Talent woes of a young firm, an Underdog!

Goliath is big, visible and powerful; he is naturally attractive. Think of David who is unknown, at best an underdog. How does David put together a workforce who will take on the Goliath’s machinery? How can it attract employees without compromising on the capability it needs?

A young firm is typically flexible and responsive. It needs to leverage on this strength. A large or an established firm has its connections with campuses and recruiting partners; it generates huge number of internal referrals; it enjoys goodwill in the labour market and hence, a number of jobseekers make the first move; moreover, it generates a lot of applications when it uses media to announces a recruitment drive. A not-so-large firm or a young firm does not have any of these advantages that the Goliath typically has. So, it needs to do something different to attract talent.

Innovate your organization structure!

Firstly, it needs to show its responsiveness by innovation. The traditional methods are not going to work; neither the traditional organization structure. The roles are to be carved out differently from the way Goliath has been doing. As an example, an organization has roles in sales, production, planning, marketing, finance, customer service, HR, IT etc while a new design having just two roles: Customer Evangelists who sell, market and service a customer and then, Performance Enhancers who manufacture and do whatever it takes to improve quality and reduce costs. Such a design creates novel opportunities for the talent and buzz in the talent market. Innovation in organization design is the answer to the talent woes of David!

Stay flexible!

Not all roles need to be filled the traditional way of having a full-fledged department of people and segregating them into strategic roles and outsourcable roles. For an organization to excel, it needs the best minds to don its strategic roles and all of them need to be working in an aligned manner. It is not very often that a small company or a young company can attract the best talent, let alone aligning them.

So, flexibility in mindset can help one circumvent this challenge. There are experts available to carry out specific assignments – call them Consultants, Temps, Interims, SuperTemps, Advisors… Becasuse these experts come to carry out specific tasks, they adopt a clinical approach and get things done. The labyrinth of organizational politics does not come on the way; even if comes on rare occasions, they do not impact the Interim’s deliverable much. David does not have to worry about its inability to attract people. A call to his recruiting partner can help David get the best minds to solve its strategic issues while he can keep revving up his engine that carries the day to day business.

What about costs? Sure! The hourly or daily rates of these experts are higher than what you pay a full-time professional per hour or day. But, the catch here is that you get real experts and for specific hours rather than a full-time person who is a jack of all trades and gets paid not only to solve the big issues but to do a whole lot of routine transactions. For example, you can hire database specialists, IT security consultants, network architects and so on for specific number of days for a project while your CIO or CTO could just be proficient in project management. So, eventually it’s a huge saving for the organization because you get things done the right way by the experts, finished the project as per a plan and paid as much as you used the expert for. Total Cost of Owning the work is optimum!

Spend right!

Many small firms or young ones are bootstrapped and do not have advantage of deep- pocket investors. They tend to compromise on the quality of talent who carry out their specialist tasks. We see situations where either inexperienced or amateurs try to use their common sense to solve big problems. The time and effort consumed this way and the risk of having a sub-optimal solution is high in the process. Such results have huge opportunity costs and are pretty much avoidable by using specialists.

The thumb rule to call a specialist involves two factors : the frequency of the task to be carried out and the nature of the task. All tasks or activities which happen many many times in a week and strategic in nature need to be done inhouse and focused upon by the organization for its efficiency. Tasks which happen rarely and are non-strategic in nature need to be completely outsourced. Cost of calling a Specialist for either of these two is huge.

When the tasks are strategic in nature and not done often need to be delivered by experts who are hired from outside. Similalry, for tasks which are done frequently and are non-strategic in nature need to be carried out by a mix of inhouse talent and outsourced manpower. Again, the cost of accomplishing either of these category of tasks by people holding permanent roles is sub-optimal. So, it is simple – David keeps his talent woes away by adopting the right outsourcing strategy.

David needs to innovate his organization, stay flexible to deploy specialists and put the money where the mouth is! He will lose no sleep on his talent woes!

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