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Wiser Than the Boss

Thursday, February 14, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

Regardless of size, companies that continue to achieve tactical and strategic goals employ “A” quality talent. These exceptional employees should be in leadership or development roles that yield an impressive ROI to their employer. Typically, most “A” players are exceedingly ambitious, extremely capable, quite creative, and highly intelligent. The challenge for selecting, managing, nurturing, and retaining is as much an art form as a skill.

Most “A” talent are overachievers who have won prizes for their educational accomplishments and are competitive due to the upbringing to secure success. They are often polished, possess a nurtured IQ, are highly competitive, and often a bit insecure around people viewed as equal or more intelligent. Recruiting “A” quality is one challenge, but maximizing the management of “A” talent is critical. Most “A” players are better at strategy than tactical and therefore may lack appreciation of the real world and undervalue the challenge of accomplishing tasks that support stated strategies. Managing people who are more talented and clever than their superior takes smarts. Sound ridiculous? Not really. Clever people do not like to be led. Attracting intelligent and creative talent is difficult enough; effectively managing and mentoring them takes planning and talent.

Here are some facts and suggestions on managing talent that is wiser than the boss:

  • Intelligent and creative people want recognition that their ideas are important and valued. They like and utilize technology. Thinking of better ways to do things and coming up with new ideas is the norm.
  • They know their worth and are very aware of compensation that is attached to their role. They are not traditionally stimulated by fancy titles, but rather by status.
  • Most are politically savvy and have an indifference to bureaucracy.
  • “A” talent is well-connected with a “knowledge” network that can increase their value to the corporation. This is the same network that will constantly introduce new opportunities that will tease their interests.
  • They are restless and easily bored. Clever people need a peer group of talented and intelligent teammates to stimulate them to be their best.
  • “A” players want instant access to their boss or above; otherwise, they feel that their work and contributions are not taken seriously.
  • These highly intelligent contributors rarely say “thank you” to their leaders because they don't want to be led. They prefer that you stay away from their playing field and let them coach.

Managing “A” quality talent isn't easy; however, the alternative could be a company void of strategy and losing value in a competitive economy.

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Case Study: Innovative Leader for a Venture Capital-Infused Business

Wednesday, February 6, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

Challenge:

A venture capital-infused business had absorbed acquisitions and centralized core functions, but was not being innovative or responsive to customer needs. The VP of Engineering & Product Development wanted to bring in a new leader to manage and stimulate a group of talented engineers and product designers. Four months after initiating the search, there had been two turn-downs and no new candidates on the horizon. The COO called Bohan & Bradstreet (B&B).

Solution:

B&B visited the company, met with the senior leadership team, and learned about their history, organization structure, culture, and strategy. In addition, B&B was provided with a detailed description of the opportunity and reviewed the frustrations of not securing the right talent. It became obvious to B&B that the level of the search was too low and that something was broken in the interviewing and evaluation process. B&B made recommendations to alter the title, compensation, and reporting structure of the role. B&B interviewed individually all executives included in the candidate evaluation process and identified the differences in the vision and expectancies of the role. Corrections were made, B&B defined the search process, and within three weeks had three candidates competing on final interviews.

Result:

The selected applicant started 46 days after B&B was originally contacted.

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Case Study: General Manager for a Holding Corporation

Wednesday, January 30, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

Challenge:

The President of a holding corporation had an out-of-state SBU that was not making plans. The decision was made to confidentially replace the SBU General Manager quickly.

Solution:

B&B was contacted during Thanksgiving week. After reviewing reasons for failure and business strategies, B&B partnered to define search parameters. Over 70 candidates were identified and evaluated, 17 were interviewed, and six were presented within three weeks. The client interviewed four candidates in December.

Result:

The client diligently evaluated candidates prior to year end, B&B completed references, and all parties conferred on a unique offer. The new GM accepted and started January 17th.

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