Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 27 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 10

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on December 5, 2016

This is my 27th installment in a series on cultivating and supporting innovation and its potential in a business, by cultivating and supporting the creative and innovative potential and the innovative drive of your employees and managers, and throughout your organization (see HR and Personnel – 2, postings 215 and loosely following for Parts 1-26.)

As the subtitle half of this posting’s name indicates, this is also my tenth consecutive installment here, to specifically address the issues of leavening a business with innovative potential, by bringing in and keeping hands-on employees and managers who are innovators themselves, who support and encourage innovation in others, or who are both. Focusing on the new hire side to this, and particularly when seeking to bring innovation per se into a more staid, business-as-usual organization, I have primarily been addressing the questions and issues of what type of potential hires to look for. With that discussion in place as a starting point, I turn here to more explicitly consider the questions of finding the right candidates to consider, and of marketing a business as a place where the types of people you would seek out, would want to work. And beyond that, is the question of how you would screen potential candidates so you can focus your attention on the right best possibilities, and how you would interview and pitch to them, to bring them to want to say yes to an offer. This means thinking through what they would most want where salary and compensation in general are important, and titles can be important too – but opportunity can be much more so. And this means understanding what a best candidate would look for and expect to be included in that key word: opportunity.

This all begins with the business, as it frames its innovation-oriented new work positions and job descriptions, and as it communicates, both reaching out to share its own story and as it would find out about and do its due diligence on any prospective candidates who apply. And in what follows, I simply take for granted that more traditional approaches to marketing a business and for screening possible employees as hiring candidates, are followed.

• On the business marketing side this means their having an online presence through traditional channels such as web sites and that they have at least begun to use established social media channels to widen their audience reach and to coordinately tell their own story. And for this purpose that means highlighting their business as offering creative and meaningful, fulfilling opportunity to innovators who want to make a positive difference.
• See my series: Using Social Media as Crucial Business Analysis Resources, as can be found at Social Networking and Business 2, as postings 217 and loosely following for its Parts 1-7. I offer that here as a resource for both making more effective use of traditional online (and off-line) channels, and for more effectively adding in new communications channels, and more interactive ones, and for more effectively using all of these resources together, synergistically.

I know that a significant amount of what I would add here, regarding social media use is or at least should be widely familiar, but as of this writing at least, I still see a lot of gaps and inefficiencies (mixed and confusing messages, for example) in what businesses actually do. So I start with the fundamentals, risking simply repeating what some readers might see as more obvious, to identify and close potential gaps and to highlight how a consistent message can be developed and shared, and one that is specific-audience targeting.

I assume a well organized, professional appearing web site that has basic informational resources on it about the business and what it does. And I assume basic print and other off-line communications where that would offer value and be cost-effective to carry through upon. And with that in place:

• Start with social media and the interactive online in conveying the message that your business is creative and innovative – even if has not been as well known for that as it could be and now should be.
• I do not generally write in absolutes in this blog, or talk or write in absolute terms in my professional practice – but NEVER send out messages simply to send out messages. The messages that you do send out and share should specifically inform on their own, they should specifically lead anyone interested to further informational resources that you also offer – including other communications channels they can interact with your business through, or both. Messages devoid of actionable content that might offer specific value or meaning to a reader, are clutter and they collectively create a barrier to your more meaningful messages getting through and connecting.
• I intentionally used the word “synergistically,” above and repeat it here, noting that messages that do not connect into your overall story that you would share, and that are simply there with your name on it, amount to static in your communications, and the antithesis of synergy.
• I do not generally write or think in terms of simply binary one or zero, positive or negative options but to take a conservative, risk limiting due diligence approach here, assume that the specific messages that you craft and consider sending out through available communications channels will either offer synergy as a positive, or clutter as an equally impactful but oppositely charged negative.

What is the basic message that you would create and synergistically spread through the interactive and central publishing model communications channels that you use? You want your answer to this to clearly state that:

• Yours is a business that values and supports the innovative: people with vision and understanding who are willing to reach out to create New, and bring it into ongoing marketable product and service reality.
• That yours is a business that values and supports the innovative in how your business operates too, so it can more effectively, rapidly identify and meet consumer and marketplace needs and for all that it offers.
• And that yours is a business where good people can become better in what they do, and one where they can and do advance in both their skills and in their positions there. Yours is a workplace where people can thrive as well as succeed, and to the fullest of their capability and drive to do so.

I offer this in very general terms, noting that any such generic message would need considerable tuning and adjustment to make it work in the specific business and industry context. But the basic message offered here is important and in most cases should be followed as an individual business and its Marketing and Communications makes it their own.

I turn from this, to consider communications with the job market and with potential new hires, and with a progressive set of essential goals in mind:

• First, you need to reach out through communications channels that the people you seek to reach actively use,
• Then you need to craft conversation starting messages that will prompt them to reach back to you, and to at the very least look further into what you have to say, and into what you do and are as a business.
• Then you have to actually engage, and with a goal of starting a conversation – which would lead to these people thinking of your business as a possible next employer, and with their coming to see one or more positions that you have available as possible good next career steps for themselves.
• And this crucially means you’re learning more about them just as they reach out to learn more about you, as discussed above.

I am writing here about creating an online presence that the people you need to bring in-house, will see as proof that you would be good for them too. Note that I mentioned job descriptions earlier on in this posting. But I have not addressed them and certainly for anything like the more technical details of what a possible job would entail, day-to-day. The key to what I have been addressing here is you’re more effectively presenting your business as the best available employer, for those who can claim mastery of any given set of those technical hands-on and management skills that you and your competitors would call for in open job descriptions, as you all compete for the same best new hires.

I will at least begin addressing some of the details of communicating with the job market, and as two-way communications processes, and with practically implementing the above set of four communications-oriented bullet points in my next series installment. And after that I will look more specifically into the hiring process itself, starting with the fundamentals: the job description and how it is framed. And with that in place I will have taken an at least first step in responding to a to-address point that I made at the end of Part 26:

• “Then you have to have and follow effective best practices for actually securing your best new hire candidates as members of your team and employees of your business.”

And after completing that portion of this series, I will turn to consider the final to-address point from that series installment:

• “And beyond that, how can you more effectively bring current employees and managers on-board with change, as their business pivots towards being more innovative – and even in its basic business processes where that would create greater business flexibility and competitive strength?”

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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