Seed World

See it, Secure It! When You Find Good Talent, Hire It

I am working with a fast-growing company in a region with a very limited employee base. There are two primary strategic concerns that came up in our leadership conversation today. One is finding the people with the right skills to meet the company’s growth and diversification needs; the second is finding people who fit the culture that the owners want to maintain as their organization grows. I’ve had this same conversation with many seed sector companies; in fact, I think it’s probably familiar to almost any company across the seed value chain. 

In the business classic “Good to Great”, Jim Collins states that the first step is to ‘get the right people on the bus’ and then figure out where to drive it. As he explains, if you can get the right people onto your bus, you can always make subsequent moves inside the bus to get them to the right seats in order to get your organization to someplace great. Surrounding yourself with great talent increases your capacity to dream a little bigger and increases your likelihood of success when pursing new possibilities. 

Even though it is a common topic of conversation, talent is too often not a primary consideration when building corporate future plans. That’s a mistake. Talent acquisition should be aligned with strategic planning and be seen as a primary and critical step to achieving your goals. Without the labor in place as a project launches, the new work gets put on existing staff, reducing their effectiveness at their first job and not allowing the new project to reach its potential.  

The talent availability situation in our industry is such that I recommend leaders hire good talent when they see it, even if you don’t have a job vacancy at that moment. Too often, business leaders choose to wait and hire for an immediate need, losing money because they can’t find the right people to capitalize the full potential of a new opportunity. A different choice by some business leaders is to ‘pay up front’ to add talent on the payroll proactively, which can then be deployed rapidly to respond to urgencies and new opportunities. 

Business owners are sometimes hesitant to have “too much talent” on the payroll because they know market conditions and opportunities will change. Changing conditions make it difficult to predict exactly the specific skills that you should hire now for a future need. However, good talent with familiarity of your business and the right attitude can learn and adapt to change. Prioritize your spending to allow yourself flexibility to make the employment offers when good talent is available. Consider saving money in order to acquire additional talent every year. No growing company I know has too many employees for the workload.  

Invest in ensuring new hires have an appropriate amount of time on-boarding and getting up to speed on different parts of the business where they can make a contribution. Having a bench of prepared talent also makes it easier to shift people around to better fit roles as business demands change. 

On a related note, companies that reorganize shouldn’t be too quick in letting good people go. That currently unneeded good talent will likely be working for your competitor when you do need them. Hiring them back will be really expensive. 

Talent is an investment in the future. Bring on new talent and take the time to build them into exactly what you want for your company. You’ll have a ready-made pool to fill your needs. Consider internships or apprenticeships as less expensive options. Hire professional talent into a rotation program and move them to different parts of the business so that they have a breadth of corporate knowledge before you put them into a specific role—better yet, they pick where they want to be. 

When you are proactive and consistent about hiring, you have time to think about what the “right fit” really means. Consider the industry skills and also consider what your future talent needs will be based on your strategic planning. A good hire needs to have general knowledge in your area of business, but they also need soft skills and must be a cultural fit within your organization. Cultural fit and soft skills are harder to define … and harder to find. When you hire with urgency, cultural fit tends to be the most lacking. So, take your time, be clear what you are looking for, and when you find the right people, hire them!