Wanted: Top Performers for Business Success!
by Dan LaVelle
16 Sep 2005

What it takes to attract today's best and brightest
Hong Kong's economy is in relatively good shape these days. Companies are reporting more consistent growth, and the outlook at least for the near to mid-term is for this trend to continue on track. But with today's relative prosperity has come a skills shortage in the territory especially in the IT, banking and finance, sales and other sectors.

The challenge will now be for many firms to help keep their operations moving forward by hiring and retaining the best talent possible from a dwindling pool of top quality staff. And, while the obvious answer might seem to be cutting fatter paychecks to attract good workers, that's not necessarily what talented workers are after when they decide to join a company.

More than money
According to staff recruitment specialist Deborah Morgan, director of Manpower Hong Kong, companies should look at rewarding talented people not only through salaries, but in wider terms such as career advancement, training and recognition.

"This may include involving them in management decisions through greater communication as well as conducting annual appraisals that focus on both accomplishments and attitude, with clear, measurable targets and achievable goals", Morgan says. "Monetary incentives like bonuses may be undertaken quarterly rather than annually, with basic remuneration more closely linked to performance".

Who is a top performer?
According to Ms Morgan, "I think top performers are employees who are dedicated, continually challenge themselves and have strong communication abilities. They continually up-skill themselves or look for companies that can help them up-skill. The best staff are also 'in tune' with a company's goals and strategies, and work independently or as part of a team to achieve them. They also want to be continually motivated and challenged".

Companies may not currently realise or fully appreciate that they already have exceptional people in their ranks. That's why, according to Ms Morgan, the best way to identify and continually develop top performers is to undertake regular appraisals and advertise positions internally before going to the market. This greatly assists in identifying the talent you may have 'hidden' within the company. "It is important to set strong career paths and development plans for employees and then monitor their progress", she says.

"Top staff are 'in tune' with a company's goals and strategies, and work independently or as part of a team to achieve them."

Companies also must do their part to prepare when trying to attract good staff. This includes understanding your company's business plans, strategies, vision, and mission. It's also important to clearly identify a corporate identity to a potential applicant, explain precisely what the job is that you are hiring for, and how it fits into the overall company's goals and strategies. According Ms Morgan, "many good staff leave companies because the job description didn't meet the actual job situation." Other factors can also compel staff to leave including no career path and a poor corporate culture.

Stay in touch
Ms Morgan also feels that it's essential for companies to implement internal systems to help monitor how employees feel about the company and its culture. She cites people surveys, employee feedback mechanisms and generally getting employees involved in the company by communicating with them as a means to help retain good staff. Ms Morgan practices what she preaches, often encouraging her own employees at Manpower to not only raise questions or issues, but to offer the solutions as well.

The educational background of potential top candidates is a key factor when hiring any staff, but Ms Morgan emphasises that experience is sometimes more important.

Ms. Morgan, originally from Australia, whose 16 years in the recruitment field has provided her with unique insights into companies' hiring practices and the career paths of many people says, "it doesn't matter how good or bad a company recruiter is, it depends on what you do with the talent after they are hired that makes all the difference. Ignore an employee and he or she will leave. Fail to develop good talent and they will soon become not so great talent."

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