Recruit+Repeat = Retain


“Go big or go home” is a common rallying cry in sports and in business. This mentality inspires recruiters to find the talent needle in the haystack. It also fuels a recruiting industry that offers executive search, website optimization, and selection tools to help you go big to find top talent. Getting the right talent in the door is a critical part of building your talent pipeline and should be a big focus. But what happens after you go big and get home? What is your strategy to re-recruit and “go big” to retain your current employees? I was asked to speak on this topic at the Recruit, Retrain, and Retain seminar held this week in Minneapolis. I believe we need to recruit and re-recruit employees to retain them.The good news is the same pillars of recruiting- understanding the need, scouting talent, and closing the deal – also support retention.

Understanding the Need. Recruiters and hiring managers spend a lot of time distilling organization needs when they open a requisition. What would a home run candidate look like? What do we need on the field to win?  How can this hire make our team stronger? Most companies have developed some kind of intake process to define the need. However few have applied that same approach to their current employees. You can re-recruit your employees by understanding their needs. Tell your employees how glad you are that they are here – and now you want to know where you want to go. What would a home run career look like? What role can take you to the next base? What skills can make you more competitive? How can we play to your strengths?

Scouting Talent. We invest a lot of time and money to find great people. In sports and business, scouts hit the field to assess prospects’ skills, mental toughness, experience, and team fit.  If we are lucky we find the future phenom while we work for each hire to deepen our bench. But what about the talent already in our bullpen? You can rerecruit your employees by scouting internal talent. Expect managers to be coaches. Spend time in the batting cages to improve employees’ tactical skills so they can make key plays. Let employees tryout for different positions on your team. Think of your early career employees as your farm team – and your job as providing them the experience and training so they can move on to a higher level at a given point.

Closing the Deal.  The payoff comes once we get the candidate to sign on the bottom line. Great prospects often have multiple offers, so we work hard to sell the organization, make a competitive offer, and close our top picks. Just like the pros, it is important that we don’t lose sight of our internal line up while we wine and dine our future stars. Employees are free agents and can entertain offers from other teams as they decide if they want to renew, renegotiate, or resign from their current employment contract. You can re-recruit your employees by closing a new deal. Ask employees about their short term and long term goals. What kind of position and playing time do they want? Give feedback on how to get to those goals and commit to coaching them along the way.  Your current employees know your business and know your customer – the best deal is to help take the current bench from good to great.

Recruiting and retention are often viewed as opposite ends of the talent field. But good coaches realize we need to focus on our full roster to win. In the words of Vince Lombardi, winning means you are willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else – to both recruit and retain your employees.

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