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September 4, 2013 / Mervyn Dinnen

5 Benefits of a Transformational Hire

Much as the ‘War for Talent’ supporters may encourage us to believe it, there is little correlation between the football transfer window and the day to day hiring processes of most businesses. There is one similarity though, in that it focuses the mind of an owner/manager on the teams that they have and how they can be improved.

Whilst football people only get to do this twice a year now, companies do it all year round. Even so, it often pays to take time out to think about what you really need for your team, what special ingredient (ie talent) could make a real change and take you on to the next level.

For some it may be that you just need more of the same – more bodies at the coalface to deal with workflows and production efficiencies. Possibly not an on-going need so some loan signings (that flexible workforce thing) may suffice.

Other companies may need to ship in specific skills and expertise to cover areas where they are weak or may lack the edge over their competition.

Most football clubs will have been addressing these two hiring areas over the last few weeks.

But then there is another type of hire – the Transformational Hire.

I’m guessing that most followers of this blog, and of my social profiles, will know that I’m an Arsenal fan – and it’s their piece of recruitment that has intrigued many over the last few days. Despite having a lack of cover in some of their specialist areas, and a definite lack of bodies in their overall first team squad, they’ve gone and hired a major global talent who will transform them in many ways but doesn’t necessary address some of the key and immediate deficiencies in the team. And I, for one, am really excited about it.

Now I’m not a fan of the ‘5 things recruitment can learn from the transfer window’ type of blog so I’m desperately trying not to write one! But one thing that has got me thinking more is how many commentators and players see this one transformational hire as somehow changing their perception of the club.

So focusing on the hire and not the football – what could a transformational hire do for your business?

Statement of Intent

Nothing tells the market, and your employees and customers, that you’re ambitious more than hiring one of the big guns, someone with a successful track record who is at the top of their game. Acquiring an undisputed talent from your field who shares your vision and wants to be part of it can make others sit up and think ‘Hey, they’ve got their act together. They’ve got a plan

Sending a message to the competition

The chances are that you’ll be hiring someone that the competition wanted. It may well be someone from the competition. It can make others look at you differently. In Arsenal’s case the inference behind Chelsea’s refusal to loan them a player was that after this hire they were seen more as rivals.

Inspiration to existing employees

Undoubtedly many of the younger and emerging players at Arsenal will be able to learn from their new player, but the existing team will also benefit. Most people like working with the best talent, provided the best is someone who has the humility and character to still be part of the team. Whilst some may feel that they will look poorer by comparison, the upside is that others will raise their game, learn and take inspiration from someone new. A new face, particularly one that brings experience, class and a strong work ethic, can galvanise a group of employees, give them belief and help them achieve results they haven’t before.

Talent follows talent

It’s not just the existing employees that are galvanised. Other people in the market will see your business in a new light, as a place where talent can thrive, which enables you to be more bold in team building. Someone who people respect has endorsed your vision. It’s not a coincidence that the last two occasions on which Arsenal ignored pressing needs, confounded expectations and broke their transfer record to buy a fully formed major talent saw the start of the two most successful 10 year periods in their history.

Re-invigoration of consumers

For Arsenal, the signing of Ozil makes commercial sense. He’ll sell shirts and sponsorship deals and put bums on seats. He’ll give supporters who were losing faith something to believe in, handily papering over one or two of the areas that haven’t been addressed. Aside from the legalities of someone taking clients and contacts with them to a new business there’s little doubt that in a competitive business sector, customers and clients often look to where the momentum is, the ideas and creativity, and a transformational hire can certainly bring this momentum.

But, a word of caution

Not every transformational hire works out. During my years as a recruiter, particularly in the recruitment to recruitment sector, I saw many ‘top billers’ and outstanding performers join a new business and flounder.

The infrastructure and support at one company may help some achieve great things, but then they can move to a different one and the same may not happen. The culture and values need to be right, and the reason for the hire must be one that builds on and enhances what is already there. It can’t be relied upon to paper over the cracks and keep an underperforming team afloat.

And these hires take time. The person who could transform your team almost certainly needs to be identified, courted and nurtured. You can’t rely on their CV being emailed your way.

And finally, whilst my enthusiasm for Mesut Ozil is getting me carried away here, let’s not forget that transformational hires need not necessarily always be about the most high profile talent. The Arsenal team that had much success between 1987 and 1994 did not need a big name for a spark…careful hiring of the right catalysts inspired a primarily young group of players to reach great heights.

So go find the transformational catalyst for your business…

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Julia Briggs / Sep 4 2013 2:45 PM

    Ah, the word of caution.

    Talent is so easy to identify in a 90 minute game with 22 players (I am at the limits of my footie knowledge here) but so hard to identify within a (large) organisation. Or even articulate what it might be – ask any internal recruiter and getting your (untalented) client to even give you the faintest clue as to what they are really looking for, or even to define talent, is a nightmare.

    We only have to look at a couple of the talent hires/promotions in banking in the past couple of years to see how toxic they can be……..

  2. Phil Hutchinson-May / Sep 5 2013 8:57 AM

    Mervyn
    Thought provoking as ever.

    Julia, in my experience talent is easy to identify, in an organisation or on a football pitch. Really talented people stand out a mile. The challenge is tempting them to come to your organisation or football club. In business we are not all able to pay £85m transfer fees and £300,000 a week salaries.

    In my opinion organisations and their recruitment partners need to think about what they can offer. Better culture, more autonomy, strong product portfolio, great location, flexible benefits.

    It’s tough to land talented people….identifying them is the easy bit.

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