Harvard Business Review on Finding & Keeping the Best People: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: August 24th, 2011 by bobmorris

Harvard Business Review on Finding & Keeping the Best Prople
Various Contributors
Harvard Business Review Press (2011)

How to recruit, hire, onboard, and retain the workers who possess the character, talent, and skills your company needs

This is one of the volumes in a series of anthologies of articles that first appeared in HBR. In this instance, its nine articles focus on one or more components of a process by which to “win the race for talent” and then prevent “your company’s top talent from jumping ship as good replacements become harder to get.”

Having read all of the articles when they were published individually, I can personally attest to the brilliance of their authors’ (or co-authors’) insights and the eloquence with which they are expressed. Two substantial value-added benefits should also be noted: If all of the articles were purchased separately as reprints, the total cost would be at least $60-75; they are now conveniently bound in a single volume for a fraction of that cost.

Here in Dallas, there is a Farmers Market near the down area at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples. In that spirit, I now provide a brief excerpt that is indicative of the high quality of all nine articles:

In How to Keep Your Top Talent,” Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt review a core set of ten best practices for identifying and managing emerging talent. Here are the first five:

“1. Explicitly test candidates in three dimensions: ability, engagement, and aspiration.

2. Emphasize future competencies needed (derived from enterprise-level growth plans) more heavily than current performance when you’re choosing your own employees for development.”

3. Manage the quantity and quality of high potentials at the corporate level, as a portfolio of scarce growth assets.

4. Forget the rote functional or business-unit rotations; place young leaders in intense assignments with precisely described development challenges.

5. Identify the riskiest, most challenging positions across the company, and assign them directly to rising stars.”

Other articles I especially enjoyed include Tamara J. Erickson and Lynda Gratton’s “What It Means to Work Here,” Timothy Butler and James Waldroop’s “Job Sculpting: The Art of Retaining Your Best People,” and “Let’s Hear It for B Players” co-authored by Thomas J. DeLong and Vineeta Vijayaraghavan.

If asked to select only one book that provides the most valuable material to supplement what is offered in this volume, it would be Bradford D. Smart’s Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, Revised and Updated Edition, published by Portfolio/Penguin.


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