Is Good Enough Really Good Enough? Not When It Comes To Your People.

Is Good Enough really “Good Enough?” … Not When It Comes To Your People.

There are some things in life where adequate or “good enough” is ok. These are mostly commoditized items like paper napkins or plastic forks. I mean, does it wipe the BBQ sauce off your mouth off sufficiently? Then we’re good.

However, there are some situations (and I’m referring to companies) where “good enough” is translation for, “I don’t really care”, “I'm mailing it in”, “It’s not important to me.” or “I know we can do better, but I really don’t want to screw with it."

There are some things when this mentality is ok…

...BUT how you find, attract and hire people for your company is NOT something where “good enough” is “good enough”

The lip service versus action taken regarding this blows me away sometimes.

I’m not saying everything has to be perfect or operate with German engineering like precision and there are many companies who actually walk the talk very well.

It drives me nuts to see some executives, companies and employers profess and espouse that “people are our most precious asset” or “We are in a war for talent” or other BS phrases and euphemisms that sound great in public or in website copy… BUT don’t act on it internally where the mediocre, sufficient or good enough are the norm.

You would never think about telling your customers or your investors… “Meh…our product or returns… They’re good enough. Just go with it."

But that’s exactly what I heard this week from a company where a senior executive who has sat on a proposal for weeks eventually told the struggling Director and the HR Team, who themselves are short staffed and has one person responsible for 50 open positions, “You have resources that are good enough… use them"

Arghh….. (Yes. I’m obviously upset and have my nose bent out of shape, just as the Director who is in the weeds and her HR Team that wanted help. I’m human. You would be too.)

But here is the real reason it sets me off (it is not what you think)… and it should open your eyes too.

I hate the term “war for talent.” It sounds good, but is cheesy and few know what it means. Even FEWER are willing to do what it takes to really participate, let alone win. 

It is a competition in a zero sum game of getting people, talent, minds, bodies, skills to choose you and your company over your competition by any means necessary. It isn’t pretty or passive, and many refuse to see it as it really is.

People or companies who operate with the “Good Enough” mentality aren’t ready, willing or capable to do what it takes or put the resources and effort required to be the best in their field. They fish. They "post and pray. Put a posting on a web site as bait and wait to see who “bites” or applies. Reactive and about as effective as buying a lottery ticket and calling it financial planning.

Properly done, finding and attracting a high volume of the right people is a strategic, sales oriented process that means taking the best people away from your competitors and ensuring that the best talent isn’t available to them.

Supply and Demand. Choke off the supply of good talent from your competition and capture top mind share the same way we do market share. You ready for that?

When it comes to talent acquisition, recruiting, hiring, or attracting people… few companies really understand that the people, pipeline, message and method have a DIRECT FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCE. (tweet that one.. it’s important)

It is easy to say the right thing on put copy or the website. It sounds good, but when it comes time to do something about it or dedicate resources, it is the rare organization that looks at things like this strategically.

Rather they look at the attraction and recruiting of people as an expense and leave it to the least equipped, trained or skilled in the company to “handle"

Don't get me wrong or feel I'm bagging on in house talent people. I think the challenge, obstacle and responsibility lies largely in senior executives and how they much value they place on "talent acquisition."

I know MANY talent acquisition people who are fantastic, world class and have resources and management that sees them as a parter. I was just at a global conference with 500 of the most Bad A** recruiters and sourcers on earth from companies like Pepsi, Paypal and others. I also know many well intentioned people in talent acquisition world who are good but simply overwhelmed by the workload and administration.

But then there are many who are sent into this “War for Talent” armed with only a job description, a web site posting and a LinkedIn Account.

And if an senior executive actually looked at the backgrounds of many front line recruiters or HR reps and a lot of agency recruiters. (who are the face of your company... the front line soldiers in this “war”) you will notice that the only thing they've recruited before taking this job were freshmen girls from Tulsa at Pi Phi Rush 2014 at the University of Oklahoma... or retail staff to work at Abecrombie in the Galleria..  but that’s “good enough” right?

I’d make the argument. (and I will in a later post) that Talent Acquisition / Recruiting should be broken off into a separate group that reports to sales or marketing. 

Stew on that one for a while and ask yourself if you attract, market or sell people to join your organization in the same way you do your product or service to customers.

One of my favorite clients, a VP of Talent, is not even an HR guy. He is a former Marketing VP and Product Manager from J&J, Dell and Perot. He thinks like a strategic marketer, operates his Talent Team as a profit center and has the ear of the CEO and a seat at the grown ups table. He is a talent rock star that acts like a consultant internally. He gets it… and so does his company. Others don’t.

Here is how the story ends for companies who are satisfied with “good enough"

Eventually your best employees will recognize it and grow tired of it. When your competition or the people they partner with (like me and others like me) call and show them a better way… they will leave. The competition captured your best soldiers in this “war” (Ugh… I still hate that term)

What you're left with are the lame, mediocre, "also rans" who don’t care and are content remaining obliviously plugged into the matrix and collecting checks on the 1st and 15th. "Get better? Improve? Why should I?… it’s good enough."

Or you end up "reacting" to the situation left by your former employee and end up paying a premium to whatever mercenary recruiter you reach out to fill your unexpected holes just in time…in the most unstrategic of ways.

As you enter this last quarter of the year, step back and ask yourself...

  • “Am I/we settling for “Good Enough” or is there a better way?"
  • Ask, "Are we getting by, is what we are doing “good enough” or could we do better?"
  • Are you willing to explore or try ways that can make you better, more effective especially if they were cheaper or had limited or no risk?

Want more than, “Good Enough?” - Let’s talk.


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