Spotting Innovative Talent – External and Internal to Your Company
The job market is a lagging indicator for the economy. And over the last several months, readings from each of the different national surveys have been positive. To accompany those reports is an underlying uptick in stories about how to hire innovative personnel. These individuals will always command a market for their skills, so its especially important to have a plan for this talent. Here are a couple articles I found valuable.
Inc.com ran an article titled How to Spot Innovative Hires by Geil Browning. In it she has a few recommendations:
In resumes: Look for “I enjoy developing solutions that are fresh and new,” “I’m an idea person,” or “I’m a visionary.” She also suggests that you don’t be scared off by stops in different industries.
In the interview: Observe who the person is making connections in their mind. When explaining a point or telling a story they seem to go off on a tangent, be OK with that. They are most likely connecting the dots in their minds – creating associations. They’ll also pepper the conversation with terms like brainstorming, big picture, global, vision, hunch, oneness, synchronicity, and cutting edge.
Here are a few blurbs from the piece regarding Interview questions to ask:
If you were to assemble a piece of furniture from the directions, how would you go about it?
I love this question because each thinking type answers it so differently. Someone whose thinking is very innovative will often say, “I look at the picture on the box, dump the pieces in a pile on the floor, and then begin. When the project is complete, I use the directions to start a fire.”
When a deadline is a month away, how do you finish a project—and when?
An innovative thinker will say something like, “First, I search the Internet for ideas. Then I’ll take a walk or ponder until a solution makes itself known. This may happen immediately or it may happen three days before the deadline, but when the solution surfaces, it will come all at once—and it will come.”
What would you do if you showed up ten minutes early for a meeting?
Does this individual talk about striking up a conversation with the nearest person, or quietly prepare for the meeting? Only you know which trait would offer an appropriate balance at your company.
The Harvard Business Review is providing some guidance about how to identify the people who in your organization are the entrepreneurs. In a blog post titled Who are Your Organization’s Entrepreneurs? Bill J. Bonnstetter and Ron J. Bonnstetter label the problem solvers within the company as Entrepreneurial-Minded People (EMPs) and Serial Entrepreneurs (SEs). The risk they see is in the likeliness of an entrepreneur leaving the team. An interesting stat is that 42% of of entrepreneurs have determined they want to own their own business before the age of 12, so companies are facing tough odds.
Entrepreneurial-Minded People (EMPs): They tend to work well in teams, have an organized workplace and enjoy consistency. These individuals are happier within organizations or within a group of people working together to achieve a goal.
Serial Entrepreneurs (SEs): The second group is made up of potential serial entrepreneurs who have a desire to own their own business. Serial entrepreneurs tend to be more individualistic, have a greater sense of urgency and a desire to control. They have demonstrated an ability to sustain a business past the first year, into the higher growth job production years of a young firm.
But how do managers identify entrepreneurial types? It’s often helpful to put these questions to use, especially during the hiring process or a performance review.
- Describe your career goals. The EMP’s answer would more likely indicate he could care less about being in management and is happy where he is or where he is applying for. The SE will tend to say she is looking for advancement.
- Describe your professional strengths. An EMP will focus on strengths directly related to the job in question. An SE will talk more about leadership and personal identity.
- Describe things you’re not good at. Honesty is important for both. Listen closely: If she claims to not have any weaknesses, she is likely more SE-driven. The more weaknesses he confesses to having, the more EM-driven he is.
- What activities do you do to keep current in your profession? The EMP is interested in keeping up within his profession and industry. The SE is more focused on keeping up on broader scope, going beyond just her career and may discuss things she is reading, experiencing or sharing.
Entrepreneurs — whether EMPs or serial — already possess the behaviors, attitudes, and values to build successful businesses. Finding out whom within the workforce possesses the traits of an entrepreneur — and which type they are — will allow business leaders to work with their unique approach to business. Recruiting and retaining entrepreneurs will pay big dividends not just for individual companies, but also for the economy as a whole.