Category Management: You Gotta Find the Right People First!!!


The battle for talent continues and if you haven’t changed your tactics, you will end up losing the battle.  And these days, if you lose that battle, you have no chance at winning the war.  And to win this battle, you MUST change your tactics.  Going to battle with the same sets of tools and the same arsenal means you have already lost the battle and the war before it even started.  And sadly, we currently have a client who is trying to fill a mission critical talent shortage by using the same old tools and Predictably and Inevitably, they will probably end up right where they are.  We feel a personal sense of accountability that we have not been able to convince the client to change what they are doing (Adoption is constantly a challenge – even for us ☹).

These are typical responses we hear from client organizations:

  • “We don’t focus on competencies, so we just use the job description to bring on new hires”
  • Interviews are conducted based on “what you know – or think you know” vs. “what you’ve done”
  • Speed causes process to breakdown – “We need somebody now”
  • Short-term “need” causes selection to be narrowed – “We need a buyer” instead of “we need a future manager”


And we know that these are symptoms because the problem is systemic in nature.  Let me start by asking you some key questions because if you can’t answer them, then perhaps you may not be ready to start:

  • Are we hiring the right people?
  • How do we define the “right” people?
  • What skills and competencies drive performance in my organization?
  • What criteria do I use to fill open slots?
  • Where do we get the “right” people from?
  • Why will the “right” people want to work for my company?
  • Is my organization the right place for people to want to come to?
  • Is my organization a talent factory for the rest of my company?


I’m sure you will agree that it is critical that you have the answers to these questions to make sure that you are finding the best people. 

Here are a few of the suggestions we recommend:

  • Acknowledge that you are in a war for talent
  • Create the right “sizzle” to attract candidates
  • Create decision criteris to close your competency gaps (assure you know them?)
  • Recruit to fill 3-5 year needs – recruit past your current requirements
  • Interview looking for DEMONSTRATED competencies
  • Ensure candidates can grow with organization


While these may sound like common sense, they need to be a formal part of your documented process.  And here are some things that you will want to change:

  • Redesign recruiting process to incorporate new competency model
  • Develop interview guides and evaluation tools to support new recruiting process
  • Utilize competency requirements to identify and leverage effective sources of talent “pipelines”
  • Develop advanced screening techniques to reduce number of interviews per hire
  • Adopt a customized onboarding process
  • Introduce coaching AND mentoring programs
  • Track new hires (metrics)


And you will know when you get there when you observe the following:

  • You spend less time recruiting and have developed an effective pipeline to attract “A” Level talent
  • You see a consistent and higher level of skills and competencies from new hires
  • You have less “hand holding” as new hires are more successful and able to “hit the ground running”
  • New hires are more engaged as they arrive with a better understanding of their role and the competencies required to be successful
  • Your organization IS a talent factory for your company


Looking for the best people from the pool of people that you have worked with before is not the best practice.  And predicting their success in a new organization based on how they did in their previous environment is fraught with risk.  Yet we see many clients make these mistakes by depending on their network.  Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you to win the battle.


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