Attracting & Retaining Talent with Dr Claudia Gross


On January 16th Endeavor Egypt kicked off 2017 by hosting its ninth edition of Endeavor Egypt’s Breakfast Series addressing the topic of Attracting & Retaining Talent.

Attended by Entrepreneurs, Mentors and Staff, this interactive talk was led by Dr. Claudia Gross, an international process facilitator, management trainer and organizational consultant with 15+ years of international experience, who’s also an Endeavor Mentor.

Over a two-hour engaging discussion with attendees, Dr. Gross tackled the issues of Attracting & Retaining Talent; from what goes into a job description and title of a role all the way through interviewing, filtering potential team members, and hiring- across organizations of different sizes and stages of maturity.

The following captures some of the discussion’s highlights:

Recruitment: “Old methods work, but not always

When it comes to hiring, traditional methods of ‘headhunting’ and ‘recruiting’ employees are not always the best methods to attaining the talent necessary. Dr. Claudia stressed that not all organizations are the same, accordingly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for recruitment. Word of mouth hiring and referrals could be effective for some companies, but not for others.

She further went on to explain that the process of obtaining and retaining a team is –essentially- a learning process, it is one of “evolution not development; it’s bigger than us. You evolve by understanding what type of people you should hire, who does well and who does not, who you need more of and who you need less of.” With time and experience, companies learn how to best attract the talent they seek, and how to retain them.

Start by ‘Job Analysis

Job Analysis is the first step and one of the most important parts of attracting talent. Dr. Gross stated that organizations should “make sure they know what vacancy they have and who they actually need. Have the criteria clear,” she explained, learn from past hires you’ve made “and make sure that the team would be ‘open for surprises’ when it comes to the job.” Dr. Gross explained that sometimes people “spend more time choosing between new phones, or new laptops” than they do at attracting a suitable team for the job and a right fit for the culture of the organization.

Hire for Culture. Train for Skill

In asking attendees what they look for in employees when hiring, responses from the crowd varied from flexibility, learnability, ambition, ownership, commitment to energy and positivity, highlighting that these were, in fact, all personal traits, values and characteristics, not skills.

To attract and select the right people for your organization you need to “make your organization goals clear. People are more attracted to the cause; the organization goes beyond making profit” explained Dr. Gross further adding that “you shouldn’t look for person/job fit, rather look for person/culture fit. Hire for culture and train for skill because culture is what will keep them engaged and skills can be taught.”

Dr. Gross went on to caution against not falling into the trap of misjudging applicants or new hires, just because they “do not know how to present themselves well.” “This issue is a problem,” she explained. “Some people of the highest caliber are not selected because they do not know how to present themselves, this is an issue of education. Try not to let too many ‘false-negatives’ go because they are exactly what you need,” Dr. Gross warned.

Get Creative!

Employers need to be more creative when thinking through their hiring and recruitment strategies and goals. Creativity could be seen in how a Company markets itself, how an employer finds the right talent, or even how to design the interview questions and hiring requirements. To illustrate, Dr. Gross explained that “instead of using looking for a ‘problem-solver’ you could use looking for a ‘solution-finder’.

Dr. Gross went on to provide another example of how an entrepreneur in Malaysia used creativity. The entrepreneur asked prospects two questions: 1) Give me three reasons that make you amazing, and 2) Give me three reasons you want to work for my cause. The same entrepreneur also required applicants to send in a video cover letter. This helped filtering applicants who didn’t want to put in the effort, thus, limiting only those who are keen on interacting with and being part of the organization.

You can offer more than financial compensation

For smaller companies and organizations, the competition with what MNC’s offer employees can sometimes be very challenging especially when it comes to financial compensation. Despite this Dr. Gross shared several ways to retain team members and to encourage them to stay engaged; one of the most important was empowering the team’s sense of ownership.“Giving them an opportunity to learn, having a culture that they believe in, offering them a network, giving them responsibility and a chance for them to contribute” were all important pillars to retaining team members, Dr. Gross explained, showing the team that they represent more than just a figure in the organization. This, according to Dr. Gross, was not just limited to white collar but also blue collar members of a team. Establishing trust was another equally important pillar that Dr. Gross stressed in the relationship between an employer and employee, going on to say that “if you do not trust them, do not hire them.”


On the effectiveness of a “Pyramid Scheme”

Dr. Gross stated that “a pyramid scheme” is not always the best way to structure, engage and manage a team. Rather, “more circular” structures where communication is more decentralized could be more effective. “There is an inner circle which entails management and executives, and an outer circle which the client deals with,” Dr. Gross elaborated. This approach “has been very effective in moving information fast through the whole system so that everyone is updated about the organization. The circular system also engages all teams and trains them in: 1) how to take responsibility, 2) learning together, and 3) sharing responsibility.

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