Scouting around for new talent

“Coach, I’ve already changed two human resources chiefs in the past two years,” Preecha tells me. “Now I’m thinking whether I should change the current one or not.”

“Why is that, Khun Preecha?”

“My HR chiefs just haven’t been able to find talent for me. You know we’ve expanded in the past three years, and we also have aggressive growth plans for the next two years. One of our critical success factors is finding the right talent to fill the key positions. It’s difficult to find an HR chief who is good at talent acquisition.”

“What’s on your mind?”

“The current chief is very good in every area except talent recruitment. We’re getting some pretty average people for key positions.”

“What options do you have?”

“I have two options. I could replace her, or I could create a new position _ I’d call it Chief of Talent Recruitment. Then I would find the right person for this role, which would free our HR chief to focus on the other things that she does quite well.”

“Khun Preecha, what could be a third option?”

“I don’t know. Any ideas, Coach?”

“Who is the final person who judges those talents in key positions?”

“I am.”

He thinks. “Do you mean I should take over this task of talent recruitment?”

“Hold that thought for a moment. What went wrong when you put average people in key positions?”

“As you know, we use a matrix organisation structure,” Pracha tells me. “Those key positions either report directly to me or indirectly _ on a dotted line _ report to me. If they’re not capable enough, usually two things happen. More problems come to my attention, and I have to do more work due to their shortcomings. If I get the first button right by recruiting the right people, I won’t have to spend so much time in my problem-solving role.”

“That could be the third option for you.”

“Okay, let’s assume I take this role. How would I do it?”

“Here are some tips I’ve learned from great CEOs.

– They make talent scouting their No.1 priority. Every time they meet people outside or inside their organisations, it’s a talent acquisition opportunity.

– When they talk with people, they ask: ‘What do you do best? How do you develop this strength? What’s your career plan?’ The answers will tell them whether this person is a talent or a moderate performer. If it’s the former, they keep that person’s name on file. They’ll also ask: ‘Who else shares similar attitudes to yours? Could you ask that person to contact me?’

– They ask suppliers, friends in the same community, consultants, coaches or business advisers.

– They observe people in networking functions such as seminars and business forums.

– They observe people in volunteer work. People have a tendency to use their strengths in volunteering.”

“Thank you, Coach. But there seems to be a lot of asking involved. I’m not comfortable with it.”

“Khun Preecha, why did you take the CEO role?”

“Because the mission of our company is to make this world a better place. Our products improve the quality of human life. Hence, when I had an opportunity to do more, I took it.”

“Good. Did you know that as a CEO you’re supposed to do more of the things you’re good at but also things you may not be comfortable with?”

“OK, I get it. I have to start getting comfortable with my discomfort.”

“Tell me more about why asking people things makes you uncomfortable?”

“Coach, I grew up in a poor family. My father taught me we must be able to survive by ourselves. We must not ask for help from others for two reasons: people will look down on, and it makes us weak. That belief has helped me to succeed to this day.”

“It’s hard to replace that belief. I think you have to have a new one that will enable you to be more successful by asking for help from others. What do you think that new belief should be?”

Khun Preecha thinks for a moment, then tells me about something he recalled reading in Influence without Authority, by Allen Cohen and David Bradford.

“The authors say influence is about trade. It’s a give-and-take game. We all have some things valuable to trade with others.

“Hence, my new belief is: asking for help is a trade. I ask for help, and if that person asks for help I will return the favour.”

“This new belief is good. You should reinforce it with some self-talk every day.”

“Why’s that, Coach?”

“Because you’ve carried your old belief for 45 years. This new belief will be hard to imprint.”

“How long do I have to do self-talk?”

“Until you’re comfortable about asking for help.”