By Gale Mote / Guest Column

“The business of business is people,” said Herb Kelleher, chairman of Southwest Airlines. “Always has been, always will be.”

That’s true; however, I would qualify the statement by adding the “right” people.  The key to attracting and retaining the best people for your organization is to define what that means.  Who are the right people for your customers?  For your workforce?  For getting positive results in the right way? The goal is to get the best fit possible.

High performance organizations focus on values: they hire on values, coach values, promote on values and yes, terminate relationships based on values. The real magic happens when you find talent whose personal values and interests align with the basic beliefs of the hiring company.

Organizational culture speaks volumes about a company’s values. Just walking into a business will tell you all you need to know about what matters most. It is impossible to hide culture because it shows itself in the actions and attitudes of the employees and management.  This is how we do things around here.

So how do you attract people with the right values? First, your brand and recruiting practices must authentically reflect who you are and what you believe. There is nothing worse than going for an interview and finding out that the company is nothing like what it professed to be. Just like dissatisfied customers, job seekers talk among their social networks. Your reputation is damaged and trust is broken.

Another tip is to restructure your job ads to focus on strengths, not just experience and credentials. Often, great talent is overlooked because a person doesn’t have the background in a particular role even though they may have the core talents. You can teach the business – you cannot teach talent or attitude.

Structure the advertisement to ask intriguing questions about the heart of the role you are seeking to fill such as, “Do you have a logical and systematic approach to problem solving?” or “Can you prioritize the urgency of multiple requests and then take charge to meet those deadlines?”

As an added benefit, employees are more likely to stay in a job and with a company if they are confident, contributing at a high level and feel there are more opportunities to grow and utilize what they do best. Simply put, they are playing to their strengths.

Many job seekers are looking for the right place, meaning community first. Then, they narrow down the options for potential employers and job positions. Is your organization actively engaged with local economic development and civic organizations?  If not, start now. You need to be able to promote and speak to all of the opportunities and amenities the community has to offer a potential job candidate.

Keeping great talent is sometimes as difficult as finding them. According to Entrepreneur (April 2015), 58 percent of people leaving their current jobs are doing so voluntarily. As you know, the very best employees always have choices.

To keep your best talent, honor and respect your culture. It is the magnet that draws people to your company – not the pay, the title or the position (although those things do matter.) Hold people accountable for living the core values of the business. Fifty percent Zappo’s performance evaluation has nothing to do with performance – it has everything to do with demonstrating what matters most.

Don’t try to copy someone else’s culture – be yourself.  Do make sure you understand what engages employees (clear expectations, opportunity for growth and development, strong teamwork, reward and recognition, a sense of purpose and meaningful work, making a positive impact, respect for life beyond work and more) and then find your own unique way to fill those needs.

Lastly, ensure all of your managers, especially the front-line supervisors, are well-trained and motivated to lead and develop people. Make sure they make it a priority to do just that. A bad boss will create a revolving door within the department and your company. Hold them accountable for creating a work environment where people want to come to work, do their best work and recruit other great people to come and work there too!

Gale Mote is a trainer, organizational development catalyst and coach in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at