Hey Talent Diva – The World Needs Ditchdiggers, Too…

Kris Dunn Candidate Pool, Culture, Driving Productivity, Kris Dunn, Retention, Succession Planning

To quote Austin Powers, I’m a man, baby… As a guy, quoting movies is part of who I am… And I can even work it into a HR/Talent blog entry… From Caddyshack:Judge_from_caddyshack_2

Judge Smails: The man is a menace! Cut that off! Music is a violation of our personal privacy! He’s breaking the law!
Danny: I’ve always been fascinated with the law, sir.
Judge Smails: Really? What areas?
Danny: All areas. Personal privacy, noise statutes….I’d planned to go to law school after I graduated, but my folks won’t have enough money to put me through college.
Judge Smails: The world needs ditchdiggers, too.
Lacey: Nice try.

Here’s the transition – Does your company look for stars only when recruiting, or have you come to the realization that your world needs ditchdiggers too?  Chief Executive magazine cites the growing trend of companies, even elite ones, to go deeper into the talent pool to find what they need.  From Chief Learning Officer:

"The essence of understanding the difference between A people and those connected with any other letter is that everybody matters and everybody counts. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in two decades of consulting is competitiveness is not determined by the learning speed of the “fastest few,” but by the learning and execution speed of the “slowest many.” Let me point out that “slow” doesn’t have anything to do with intellect. It means “slow” in being invited to the table to learn what others have already had the chance to assimilate to.

This statement may seem obvious, but if you don’t appreciate its meaning, it can stop your organization in its tracks. Picture it like this: The senior leaders — the A team — of a company are climbing a mountain range. The rest of the people in the organization — the B team — are two peaks behind at the base camp.

Where is the overall position of the organization? It’s not with the leaders. It’s back at base camp. It’s not, “How far ahead of everybody else can the leaders advance?” but, “How fast can the leaders engage others to move the entire company forward?” The success of the organization is defined by the last group, not the first, when it comes to measuring total performance."

My take is that most of us in the Talent sector understand the value of the "steady, yet unspectacular" performer.  It’s never more apparent to me than when I have a big block of vacancies for the same role.  In the last year, my company has worked to fill 12-13 Account Managers and 12-15 Training Specialists at the same time.  Filling a big order like that seems to get me in the "compare and contrast" mode, and appreciate the steady candidate who may not be a star.  Invariably, I find the hiring manager, for the block of vacancies, thinking the same way.  The rationalization usually revolves around 1) whether the candidate has the skills to do the job and can be projected as a "Meets" performer, and 2) the fact that if you have all stars, you ultimately will have dissatisfaction because not everyone can move up in the organization.

Of course, that rationalization assumes you could get all stars for all of your positions, which is unrealistic.

What about you?  Would you take all stars if you could get them, or would you want some steady (hopefully) low maintenance performers on your team who are content with where they are?

Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He’s also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.