Finding and attracting top talent to your company is a priority for every business leader.

In MBA courses, conferences, and board meetings the topics of recruitment, securing top talent, while retaining those into whom a great deal has been invested, are perpetual agenda items.

A Forgotten Talent Pool

When economic times are good, the competition for the best and brightest, even for beginning level leadership positions, is exceptionally fierce.

Yet, what if there was another talent pool that could provide very solid team members, even potential leaders?

What if this talent pool was able to provide team members who were familiar with the inner workings of the company and already had an excellent understanding and command of the existing systems?

What if a process of internal recruitment was created to “mine” the talent that already exists within the support roles of the company?

Damaging Consequences

There are very successful companies that all but ignore the internal talent within their organization.

If a team member is hired into a particular stratum of the organization, just like a caste system it can be very difficult for them to rise above their original station. At any given time, people within an organization are in the process of improving their skills through further schooling. All employees who participate in the professional training provided by an employer can be attaining micro-certifications or simply becoming more astute at the inner workings of the company.

The importance of developing team members for future roles is clear. Inherent in organizational structure is often a belief that seeking outside talent with a highly exclusionary set of criteria will be best. This means that the potential to maximize internal talent, particularly those that may begin in a support role, will likely be lost.

When a person lacking the education and formal preparation rises within a system, it was common in the past to attribute such success to an outside factor. Some sort of favoritism or the intervention would be credited, rather than the work of the employee who had risen. Women and minority team members have been, and continue to be, labeled in this particular manner even after decades of high-level job performance. Breaking a paradigm that permeates the fabric of an organization, and has forever, is an exceptional challenge for leadership.

So, what is a possible answer to this vexing paradigm?

Developing from Within

As a leader, becoming invested in the role that the human resources department plays within the company is critical. Waiting for HR to simply provide you as a leader with the next crop on talent, is not leading with purpose.

In addition to actively participating in recruitment efforts, you have the opportunity to supplement the current system by turning the focus inward. You can require that HR looks diligently and purposefully within the support ranks for those that might have skills that are not being utilized or have not been recognized by the organization.

Making a priority of holding internal interviews for the purpose of better knowing the potential of those within the company is a strong first step. even when positions are not immediately available, being proactive in talent analysis can be a great advantage to a leader. Taking time to find out about interests, about past experiences, about places in the past where the internal candidate may have shown a strong aptitude for success, is all very useful information. There are support persons in every organization that are exceptional at math and budgeting, who have great interpersonal skills or have the capacity to think and plan on multiple levels. It is not only within reach of the wise leader to tap this talent pool; it is in their best interest.

When a proactive and innovative effort is made by a leader within an organization, particularly if it is to the benefit of current employees, you can bet that the word will spread. Being known as the person through whom people in support roles can advance within the organization, will make you a sought-after leader to whom the talent within the company will gravitate. Having talented team members within a company making the effort to be on “your team” will also send a positive message to your superiors.

A Return on Courage

Sometimes it takes courage and a bit of an investment in mentoring to release the potential of team members who may not have had all of the initial advantages.

But one often finds that these team members are highly motivated and very appreciative to be provided an opportunity to perform.

Internal advancement creates a strong sense of loyalty and belief in the leader who is wise enough to recognize and develop their talent. The opportunity to operate in what will appear to be a creative and original manner allows you as the leader to not only serve the members of your team but to have your potential recognized as well!

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