fauzia: I think PR has always been important, but today it also gives you a competitive advantage. In the past the companies with the most money won the image game because they could out-spend the little guys on advertising. PR levels the playing field. If your ideas are better and you are doing good work, you can get the same amount of coverage as a big company. PR helps to build credibility through securing positive media coverage, and a great PR firm will help your company put its best foot forward by getting you in front of the right, influential media. While advertising and content marketing are important, PR is more influential because it provides third party validation and cannot be purchased.

Scott: When properly leveraged, how can a sustained PR campaign attract more top talent?

Fauzia: I like that you are thinking of a sustained PR campaign. Much of the success from PR comes from consistency. Think about it: the first thing most of us do when investigating a new company or person to work with is we “google” it. Hopefully, the top results for your company will be an official website, plus positive press on that valuable first two pages of a Google search result. Along with positive press, you also want to make sure the media is current. A good story from five years ago won’t have the same impact as positive stories every year. You want to make sure your company is presenting itself in the best possible light and appears current.

Scott: What are the steps to get started in incorporating PR into an organization’s recruiting efforts?

Fauzia: Whether you decide to hire an outside PR firm or use staff in-house, obviously your goal is to attract and keep top talent. Think about a plan or strategy to attract the right kind of person. What qualities would they be looking for in a future employer?

Once you have your strategy set, determine who in your organization will serve as your official spokesperson. Just remember good PR is an invitation to prospects to check out your company. Don’t forget to get your house in order first. Evaluate your social media platforms and make sure your content fits your corporate message. Commit to an editorial calendar for social posting and blogging. This may sound like a lot of work, but once you spend some time on the strategy, execution will be much easier.

Scott: One’s one secret people don’t know about writing great PR content?

Fauzia: In my opinion, the best PR content isn’t about “selling” something. It’s about providing helpful information—sometimes information people didn’t even know they needed. When you are seen as an authority in your industry, people will come back to you for thought pieces, opinions and your product and services.

Scott: What’s one closing piece of advice you’d like to share with readers?

Fauzia: PR needs to be a longterm strategy, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. An online brand can take at least 18 months to be fully executed, and even online coverage takes at least 6-8 weeks from the time you start to see results. Pace yourself and stay consistent.

Fauzia’s firm, FSB Associates, is an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s also the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2016). Fauzia worked for Wiley and Henry Holt before starting FSB, and has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. For online marketing, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke). For more information on her book, please visit: http://www.FauziaBurke.com.

Scott WintripUsing PR to Attract Top Talent
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Five Tips to Network for Top Talent

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Word of mouth is a powerful way to find great talent and fill open positions. It’s also often overlooked. Why? Because people forget to ask for this help. Plus, they don’t realize the potency of this stream of talent.

Just how potent are referrals? In reviewing the hiring practices of 70 companies last year, there was a pattern. Those whose employees at all levels of the organization networked for referrals filled their jobs four times faster than those that did not.

Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If there’s a “magic bullet” for effective networking and getting quality referrals, it’s this: just ask for help.

Simply telling someone that you need help—even saying the word itself—creates an important dynamic. It’s human nature for us to help one another. When you use the word “help,” you’re reminding the person you’re asking of your shared humanity. This simple approach often paves the way for people to be generous in pointing you in the right direction.

Tip #2: Realize a little goes a long way.
Investing a few minutes each day in referral recon pays off in dividends. And it’s easy; it doesn’t even feel like work.

When a vendor stops by, ask for their help with referrals; at the local office supply store or that restaurant where you’re having lunch, network with the employees you meet; a phone call to a friend could turn into two or three candidate referrals. Small, quick inquiries such as these can turn into big wins when you find a great person to hire.

Tip #3: Get specific with qualities you’re looking for.
Don’t just ask your contacts for referrals to people who are looking for a job. Ask for referrals to the specific type of person you want to hire.

For example, if you’re looking for a store manager, you might say, “Who do you know that is good at managing a retail store? I’m looking especially for someone who listens more than they speak.” This precision helps the person you’re asking thoroughly “search” their mental Rolodex for the right person amongst the hundreds of people they know.

