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Smart Move: Recruit from Within


Picture this scenario: You’re a VP in charge of a team of four managers. Your boss comes to you with exciting news. The company has just won a lucrative new account. This client is very important, so you are told to spare no expense in implementing its projects. You have carte blanche to decide how to handle it. Considering the unlimited budget, you’re strongly tempted to go out and recruit the most impressive new manager money can buy.

Is this the best approach?

David Dotlich, co-author of Action Coaching, answered the question with a resounding no. Before you join the “talent war,” try waging your own “performance war” by re-recruiting the people who serve you quietly and loyally every day.

“The term ‘talent war’ is misleading,” said Dotlich. “It implies that only certain people — people outside your organization — are talented, and that you need to throw lots of money at them to get them to join your organization. This approach is seriously flawed. For one thing, it creates short- term incentives. Your ‘star’ employee may leave the minute he gets a better offer. And it discourages teamwork by making the rest of your staff feel inferior.”

“Think about our hypothetical management team,” he added. “When you bring on your ‘big gun’ and give him/her the plum assignments and the big corner office, Alice might feel unappreciated enough to quit. And Bill, Thomas and Katherine may not leave, but they will probably feel some resentment. Certainly, they won’t be motivated to really ‘give it their all’ because you’ve put all your trust in an outsider and none in them.”

Making the decision to re-recruit your current employees represents a far more productive use of your time, energy and money, said Dotlich. It inspires teamwork and creates a strong workplace culture. It keeps your employees motivated by long- term incentives like job satisfaction rather than short-term ones like money. And you may very well find that it transforms B- or C-level players into A-level players.

Here are five ways you can re-recruit your team, offered in Dotlich’s Action Coaching, written with Peter Cairo:

  1. Solicit employee input on important projects. Your employees have some great ideas. Ask them — and really listen to the answers. They will appreciate the fact you respect their opinions and expertise. A good response to the earlier scenario would be to sit down and talk with your team before you even consider hiring an Who is more likely to really understand the intricacies of your organization: employees who’ve been with you for years or an outsider?
  2. Implement an Action Coaching Sometimes employees may feel frustrated and don’t know why. A good workplace coach can often bring light to personality conflicts, incompatible values and other performance inhibitors and help you and your employees resolve these issues.
  3. Discover what makes employees want to Dotlich focused on three patterns of motivation. Achievement (a desire to reach challenging goals,), power-control (a desire to shape others and have an impact on other people and the environment) and affiliation (a need to be liked and to achieve satisfaction by being in relationships with other people).

To discover this motivation, look for clues in an employee’s personal life. If she belongs to a lot of groups it may be affiliation. If her goal is to climb the tallest mountain on each of seven continents, it’s probably achievement. Or ask her what she wants to accomplish in the organization and, more important, her reason or reasons for wanting that.

“Contrary to what many people might believe, it’s difficult if not impossible to change a person’s motivation,” Dotlich declared. “If someone is intrinsically motivated by power, you can’t appeal to his sense of loyalty to the company or sense of solidarity with the team. What you can do is discover that he’s motivated by power and link that to a larger goal.”

  1. Foster emotional commitment by adopting the employees’ point of view. When people want to please their bosses, they forsake their own point of As a result, there’s no emotional commitment or energy. Work might get done, but it doesn’t get done well or with much creativity. Good coaches make an effort to understand another person’s frame of reference.
  2. Avoid the temptation to stereotype those who are “different.” Typically, people are great at developing solid relationships with people who are just like they are — people who share traits such as the same educational background and social interests, according to In a diverse workplace, however, it’s essential to relate to people who are different.

“People don’t quit their companies. They quit their supervisors,” explained Dotlich. “You can’t control everything about your employees’ jobs, but you can have a significant impact on the important factors. Think of it as a variation of the Golden Rule.

Try to create the kind of workplace you’d like to come to every day. Your employees will notice… and they’ll reward your efforts with stellar performance. You will have, in fact, re-recruited a star team.”

For any questions related to this article, contact VonLehman HR Consultant Tamara Szymanski at tszymanski@vlcpa.com or 800-877-0437

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