# 17:45
27 April 2020

Attracting and retaining talent. Roles of HR and other Managers in building high-performance teams

Today organizations depend a lot on their talented employees. As the labor market is tight, companies are in competition to attract the best talent. Today, companies are in search of finding and attracting A players, but the reality is A players chose the companies. High salaries and generous benefit packages are not enough for attracting talent. Employees want challenging work, opportunities for development, along with awareness, company image, and company culture.

HRM is a shared responsibility, which means, not only HR department in an organization deals with HR issues, but also the CEO and other Managers.

From the recruitment point of view, in most cases, employment interviews are done along with HR and other managers together.

HR professionals do initial job interviews and testing, shortlisting of candidates, background and reference checks, etc.

While, Hiring Managers advise HR on job openings, evaluate the submitted candidates and make decisions about the hiring (or not hiring) of candidates for specific roles within their departments.

Some job interviews fail in predicting future job performance and many times knocks out potentially better candidates.

Many job interviews conducted and selection criterias, are not always effective in hiring the most suitable candidate and predicting future performance, and not always makes the best decisions.

Sometimes, candidates who are able to present themselves better than others during the interviews are being hired, those who are more talented and have better skills, and who are not able to present themselves well at interviews are being rejected.

Many of them, who are being rejected, have great potential. This I have observed in many years of observation.

This proved itself when you look at those candidates rejected and candidates hired after several years.

Those who are able to present themselves better at interviews are not always the best performers in the future.

Sometimes the interviewer falls into the trap of biases such as Halo effect.

Some useful tips

Before hiring, Organizations should always seek to collect background and reference checks for the candidates, in order to avoid negligent hiring. These activities are to ensure that candidates who receive employment offers, are who they represent themselves during the selection process.

Main things to check might include how they adapt, their character and how they got along with workmates, their performance and their being open to learning and development.

Although not always the best predictor of future performance, this will give you valuable insight about the performance and help predict future performance of the candidate.

References should always be collected from several sources. They can be biased as well.

In my experience, I have seen people always giving negative feedback about any candidate when asked for, or people, who always give positive feedback about any candidate.

The importance of Referrals. A players know A players.

 This is probably the shortest and the fastest way to reach qualified candidates. When considering that local labor market is not very big and many people know each other, it is easy to reach qualified candidates through referrals.

But one of the main shortfalls is, not having the opportunity of considering potential other candidate pools. There might be candidates who are better fit. You don’t get to see them and compare when only going after referrals. It usually provides very narrow options for selection.

The importance of Internships

For entry level positions, interns could also be considered.

Internships can be win - win situations for both employers and recent graduates. For candidates, it may mean being able to develop business skills, learn more about potential employers and discover their career likes and dislikes.

And employers can use the interns to make useful contributions while evaluating them as possible full-time employees. One of the studies I had come across, indicated that 60% of internships turned into job offers.

Many of my students at MBA programs were there to change their specialties, as most of them were directed by their parents or made wrong decisions about their specialties at university. Most of them understood that, they had to change their sphere after they had chance to participate at internships or actually being hired by organizations to specific roles. 

Hire self-motivated people, rather than trying to motivate them in the future

Self-motivated people don’t need someone to make sure they deliver the required results. They get their drive from intrinsic motivation.

Imagine what it would be like as a manager to have a team full of employees who not only automatically did the work that they were assigned but who would also proactively seek out new work that needed to be done. 

Always look for those who are curious, enthusiastic, hungry for success and development, and those who want to be great achievers. Look for a career-oriented person.

Behavioral interview techniques could be one of the methods to find out who are self-motivated people.

 I know many students and recent graduates, whom I could see in every forum and education event, who understand the importance of networks and who try every opportunity to develop themselves. They are very active. These people are actually able to find jobs easier and are more successful in the future.

One of the most important things to look for is, their being open to learning & development. Avoid people who always say that they know everything and never accept the fact that they are weak in some things.

If used right IQ and Personality tests will also give important insights about the candidates. But when hiring, looking only at this result might be misleading.

IQ tests are important, they check the general intellect of the candidates, measure reasoning and problem-solving abilities of candidates. But let’s do not forget that, there are many people with high IQ, but lacking people skills. When they are brought to lead teams, they face problems.

When necessary third parties could also be involved in the hiring process.

The other effective method could be giving cases to candidates about a specific issue during the hiring process.

One of the main problems is …

Sometimes, HR professionals do not check the job descriptions properly but still, start the search process and look for candidates. Sometimes requirements submitted by Hiring Managers do not actually reflect the real situation at work. For that HR Professionals should meet and talk to the managers about the requirements and sometimes talk to the staff at work who are in the same position, or who do the same job.

Attracting the best talent to the Organization … This is just the beginning… The real issue begins after the talent is hired!!!

The key to good performance lies within the culture of an organization.

Culture fit is the most important aspect of retaining employees. Employees that don't connect well with the values of the organization won't be satisfied in their jobs. They will be more likely to leave.

