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What’s the optimal talent equation?

15Jul Posted by Jonathan Jordan

Recent industry data, such as The Holmes Report’s World PR Report and PR Week’s Top 150 both confirm the industry has recovered well in 2013, with many firms recording double-digit growth.  The recovery appears to be gaining additional momentum in 2014, so it comes as no surprise that the war for talent is beginning to rage again as many firms seek the experienced hire to help fuel their growth.

I have always believed that building the right talent pipeline within a business is the best antidote for ‘growing pains’ and is something that has always been at the top of my agenda.   With the exception of one bad year at the end of the dot-com bubble, throughout my PR career I have always been fortunate enough to be part of, or lead, a team experiencing growth.

Sermelo has enjoyed consistent, double digit growth over its four year history and I’m delighted to have seen my colleagues respond to the challenges this presents by developing their capabilities, seeking additional responsibility, identifying what guidance and training is needed and perhaps most importantly, sharing their learnings and experience with each other.

A team that can manage growth has to have a very special attitude, one that is rooted in a belief that the challenges faced every day are not insurmountable, and an ability to bounce back quickly from any setbacks.  When we get something wrong, we all need to have the strength of character to admit it, and the sense of humour to laugh both at the mistake we made, and most importantly, ourselves.

Growth challenges us in many ways, but it has great rewards.  It allows for the advancement of everyone in the team and a good business plan needs to be looking down the track at future roles and responsibilities and asking the question of who, with appropriate the professional development, can meet these requirements.  To be clear, this doesn’t replace the necessity of making experienced hires but it helps identify proficiency and cultural gaps and makes sure there is a rigorous rational for new talent. Typically, this in turn increases the likelihood of making the right hire and for that person to quickly find their feet and contribute confidently to the future direction of the organisation.

Increasingly, success is linked to an ability to take manageable risks.   In a world being continually disrupted by changes in societal expectation, innovative new business models and shifts in the way we as consumers like to do things, new ideas are needed.  If you trust your colleagues and value their opinions, it’s much easier to be creative.  While a ‘eureka moment’ is always welcome, the best ideas are normally the product of a team working tirelessly to make something good become outstanding.

Above all else, I believe that the route to promotion, needs to be linked to an individual’s ability to encourage and promote the abilities of those around them.  If you can’t make those around you grow in their capability, it’s unlikely you will maintain sustainable growth.  I believe this is the secret to the talent equation and at every level in every business we need people who are simultaneously climbing their own learning curve, and helping their colleagues do the same.


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