Finding Keepers: A book review by Bob Morris

Finding KeepersFinding Keepers: The Monster Guide to Hiring and Holding the World’s Best Employees
Steve Pogorzelski and Jesse Harriott with Doug Hardy
McGraw-Hill (2008)

Finding “keepers” is only one step in a perilous process. Here’s what you need to know about the complete engagement cycle.

I cannot recall a prior time in U.S. business history when the competition for talent was more intense than it is now and I expect it to become even more so in months and years to come. In fact, much of the competition is now global in both nature and extent. Moreover, definitions of “keeper” vary not only from one company or industry to the next but also between and among first, second, and third world countries.

According to Steve Pogorzelski and Jesse Harriott who co-authored this book with Doug Hardy, the Monster Guide will help almost any organization (whatever its size and nature, wherever its operations may be) to recruit, hire, onboard, develop, and retain those candidate(s) who are best-qualified for the given position(s). I think this is what Pogorzelski and Harriott mean when referring to “the world’s best employees” in the book’s subtitle.

I commend them on their skillful use of several reader-friendly devices such as “My POV” guest contributions by senior-level executives, inserted wherever relevant throughout the narrative, as well as a “Review” section at the end of all chapters and boxed (what I call) “snapshots” of core concepts and core processes. For example, in Chapter 9, Hire and Hold: Retention, Pogorzelski and Harriott provide Figure 9.1 a timeframe matrix, an “Exercise” for CFOs, a mini-commentary on “Benefits That Balance Work,” another on “Seven Rules for Retention,” a multi-stage program for onboarding, “MY POV” contributed by Kevin Roberts, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi, and then a “Review” of key points made in the chapter.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Pogorzelski and Harriott’s coverage.

o Three Forces Set the Stage: Demographics, Candidate Empowerment, and Increasing Relative Value of Talent (Pages 2-8)
o Poised Employees = Your Employees (15-18)
o Generational Perspectives (19-33)
o Who Is Most Valuable and, Monitor Your Recruiting Effectiveness (41-49)
o Analysis: Employer Brand Delivery (70-71
o The Candidate Experience (77-80)
o Customizing Your Message (83-94)
o Your Recruiting Web Site (96-99)
o Employee Referral Programs (111-116)
o The Funnel (127-136)
o Closing the Candidate (142-147)
o The Cost of Turnover (150-155)
o Employee Engagement (i.e. “with a strong attachment to the work itself”), Pages 157-159
o Onboarding (168-171)
o Next Practices: Transparency, Interactivity, Mobility, Diversity, and Flexibility (191-210)

Before concluding their brilliant explanation of how the Monster Guide can help almost any organization to hire and then retain who are — for them — “the world’s best employees,” Pogorzelski and Harriott observe, “It comes down to this: do you treat people as human beings or do you treat them as assets, as commodities? If you don’t care about people, they’ll have a hard time caring about you. But if you care about them as employees, as friends, as partners in business, and as neighbors and colleagues, they’re bound to join you and stay engaged. Respect, recognition, and engagement are the essence of finding keepers.”

Fred Reichheld has written books and articles about what he calls The Ultimate Question: “On a zero-to-ten scale, how likely is it that you would recommend us (or this product/service/brand) to a family member, friend or colleague?” With only a minor revision (replacing “us (or this product/service/brand) ” with “working here”), the question could — and should — be asked of those who comprise the given workforce. Finding “keepers” is only one step in an engagement cycle. I agree with Steve Pogorzelski and Jesse Harriott: If your people are not evangelists about being employed by you, the Keepers you find soon realize that and have no interest…nor should they.

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the material provided in this volume but I hope that I have indicated why I think so highly of it. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will gain a better understanding of their organization can recruit, hire, onboard, and then retain the talent needed to achieve its strategic objectives.

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