Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Don’t invest in ideas, invest in people with ideas 28 – bringing innovators into a business and keeping them there 11

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 16, 2017

This is my 28th 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 1-27.)

My focus in Part 27 of this was on more effectively communicating your business as a best place to work, for the creative, innovative new hires who you need to bring in-house. And in the course of that discussion, I offered a four point list of communications-related issues that I will at least start to address here, in more explicitly operational terms than I did there:

1. First, you need to reach out through communications channels that the people you seek to reach actively use,
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. And this crucially means you’re learning more about them, just as they reach out to learn more about you.

I discussed the issues raised in that list in general orienting terms in Part 27; my goal here is to at least begin to flesh out how to actually implement them in your ongoing hiring processes. And I begin with the first of them and knowing where to reach out and communicate.

This means really knowing your target audience: the most likely demographics of the type of people who you would seek out. And this means taking a very proactive approach to hiring innovators: not simply waiting for the right people to try applying to you, but rather you’re reaching out to them and where they go to connect and communicate.

I stress this point because “proactive” has never been a particularly common default approach for finding and selecting new possible hires. The received wisdom such as it is, that has more traditionally been essentially automatically assumed is that there are always going to be more candidates, and good ones than jobs. And there are always going to be more good candidates than good, let alone “best” job opportunities, and the best job seekers out there will simply come to you. This is not true, and certainly for those with high demand specialty skills and abilities and even when there is a seeming glut on the market for more routine hires, and where hiring per se is more of a buyer’s market for hiring businesses.

• There are always going to be more job opportunities for the best, most innovatively creative people than there are such people – and that conservative approach to hiring these special would-be employees is the only prudent one to follow. (And yes, I said conservative there – as opposed to automatic and unconsidered.)

So be proactive and do your homework – and even when that means buying relevant marketing data from third party business intelligence providers, in order to know how to reach out here. Where do the people you need, who creatively work at the cutting edge for the technologies that you require, connect online – and certainly when doing so professionally? What professional social networking sites do they use? What online groups do they join and at least follow? What terms and terminology do they use where you could use their language to help you find them and connect with them? And what types of message would catch their eye?

This brings me to the second point on that list and to an approach that I mentioned at least in passing in Part 27: share word about your business and about how good a fit it is for innovators who seek real opportunity. I offered a brief list in that installment, of what might be considered fluff content details to include in your basic message, as you seek to develop genuine two-way conversations. But as trite and obvious as those points might seem when simply stated as is, they are important. And the hiring business that can convey them in the clearest and most sincere and believable manner is the one that will win; they are the business that will engage in more real conversations, that can be converted into those right, best people applying for jobs. And to repeat the fluff, clearly and concisely present the case 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.
• And 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.

Ultimately, that is what the people you most want and need to reach are looking for. And that message is not going to be captured in online job descriptions that mostly just offer laundry lists of specific skills and levels of experience with them that you want to find. That is not going to be contained in dry Public Relations oriented boilerplate text, that more generically than anything else “describes” your business and in essentially entirely impersonal terms, either.

This is about conveying a more compelling interpersonal message about where the people who you need in-house, would use their skills and experience if they come to work for you. It about conveying a message that yours is the business that they would find the most fun to work at, as they use their skills and experience. I use a word like fun there, very intentionally. Look back at your own career path; it is likely that the best jobs that you have ever had were ones that you really enjoyed – that you found fun to do, as well as intellectually and monetarily rewarding. Craft your messages, and enter into conversations that convey how the people who work at your business like doing so – and that they are supported and appreciated and given opportunity to succeed while doing so.

I am going to continue discussing the four points in my above numbered list in a next series installment, and will proceed from there to address job descriptions and how they can be more effectively framed, written, and publically posted. And then after completing that portion of this series, I will turn to consider the final to-address point that I listed as needing coverage here, in Part 26:

• “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?”

There is an old saying which I have cited a number of times in this blog, to the effect that the devil is in the details. This last point is where any potentially irksome details that could arise, are most likely to do so and in ways that can challenge and even block any effort to make a business genuinely more innovative – and even as you actively seek out new types of more innovative employees.

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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