What Keeps CEOs Up at Night & the Antidote to More ZZZ's

by Chris Young

what keeps ceos up at nightWhat keeps CEOs up at night? The list is quite long actually, but there is one thing that needs to be addressed because it is the one thing that affects all the other things preventing CEOs from more ZZZ's.  Right behind increased competition and a damaged reputation, an inability to attract top talent is the No. 5 thing that keeps CEOs up at night according to Forbes. Ironically, in order to attract top talent, you have to have a good reputation and you also have to fight off the competition for the most talented candidates in your industry.

Although Ambien is likely the best antidote to more sleep, popping a pill, unfortunately, will not improve the level of talent on your team. The reality is - there is no quick fix to attracting top talent. It is an extremely difficult task, and it all starts at the top.

The Law of Attraction

People are attracted to things and people that are like them. This is the law of attraction. My point is if you want to attract top talent, you have to create a culture that is like them. Obviously, the personality of top talent will differ based on industry and niche. If top talent to you is the young, tech-savvy individual, a culture with traditional values and little room for change will not attract them.

Our friends at Hubspot are prodigies when it comes to building a culture that attracts the top talent. From endless vacation to complete autonomy, they create a company that people love, which gets them some of the best minds in inbound marketing.

If your culture sucks, build a better one. Figure out what your company values are and emphasize those things to candidates.  Ensure that what you value is consistent with what the top talent values. For example, a company who values time put in vs. results produced may not attract the results-oriented candidate you are seeking.

One last thing . . . Make your culture evident.  You have to live, breathe, eat and $*!% your culture.  Yes, whether you like it or not - you will create a culture. Sometimes it smells prettier than others.  Just remember . . . You are what you eat, which brings me to the next point.

Yes, You Are What You Eat

Considering the last analogy I used - this sounds disgusting. I think so too, but having bad talent on your team is far worse. Low performers suck the lifeblood out of you, your company, and other team members. If you hire crappy, you will create a crappy culture. I know it is not proper English to say "crappy," but it isn't proper anything to hire people who are not fit for the job.

I hate to say it, but you sometimes have to take out the trash to purify your culture. Stop eating fast food, throw out the pizza in your fridge, and start ordering fine cuisine. Your new top talent will appreciate it and so will your checkbook!

Conduct a Smell Test

When you create a strong culture that attracts top talent, you also attract the posers.  Candidates who are well-aware of the type of people you want on your team, will make themselves very appealing to you.  Do not let them fool you by running every candidate through a validated psychometric assessment. 

Although you may think your "gut" is great at telling the good guys from the bad guys, you are not that good.  Think you are that good all you want, but the top talent doesn't like to hang with bottom talent.  When you hire based on gut instinct, you will hire misfits and your top talent won't hang around to work with misfits.

Keep Them Around

Even if you successfully attract top talent, you still have to keep them. There will always be greener pastures for top talent. The same drive that makes them great at what they do also drives them to find better opportunities. If they don't find opportunities in house, they will find it elsewhere.

In order to retain, you have to keep top talent engaged. Keeping them engaged means you have to first motivate top talent in a way that they want to be motivated. And no, money is not the ultimate motivator. What motivates an individual varies based on what they value. It may be helping others, creativity, and for some, money.

In addition to the variable motivators of an individual, you also have to consider the three fundamental motivators that Dan Pink addresses in his book "Drive." That is, all employees are most engaged when they have autonomy, purpose, and mastery. In other words, employees want to be self-directed, know that what they do has a purpose, and get more competent at what they do. 

Attracting top talent is not the job of your hiring managers, it is not the job of the marketing team, and it is not the job of the recruiting team. Attracting top talent starts with the C-Suite because the teams below them do not have the manpower to change the company's DNA. You are the one responsible for making your company culture appealable to top talent. So put your Starbucks down, take the rose colored glasses off your eyes, and see what is/ is not working to attract the wolves to your door. Then, and this is probably most important, decide to do something about it! Your sleep cycle will thank you.

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