Best way to understand if an employee is culture fit is to ask right questions during the interview.

Roles of managers in retention...

Your recruitment strategies are designed to attract the best talent.

Retaining talent is as important as attracting it. Here the role of the managers is unique and vital.

Managers and supervisors should serve as the support linkage between the individual and the organization.

Employees and their managers are in interaction on daily bases. Those who are lucky enough, have supportive, caring managers.

One of the main problem today is many managers are micromanaging, establishing excessive control or attention on details, build close observation and controls of their subordinates, monitors and assesses every step of a business process and avoids delegation, which creates obstacles for development and creativity. It creates a lot of dissatisfaction among employees, mainly because it shows a lack of freedom in the workplace.

The other important thing for employees is (especially for Millennials and Gen Z) learning and development and which plays a great role in retention.

From that point of view, managers’ roles are essential. Managers are informal coaches, who will help you to understand your strong and week points, guide you and help you with ways, give timely and sincere feedback and create an environment to improve your skills.

Most of the learning happens informally, as a positive side-effect of daily work, than formally (courses or training programs). Here the roles of managers is essential as creating job design in a way that creates challenging work, gives employees opportunities for expanding their work with additional responsibilities and decision making authority. One of the main thing A players are looking for, at an organization is challenging work.

Training programs are essential, but here the learning transfer is a big issue. Many of the things learned at training programs, if not applied will be forgotten fast.

German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus’s famous Forgetting Curve indicates that, if new information is not applied, 75% of it will be forgotten in just six days. 

Most corporate learning programs follow a “push” model. An employee is invited to a training session in a classroom at a specified time, listen to a series of lectures. Content is “pushed” to employees based on the training department’s schedule.

Training programs mostly should be designed mainly to cover compliance-related subjects and aimed at covering short term skill gaps and also aligned with the organization’s strategic goals. Here the role of HR professionals is critical along with other managers.

At organizations, we mostly work with adults. Push model does not work very well with adults. Adult Learning Theory principles should be followed.

Adults want a focus on “real world” issues. They seek how learning can immediately transfer back to the job. Adults expect to be listened to and have their opinions respected, expect learning to be as readily and rapidly accessible as an Internet search, easily accessible anywhere and anytime— during work, or outside of work hours—and delivered via devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptop computers in formats as varied as videos, blogs, games, quizzes, simulations, podcasts, or slide shows.

We are living in a world of technology, which makes learning possible even without leaving our houses or offices. You can order e-books or online courses within a minute. Even YouTube can be considered one of the biggest learning portals, which means, as an individual if you understand the areas which you need to improve, you can easily find ways to develop them.

I think one of the main roles of the managers would be to help their employees understand their career perspectives and areas of improvement and expect the employee to find their own ways of improving, which could be training programs, online courses, e-books etc. Not every manager is able to create this for their staff.

Many successful people at workplaces, would tell you now about the roles of their managers, once in their career, they worked together, who supported them, helped them to find their career perspectives and who played a great role in their learning and development and helped them move forward in their career.

Good managers are those who are supportive, who creates the culture of trust, creates right and fair conditions for employees, practices open communication, who delegates and gives timely feedback and who is sincere, encouraging and rewarding and creates opportunities for learning and development and values and listens to the staff.

Not everybody is lucky enough to come across to such managers at workplaces.

As Gallup Organization research indicates mainly employees leave their managers but no the Organizations. Organizations attract talent through effective hiring strategies, sometimes generous benefit packages, through company image and reputation but those who manage those employees sometimes ruin it.

Building and managing teams is an art.

I have seen many successful managers, who are very good at getting results through their teams and produce great results, behind it many times stood good team-building (hiring) abilities along with other skills, which means, bringing the right people to the right positions. That is a skill, not all managers have.

Also, I have seen many managers, who are great in their own subject/field, have deep understanding and knowledge, but still failed because of their incompetence in building the teams with right members, managing and getting results through them.

Many of the performance problems of individuals are directly (or indirectly) related to their direct managers.

I have seen managers complaining about the performance of an employee, later when the employee was transferred to another department and working with another manager, they became one of the best performers in the Organization. Here, the skills of the manager, putting the people to the right positions and assigning right tasks, according to their knowledge, skills and abilities, also job design, along with the other things I had mentioned before.

I am sure, any soccer fan can confirm, there had been bad performing soccer teams, who replaced their manager/trainer, and with the same players, the team got better results.

Succession planning

Many managers today, whom I talk to, do not have replacements. Succession planning is an issue. In some companies, there are formal succession planning programs. In some, it happens naturally. In some, it is not followed.

This is sometimes a cultural issue. Managers sometimes think that, those high potentials attracted will be replacing them in the future and they themselves will be left jobless. I think this is biased and narrow-minded.

I have seen many managers who have attracted high potentials and developed them to replace themselves in the future, who later were able to advance and go to better positions. Without developing people who will replace you in the future, you will just be stuck at one point.

