Last week, during a conversation about a new recruiting project, my client asked a powerful question, “While this is a new position and we are going to hire the individual that best fits, will she be challenged once the role is established?”  What an ideal approach to take in filling a key position.  It says a lot about this organization, a client I respect and cherish working with.  So do the individuals I have helped them recruit.

How much responsibility does the organization have?

Recruiting someone involves convincing them the role you have is better for their career than the one they are currently in, or one they are considering.  Like you, they are making a decision that has a long-term impact.  Everyone is excited about bringing the right person into the organization—the one whose knowledge, skills and passion are required for success.  The individual gains both valuable experience as well as satisfaction from their contributions.  The organization successfully continues its strategy for the future.

What happens after the initial success?  That is where the organization steps up and defines itself.

Organizations which are not concerned about the individual’s career are perceiving the new hire more as a consultant.  These organizations are focused on getting the job done right, but not much more.  What message does this send?

Those organizations with “heart” want what is best for the individual as well as for the organization.  They will manage this from the new hire’s first day, making certain the individual delivers what is expected, and continues to be challenged.  Outstanding leaders will understand the individual’s career vision and consider the employee for meaningful future opportunities within the organization.

The challenge is today’s flatter organizations 

If you subscribe to the belief that everyone should continue his career in his current functional area, what eventually happens, as the leader of one of my clients noted “you have a very talented specialist who is only prepared to contribute in a narrow manner.”  Very few specialist roles are “big enough” to keep the most talented individuals challenged.  Turnover is inevitable; the organization loses key talent.

Diversity in experience provides professional growth.  People who have experience in sales rarely think like people in finance; people in human resources, rarely like production.  An individual moving into another functional area brings a new perspective—a different way of looking at things.  This individual will ask questions that have not previously been asked.  He or she will challenge what has been accepted.  Since future growth is based upon asking new questions, not simply doing the same things better, the organization will change for the better.

There is plenty of talk about turnover, and having people prepared for future roles, but it takes more than talk.  It takes commitment.  It begins long before an individual is hired.  It begins with defining the role.  It begins when the decision is made about the type of individual that would be ideal.  It continues through the recruiting process, identifying and contacting individuals who “fit.”  And most important, it continues after the individual is hired and is successful in the role.  It is a dialogue that will keep high performing individuals engaged long after the initial project is successful.

When you recruit someone for a key role, are you looking long-term, and from both the organization’s and the individual’s perspectives?  It is worth the effort.