Tip #4: Don’t forget to ask your “obvious” networks for referrals.
How often do you ask current employees for their help with candidate referrals? What about their family members, or the previous employees who left your organization on good terms? Have you asked your own family and friends to put you in touch with referrals they know?

It’s easy to overlook the obvious resources for strong referrals. This oversight comes at a cost. We’re likely missing out on the insight of the very people who are most likely to want to help us.”

Tip #5: Remember the most important “rule” to attracting great talent.
The best attractor of top talent isn’t high salary or fancy titles; it’s being a great place to work. Make sure your organization has a positive and engaging environment and you’ll develop a reputation as an enjoyable place to work. Then when you network and request referrals, the people you ask will go out of their way to refer their friends and colleagues to you.

Reaching out to the people you meet—as well as those you already know—can connect you with impressive talent. Make referral generation a regular part of your tasks, whether you’re the CEO or in a staff-level role. Before you know it, you’ll realize that good people are easier to find.

Scott WintripFive Tips to Network for Top Talent
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How to Audit the Effectiveness of Your Hiring Process

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Auditing your company’s balance sheet can tell you a lot about the health of your organization. Auditing your hiring process can tell you a lot about the health of how you choose your employees. Scott shares fives questions you can use to complete your assessment.

Scott WintripHow to Audit the Effectiveness of Your Hiring Process
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Attracting Top Talent – The 5 C’s of Effective Candidate Marketing

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Marketing to candidates can be hit or miss. Sometimes, your posts, ads, and other initiatives draw in a slew of talented people. Other times, only a few mediocre candidates respond.

What causes these successes and failures? Where you market is one factor, however, it’s not typically the cause of a low response rate. What is the primary cause? How you communicate your opportunities to top talent. This includes what you say, how you say it, and how long it takes you to convey your message.

How you communicate to prospective job candidates will be our focus in this five-part series. In each segment, I’ll cover one of the 5 C’s. These are the attributes that create an effective candidate marketing message.

The 5 C's of Effective Candidate Marketing

When you’re correctly using all 5 C’s, you’ll attract more top talent. Your marketing content, whether written or spoken, will help you effectively maximize several key talent streams, including advertising and referrals. There are eight streams in total, each of which gives you access to different pools of people. More details about the eight talent streams are covered in High Velocity Hiring, my forthcoming book being published by McGraw-Hill.

What makes the 5 C’s powerful? Marketing messages created using the 5 C’s are provocative. They’re more likely to capture and hold the attention of top talent. Highly qualified candidates are picky. Their careers depend upon continuing to make good job choices. Talented people pay attention to the details, starting with how you communicate with them.

The 5 C’s come with a big payoff. In my work with organizations across the globe, there’s a pattern — those that employ all 5 C’s attract at least three times more highly qualified job candidates.

The First C — Concise
Why soundbites are an important part of effective candidate marketing.

We live in a world of soundbites. Our inboxes, social media feeds, and news sources bombard us with hundreds of soundbites each day. These soundbites inform us of news, provide updates from our friends, and tout new products and services.

The dominance of soundbites has created the need to be concise. We’ve become a society that consumes tons of information in small chunks. Brevity has become the standard for all types of communication, including how you market to candidates.

To compete for top talent in today’s fast-paced, content-packed world, you must be a soundbiter. What does this mean in practical terms? Here are two important rules:

Rule #1
rule-1When writing, your first 15 to 20 words will capture or repel attention.

Think about how you review social media. You scan from post to post, clicking on those that grab your attention. Top talent does the same when looking at jobs posts, career ads, and other content about job opportunities. They scan and selectively choose which jobs appear to be worth further consideration.

For example, here’s the original opening paragraph of a job post from a large technology company I advise:

In business for more than 60 years, our continued growth has created the need to add to our team. You’ll be responsible for leading the efforts of a creative team of 12. This will include overseeing their work, mentoring each person to advance their careers, and driving each project to a successful conclusion.

