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Who do you really need to hire?

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In today’s constantly changing economic environment it’s survival of the fittest: businesses of all kinds are realising that being agile enough to adapt to changing conditions is what will give their company longevity and success.

And they’re not wrong: adaptability really is the new competitive advantage. But what exactly makes an agile organisation?

Well, here's a clue: it’s not strategy, it’s not modernisation and it’s not branding – although all these things are important. No, these days the only way to ensure you’re building an agile organisation is to know who you need to hire and why.

I like to call this ‘smart hiring’, and it’s behind every decision you’ll make in your business. If you can understand your current talent, get under the skin of their strengths and weaknesses and identify the gaps in your organisation, you’re more than halfway to building a company that can thrive.

Here are a few tips to help you know who to hire and how to do it.

TIP 1: Make use of the people you already have

The only way to understand what talent you need is by first looking within. To be agile as an organisation you need a skills inventory of the people you have so you can identify gaps and know how to fill them.

Start by looking outside job titles. What skills and talents do you have in your team?

As executive coach Patrick Lencioni explained in the recent launch of his book The Six Types of Working Genius, the results might surprise you. A company he worked with was struggling with creativity. When they looked into their team, they found that the most innovative and inventive member was working in the legal department. By using this employee’s strengths in a different way, the company was able to tap into talent that was hiding in plain sight.

So get to know your team. What are they good at? Who could be used differently to further the goals and vision of the business?

Are the skills you need right under your nose?

TIP 2: Identify the gaps

Once you know who you’re working with, you can find out who you need. In his book Lencioni explains that there are six natural gifts we all either have or lack. In general, each of us will have two gifts we excel at, two in which we are merely competent, and two we will find highly frustrating. Which gifts these are doesn’t matter. What matters is that any team – whether that’s at work, at play or at home – needs someone with each of these strengths in order to work well.

When you understand what skills you’re missing in your team, you can put plans in place to hire into those areas.

But again, think outside of job titles.

What talents do you need to add to your team to make your business stronger than ever? What gifts would help you create a workforce that’s ready to adapt to a changing world?

Now craft your recruitment objectives around them.

TIP 3: Create a culture of freedom

But if you really want to stay agile as an organisation, it’s what happens inside your four walls that counts. Foster an environment where your people can thrive – where innovation is encouraged and talents are utilised.

More importantly, communicate that to your future hires.

Take Netflix. The company defines its desired employee values as judgement, communication, impact, curiosity, innovation, courage, passion, honesty and selflessness, and aims to hire candidates who embody these qualities. So far so good.

But this isn’t just a box-ticking exercise – it’s an ongoing people strategy to further the goals of the business. In their words, its purpose is to:

“Increase employee freedom as we grow, rather than limit it, to continue to attract and nourish innovative people, so we have a better chance of long-term continued success.”

Companies that fail to take people skills into consideration when projecting future business needs will inevitably fall short. By knowing who you’ve got and who you need, you can protect your organisation from uncertain futures – simply by understanding the importance of your team.

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