COVID-19 | This blog post was written prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a scary time for all of us. While the future is uncertain, our industry will survive these challenging times. It is in that spirit that we have chosen to publish the original version of this blog post. Our prayers go out to the readers of our blog posts, their families, our industry – we’re right there with you, taking this one step at time.
The sun has gone down and you’re unwinding at home. You’re in the living room, sipping on a glass of scotch or cup of chamomile tea. A fire is roasting in the fireplace, your favorite pet is curled up at your feet, and you’re trying to relax while the latest superhero movie plays on the TV.
Only, you can’t. Another team member retired, riding off into that golden sunset, taking their skills with them and leaving yet another hole to fill. That means yet another talent search, sifting through resumes and conducting who knows how many interviews.
Suddenly, Captain Marvel blasts across the screen as Thor drops the hammer and Spider-Man tangles the latest baddie up in his webs. Everything goes according to script with each superhero contributing his or her skills to take down the seemingly unstoppable villains.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could build a team of packaging
superheroes? Fiction, right? The real world is messier than the latest silver
screen doomsday. Yet with a team of packaging superheroes you could
world secure market dominance.
If you want to gain market share you need to be surrounded by high-performing employees. Writing for McKinsey, Scott Keller and Mary Meaney point out that:
“A recent study of more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and athletes found that high performers are 400 percent more productive than average ones.”
You can build your own super team. Packaging superheroes are already out there but you need to unmask them. By attracting and identifying the best talent, you’ll be in a prime position to take on the biggest challenges and dominate the market.
Writing back in 1998, Pat Reynolds made this astute observation:
“Today’s tight labor market has launched a talent war. Winning in this war means attracting and retaining enough skilled people at all levels to keep a packaging department humming. Losing means stagnation.”
More than two decades later, this sage insight remains every bit as true. The labor market is tight and talent is still the key to success. Over the years, tactics and opportunities have changed but the challenge remains the same: there’s not enough talent to go around.
Transformational change gurus Scott Keller and Mary Meaney note that:
“Failure to attract and retain top talent” was the number-one issue in the Conference Board’s 2016 survey of global CEOs—before economic growth and competitive intensity.”
If you want to attract the best talent, you need to be authentic. In another post, Scott Keller and Bill Schaninger argue that companies should:
“Create a strong and distinctive employee value proposition that authentically represents workplace reality. Creating false expectations can lead to negative reviews on JobAdvisor and Glassdoor.”
Attracting top talent also means making your company a more attractive place to work. The best employees want to work for companies that put employees first and provide a great work environment. Jim Molis points out:
“Today’s workers want to feel valued, too. Show your appreciation for them through employee-recognition programs, performance bonuses and comfortable work environments.”
You need to make your company easier to work for as well. In years past, work was 9-to-5, while the boss commanded without question. Now, employees want more flexibility and input. This is especially true if you want to attract younger workers. Speaking to Packaging World, Jeff Mansfield, Senior Vice President of Proactive Worldwide, urged companies to:
“…Think about the types of policies in place that cater to a more adaptive workforce—such as work at home options, flexible work schedules, incentive programs and providing a way for millennials to engage with leadership through monthly town halls or lunch and learn gatherings.”
Never overlook women either. While Superman might dominate the big screen, finding your own “Superwoman” is a great way to beef up talent and diversity. Women remain underrepresented in the packaging and manufacturing industries yet are a prime pool of talent. Attracting highly qualified women, however, requires a different approach. Stephanie Neil writes in Automation World that:
“Manufacturing companies need a different approach to recruiting, retaining, and advancing women in the workplace. And, that directly translates to a company’s culture as well as the industry as whole.”
Have you built a world-class company that attracts talent from across the industry? As applications come in, you’ll face the next challenge: How do you identify the best talent in a pool of applicants? Start with your own needs. In the Harvard Business Review, Peter Cappelli advises companies to:
“Whittle down the list of attributes you want to those that you are willing to pay for, whether with money or with intangibles.”
Focus on the skills, talents, and other attributes that your company needs right now. You might need a talented leader. Maybe you require a materials science expert or data whiz. Either way, your first step is prioritizing the attributes your company needs.
Still, you might think that finding the right employee is like reading tea leaves. In the Harvard Business Review, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic , Seymour Adler, and Robert B. Kaiser argue that three key traits define high-performance recruits: ability, social skills, and drive. Find recruits with these skills and you’re off to a good start. As the authors point out:
“Not many employees are highly able, socially skilled, and driven — but if you bet on those who are, which involves evaluating these qualities as accurately as you can, you will end up with a higher proportion of future stars who will contribute disproportionately to the organization.”
When evaluating packaging executives for leadership positions, however, dig deeper. Seymour Adler urges companies to uncover “engaging leaders,” who have intangibles outside of strategic thinking and the like. While monitoring leaders at the New York City Port Authority, Adler found:
“…the employees who went on to be great leaders a decade later had all learned the value of hope in the face of adversity, persistence in the face of obstacles, humility even when achieving great things, and forging caring, supportive, and authentic relationships.”
Keep in mind that you don’t need to find packaging experts that already have all the skills. Instead, find heroes that you can cultivate into performers. As Jeff Mansfield put it:
“It’s not about recruiting talent that knows all of the information. The new mindset is to target people who you can train to do the job.”
Either way, by focusing on the key attributes your company needs right now and indicators of high performers, you can identify great future employees at every level. As you make your company more attractive to work for, you’ll be able to poach more talent as well. And the team of packaging superheroes you assemble will be in the prime position to dominate the market.
What does this have to do with executive recruiting? EVERYTHING! Superhero employees don’t appear out of thin air. You need to know what to look for before a person becomes a superhero and that is what we do best!
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