It’s dull, long, and boring. It should be no surprise that only a handful of mediocre candidates responded, none of whom qualified for an initial phone interview.

Here’s how the opening read after the COO turned key features of the opportunity into a soundbite.

Ready to lead your team your way? Want five weeks vacation your first year? Then read on…

How’d this change the results? Four highly qualified people responded within 24 hours. Two, in particular, stood out, making it difficult for the COO to choose which one to hire. A “good problem” to have, as he put it.

Rule #2
When speaking, the first nine seconds are the most important.

rule-2When people speak, which ones grab your attention? What do they have in common? Chances are it was what they said in the first nine seconds. In those first nine seconds, you’re making a determination. You’re asking yourself, “is this person worth listening to?” If so, you remain engaged. If not, your mind and attention wonder.

Candidates do the same thing when listening to you. Those first nine seconds either engage them or prompt them to tune out.

What’s an effective verbal soundbite? Notice the difference between how a VP of Engineering previously began conversations with referred candidates…

“Hi Susan, I’m the VP of Engineering for a local company. I wanted to discuss your background for a opening I have on my team. It’s an engineering role with some solid opportunities for travel and advancement.”

…and how he does it today in a compelling soundbite fashion…

“Hi Susan, I work for XYZ company. I’m looking to add an engineer to my team. Someone who’d enjoy traveling to our offices around the world.  

In recent calls, his soundbite quickly grabbed the attention of five candidates. Two of them weren’t interested in changing jobs, but each offered him additional referrals. Three candidates quickly became excited about the opportunity, one of which he hired four days later.

The first of the 5 C’s, being concise, is where we begin for two reasons. First, being concise is a failing of many leaders. Second, it is the most important of the 5 C’s. Even if you flawlessly follow the other 4, top talent is turned off when you’re overly wordy. Highly qualified people shun the long-winded blowhards and, instead, gravitate to the organizations whose leaders communicate confidently and concisely.

In our next segment, we’ll move on to the second C – Clear.

Scott WintripAttracting Top Talent – The 5 C’s of Effective Candidate Marketing
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When It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow

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waterfallYou’ll likely agree that hiring is one of your most important tasks. Get it right, you make your job as a leader easier. Get it wrong, you make your job harder—and possibly put your career at risk. The desire to get hiring right is why many executives and managers are slow to hire and quick to fire.

Problem is, you’re beyond busy. Every day is full. An open seat means extra work you either have to do yourself or delegate. Add the steps of the hiring process, and your already busy day turns overwhelming.

How can you balance your need to make good hires while managing your day efficiently?

It’s all about talent flow.

Enrich and Harness Top Talent

The importance of talent flow came up recently at global CEO summit I attended. After my keynote address I stood on a balcony talking with a few CEOs from the audience. We looked out over a stunning landscape. Mountains stretched into the distance, dotted by lakes and streams, the rolling landscape accented with the beautiful orange and red hues of fall foliage.

On one side, a particularly beautiful lake drew our attention. One of the CEOs, who lived in the area, told us it was his favorite fishing spot. He explained the lake was fed by a spring. The spring burbles up from an aquifer, pumping in millions of gallons of oxygen-enriched fresh water. Water that sustains the fish and nurtures plant life. On the other side of this crystal clear lake was a stream. The stream served double duty—it allowed fish to swim downstream to seek food in nearby lakes, and carried away dead plant matter and other natural waste.

“That’s why it’s perfect for fishing,” the CEO said. “The flow in and out creates balance. There’s just enough fish, plants, and nutrients to keep it pristine.”

As we were talking, I happened to glance in the other direction and see another lake—one that was quite unattractive. There was no spring feeding this lake, nor was there a stream carrying away debris. It was stagnant, covered by a large algae bloom and choked with dead plants. I pointed it out and asked the CEO about it.

“It smells just as bad as it looks,” he said. “No one fishes there. Even if they did, I doubt they’d catch anything good.”

I nodded my head, making a connection. I was about to speak, but he anticipated my thoughts with uncanny accuracy.

