HR Professional
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By Sherri Wright-Schwietz


How to hire and retain top talent

Do you remember your worst hire – that one individual you questioned hiring because they didn’t quite fit in with the rest of your employees? Even after hours of training and job shadowing, you still had to let that person go. It’s the goal of every HR professional to hire, train and retain the strongest employees that “fit.” However, this is much easier said than done. The question on everyone’s mind: how do you weed through the field of applicants to find the people who will thrive in your organization?


In an extremely competitive market, implementing creative and innovative hiring processes can help you find the best person for your organization. By focusing more on behavioural attributes, rather than traditional work experience and skill sets, you can drastically increase employee satisfaction and retention.


Identify culture and DNA
Every company has a unique organizational culture. And within the company, there is a set of DNA for each critical role. The key is to identify which roles inside your company are most critical and determine the DNA for those specific roles. Start by interviewing your team’s top performers and ask them why they believe they are successful. Also look to those individuals’ colleagues and managers and ask them the same questions. Practice the same exercise with your bottom performers and see what sorts of feedback you receive. You’ll start to notice consistent language and traits emerge from these conversations, from both the top and bottom performers. These identifiers are the foundation for the role’s DNA.


Identify the attributes
Based on the research garnered from the interviews with top performers, you will start to notice recurring traits and competencies. These are the attributes and traits that you can’t train for, but rather those that make up an individual’s personality DNA. These are the attributes that you will want to find in potential new hire candidates. Every company will have a different set of attributes and competencies that they find valuable. While some may focus on independence, change resiliency and creativity, others may need employees who are collaborative and risk-tolerant. By clearly identifying specific DNA, you will be able to find people who will be successful inside your company culture and who fit well with the values of your organization.


Find the best people
Once you’ve identified the attributes you are looking for, a hiring process will need to be developed to help find these individuals. Use a combination of behavioural and non-behavioural questions to help identify the attributes you are looking for. Scoring guides are helpful tools to assist hiring managers and recruiters to know what to look for during the interview process. Demonstrable attributes are the hardest thing to examine, but it’s up to the hiring manager to watch for these behaviours during the interview process.


Help your team become masters
Once you have found the best people for your company, it’s time to focus on retention. Start by creating a culture where there is aspiration for excellence and a passion to truly master the skills of the job. Help your employees find value in the work they do and clearly outline your performance metrics. When a culture provides employees the opportunity for continued growth and development through coaching, practice and feedback, these individuals will thrive as they are aligned with the company’s purpose.


Redefine your standard of excellence
Just as important as having the best employees, so is ensuring your clients or customers know that as well. Try asking your clients and customers why they love working with your company and what they value most. To make sure your customers are fully satisfied, base your standard of excellence on what they think is important, not just what management thinks is.


Sherri Wright-Schwietz is head of talent and mastery for ATB Investor Services.

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