Also, such managers always have a high reputation in the labor market and they become more competitive. Because people development is a skill not all managers have.

I have seen in my experience that, there are managers who sometimes bring their employees to Board meetings, to present a project or explain a problem. This never means that, the manager is weak on something, or incompetent. What is more dangerous is that, the manager believes that he knows everything and who is cleverer than every individual in the department.

I have sometimes seen employees complaining about their managers, that, they present their work to the Board or to the CEO as their own achievement and never mention the work and efforts of the team.


Although when we talk about diversity, it not only includes gender diversity, but here I will mainly highlight this one.

Establishing teams through diverse individuals is actually good for the results and have many economic benefits to the Organization, which creates opportunities and also enables organizations to have access to larger and better quality pools of candidates. Teams consisting of diverse individuals actually produce better and creative results. Diversity means better ideas and solutions are produced.

Teams which only consist of only males or only females are less effective.

Which function is more important for the Organization?

Many times, it has been mentioned that, functions, such as Sales and Finance are valued more than HR function at Organizations.

This is partly true, but I have observed that, HRs importance and strength much depends on the person who is leading the function. At the same time, some CEOs give much more importance to HR function while others don’t.

I have also observed that, when the business is being established, when there is need to hire strong candidates, there is usually strong importance given to HR Department. After all those departments are established with the efforts of HR, I have observed that sometimes, before mentioned functions start to gain more importance than HR.

But lets never forget that, the importance of HR reveals itself in many aspects, its role is usually strategic.

Lets say you have a key employee in production, who has unique skills and on whom the production depends much. Just imagine, after a while this employee receives a job offer and is hired by another organization.

That is the other moment you understand the importance of HR, not only on hiring another candidate, which can usually take around six months and have a large amount of replacing cost, along with seen and hidden costs. But just imagine on time, your HR Department understood this risk and started developing succession planning programs for such key and unique positions.

The other time when organizations understand the value of HR function is when they face sanctions due to legal issues and discrimination and employee complaints. 

As I have seen many times it is being asked by some individuals, about which function is more important for the Organization, I think there is no one best answer to this question. Every function is important. If it is on the Organizational chart, that means it is important for the Organization.

Are they equally important? This could be related to the strategy of the company, to be more specific, the strategic priorities of a company, where companies need to be strong. For example, innovation, quality, design, price, etc. Companies cannot be leader in all these at the same time. So they have strategic priorities.

For example, lets take a company, whose main strategic priorities are innovation and design. In such a company R&D department will have the highest importance. But, again, all functions are needed and important for the organization to function.

The second will probably be the availability of the workforce in the market. If there is lack of specific professionals for a specific function in the labor market, that function will become more valuable for the Organization.

Is it important for managers to know the industry they are leading, well?

Years ago, I was participating in a job evaluation project with HAY group for a big Group. One of the tasks was to write the job descriptions of Top Managers for various companies and functions within the Group. I met many of the C-level staff and I was so surprised to see that all the job descriptions we prepared, was almost the same. They all dealt with similar tasks. Many of the individuals at these positions didn’t have the background from the industry they were leading. But the businesses/functions they were leading were successful.

So answer to the question, is it important for managers to know the industry they are leading, well, yes, sure, but to some degree. To produce good results, it is not always important. Good people skills, good teambuilding skills, sometimes building trust and a good environment, the ability to getting results through people is more important.

Many successful companies today are hiring their HR Department Heads from people who do not have HR background, and who come from various industries. The aim is to bring a different vision and perspective.

For managers, it is essential to have the skills to hire/assign the right people to the right positions with the right skills, to know how to lead, motivate, develop and get results through people. So, knowing the industry they are leading well, doesn’t always mean that the managers will be successful.

Can a good “chef” become a good “restaurant manager”?

Yes, but not always. Let’s look at some of the duties of the “chef”.

-      Managing the kitchen

-      Preparing ingredients to use in cooking

-      Ensure great presentation by dressing dishes before they are served

-      Keep a sanitized and orderly environment in the kitchen

-      Ensure all food and other items are stored properly and check their quality etc.


 For Restaurant managers:

-      Managing the restaurant, leading all aspects of the business and providing excellent customer service.

-      Delivering superior food and beverage service and maximizing customer satisfaction

-      Responding efficiently and accurately to restaurant customer complaints

-      Maintaining the restaurant’s revenue, profitability and quality goals

-      Organize and supervise shifts

-      Manage the restaurant’s good image and suggest ways to improve it

-      Find ways to reach a broader audience, etc.

As you can see, duties differ. The difference in roles is clear enough. A good “chef” with the mentioned skills might not have the skills to run the restaurant.

I think when hiring, many times the mistake organizations are making, is when there is a need to hire a “restaurant manager”, they are only looking for candidates with the skills of a “chef”.

It should also be taken into account that those who are more knowledgeable in the field are not always the best performers. To be successful along with industry knowledge, there are other skills which are more important.