“These lakes are a good metaphor for hiring,” he said. “The effective hiring you described in your keynote is like the lake where I fish. Flow creates abundance. In the spring-fed lake, the flow of water creates abundant life. In a company, a flow of talent gives the organization an abundance of human resources which allows it to achieve strategic goals. Talent may flow out, but a continuous supply of new talent brings new perspectives and people who can do great work.”

He was spot on. If there’s a secret weapon behind successful CEOs and top leaders, it’s making talent flow a strategic imperative. From the top down, these leaders know it’s incumbent upon them, not just HR or the talent acquisition team, to maintain a strong flow of talented people. Savvy leaders understand having a strong talent flow is a strategic necessity. Without that flow, departments—or even the entire organization—could end up like that stagnant lake.

How can you incorporate improved talent flow as a strategic imperative? Here are three important details I shared with the CEOs at the summit:

ENRICH THE FLOW

Like the spring feeding the lake, make sure your company has a constant inbound pipeline of prospective employees. Take steps to keep it strong. Work to generate a consistent stream of talented, valuable candidates. Weed out the weak sooner so they don’t waste your time later.

Only 10% of organizations across the globe maintain a strong flow of quality candidates and tap into overlooked pools of talent. That’s where you start—don’t be one of the 90%.

Your growth strategy must include a robust talent flow strategy. Make it a requirement. Task department heads to continuously assess and enrich the stream of prospective employees. Require it before jobs become open, not after. Provide them with resources to tap into a wider pool of candidates. Lead by example. Show them how to enrich the flow by actively networking, referring new candidates, and pointing them toward the pristine, spring-fed lakes best for fishing.

HARNESS THE FLOW

The healthy lake is the candidate pool; the interview is your rod, reel, and tackle. Effective interviews are how you harness the flow of top talent. They’re how you catch and land top team members. Unfortunately, most interviews fail at identifying the best people.

Effective interviews aren’t conceptual. Companies operate in the real world of balance sheets, deadlines, and deliverables. Interviewing should be a reality check—a pragmatic and efficient process that allows you and the candidate to make an informed decision based on facts directly related to the job, not on theory, abstractions, or cute questions that may or may not be relevant to the task at hand. Which is, of course, finding the right person for your company.

The prettiest lure in the world is worthless if it doesn’t land the right fish.

Get the facts you need by taking a rational approach to interviews. Be like a scientist: gather and evaluate the evidence; make a decision based on that evidence—not on what you project or how a candidate spins a particular aspect of their resume or work experience. Look for proof the candidate can do quality work. Ask for real examples from previous work projects. If examples aren’t available, have them generate a sample—right then and there—related to the job for which they’re interviewing.

SUSTAIN THE FLOW

As your company takes steps to enrich and harness the flow of talent, there’s a risk you’ll change too much at one time.

Patience is a virtue many of us lack. In today’s fast-paced society, impatience is the norm. We want things done now, not weeks from now. To drive change, we set tight deadlines and push everyone, including ourselves, towards the goal.

Fast change rarely sticks. It takes time to adjust routines and change habits. A rapid series of changes can overwhelm us. We reach a tipping point and give up, reverting to our previous routines.

Incorporating an improved talent flow into your strategic plans is a must, but you have to make the timeline realistic and achievable.

As a leader, creating a vibrant organization begins and ends with you. When your company is already like that beautiful, thriving, healthy lake, you have an advantage. If your company is part of the forward thinking 10% that maintains a constant stream of incoming talent, keep it that way. Don’t build dams; make sure the spring keeps flowing.

If your organization is more like that stagnant lake, don’t fret. A lake can be restored to its former beauty—so can your company and all the departments in it. Make it a strategic imperative to tap that deep aquifer. Enrich, harness, and sustain the flow of top talent. When you make this proactive choice, you’ll keep your pool of potentials stocked with skilled, resourceful people who do great work, help you reach your strategic goals, and keep your company strong and thriving.

Scott WintripWhen It Comes to Hiring, Top Leaders Never Go With the Flow
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