There would be more top Talent in organizations if HR looked at Talent like a Venture Capitalist does. Talent is arguably the most important criterion when investing in a company. There are other factors such as the vision, operational plan, timing, cashflow and market readiness (Facebook had 20 competitors when it launched, they just got the timing, rollout and funding right), but looking at the entrepreneur with their small dedicated team across the boardroom table is usually the number one factor when opening up the cheque book.
There have been a number of lenses where I’ve looked at Talent: as a recruiter, sales manager, executive and as a VC. I’ve learned in all of them that people are the most powerful asset in a business and that the success of many companies has been based on the ability to crack the Talent Code; to attract the best, build a structure that supercharges employee creativity and output and makes them never want to leave.
For a VC, there are lots of entrepreneurs out there, but finding one who has surrounded themselves with top Talent is rare. These entrepreneurs with strong leadership teams and engaged employees get the extra 30-60 min post pitch. They are the ones that get attention as they have created an employer brand that’s pulled in top Talent like a magnet and (knowingly or unknowingly) created a talent structure that can attract and keep these great employees.
With the talent shortage beginning to squeeze HR’s ability to find candidates and worse yet, make top talent choosier, it may be time for HR to take a step back and look into the Shark Tank. It’s time to build strategies that get the best to come to your door rather than chase talent pools that are quickly drying up.
VC’s know that Talent attracts Talent. One of the first questions is ‘how are you going to find the people to deliver on the plan?’ and ‘how have you locked in your team to keep them onboard?’ Through many (some if you’re really good) failed ventures, a VC knows that getting great people quickly is the key activity for ramping a business. Building thought leadership and employee celebrities in a start-up is cheap. With the added ability to amplify content on social media you can highlight fantastic and inspired employees to new Talent easily.
It’s not uncommon to really push a CEO to nail down their talent attraction strategy so that they can scale this very quickly. If you think finding a few Engineering MBA’s is tough, try growing your engineering base by over 100% in a few months like these companies. VC’s know that investing in an employer brand early will mitigate the risk of having talent shortages in the future. Labor is one of the most expensive parts of running a business. Investing a small percentage of this cost into research, branding and employer marketing when put into this perspective is a must have for a growing business.
Yes, venture capital is about taking calculated risk. Yes, it is about making money. Yes, it is about finding a business model and ramping it in the right market at the right time. It is also about discovering close-knit teams. Enhancing environments to amplify creativity and outputs and building people whom themselves build great things. VC’s see top organizational Talent as an appreciating asset. They also know that Talent attracts Talent and that their role beyond the cheque book is to continue to remind leaders that it’s the top Talent in the organization that is driving success. If HR looked as critically and strategically at Talent as a VC does, they would rebalance their cheque books to grow the great people inside and invest in an employer brand that keeps the thinkers and builders coming through the doors.
About the author
David is Univerum’s Global Vice President of Product and Head of Digital for the Americas