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Panpa Bulletin : April 2006
recrUitMeNt Paul SuMMerS When you need to mow your lawn, you can just get the mower out and cut everything down to the same quarter inch as every blade of grass does not differ to the next. An exotic garden, however, needs care; very pre- cise and individual nurturing. Like that garden, creative staff can be a tough bunch to manage and nurture to their full potential. Leading a team in any environment isn't easy but in the creative sector, it can be a tornado through the trailer park if not handled in the right way. Employing creative people leads to puzzling questions. As a leader, how much can you give away to let that creative- ness rise up and reach its peak? How do you attract new talent when you have a business to run and many other tasks that require your immediate atten- tion? And how do you find the right fit for what you are look- ing for? Most leaders of business find the process of hiring creative staff a burden to fit into an al- ready intense and full day. More often than not, the impulsive 'welcome aboard' hand-shak- ing happens as a result and a candidate is hired on a lone intuitive feeling rather than based on the actual interview objectives. The great Lord Nelson only approved the captainship of a ship in his fleet after a rigorous, tried and tested program of battle awareness. I'm not say- ing that any new talent should be sent off around the world looking for a fight to test their metal before they take their post, but it is a good idea not to trust the flip of the coin, which sometimes is the equivalent of the last level of decision. The first trap we can fall into is the initial interview process. Word of mouth, rumours, emo- tions, stereo types and what someone did ten years ago at the Christmas party, all come into effect. Ideally the crea- tive class, more so than others, must be assessed on intellect, leadership, emotional intel- ligence, initiative in manage- ment and organisation to name a few. However, the candidate is usually left to float on the chemistry at the interview and is judged purely on first impres- sions, verbal skills, appearance and personal confidence. If you are able to dismiss to a certain point the initial judg- ing of that old 'gut' feeling that comes from first impressions and the personality of the can- didate, you are going to be able to have a better result in hiring. So many times in the creative sector, this is the last bastion of the hire. What can you do to make the right choices? First, you need to make finding the right creative talent to fit the organisation a priority and understand you will require patience to do so. It has to become a priority. A way to achieve this is to create a ro- bust written recruitment pro- gram and strategy which is in line with your marketing strat- egies. Also, hire the talent and not just the listed skills - skills can be taught to a talented em- ployee but a skilled employee cannot be taught talent. A talented creative candidate can pick and choose in the open marketplace today for the role of their choice. Therefore, you need to make your company a place that the creative class wants to work for. Your com- pany culture can be a powerful recruiting tool. Make sure that it reflects the goals the compa- ny wants to achieve. Do not fall into the trap of wasting time in the recruitment process when you have creative talent in your palm -- the top tier of candidate will always have other offers in their back pocket and may not see you as the employer of choice you believe you are. From the creative candidate's point of view, if the role meets with their creative fulfillment needs, then they are half way there to meet with you. If they are passionate about the work the role involves, then they are a breath away from joining your team. Many surveys to date have shown that creative work- ers put these needs above sal- ary expectations -- but it is im- perative not to forget that you are competing in a selective marketplace and that they can be swayed by money. The crea- tive class can easily interpret a salary package as their per- sonal worth. Creative workers also seek freedom in the right role to bring about their global values and focus. They look to their leaders for that uplifting inspiration. As I mentioned be- fore, it's not easy leading a team in the creative sector! It is crucial that you use your creative mind to hire the best creative talent you can find. The cost of a bad hire is excessive in comparison to any additional cost of hiring the top talent in the first place. Rather than thinking about the extra cost it takes to get that rare exotic prospering and improving the overall effect of your tropical garden, think about the cost of not having them there at all. Paul Summers is the Manag- ing Director of Verva Media Re- cruitment Making exotics grow Newspapers are a mix of occupational and personality types, with creative staff being one of the more diffcult to manage in a corporate environment. In the frst of three articles, Paul Summers looks at hiring creative people. Employing creative people leads to puzzling questions. As a leader, how much can you give away to let that creativeness rise up and reach its peak? april 2006 PaNPa bUlletiN | 25