Why Talent is a CEO’s Top Concern

When I speak with other CEOs, our conversation is bound to move towards our struggles finding and retaining talent. The technology industry can be particularly challenging and when you combine that with the fact that we are headquartered in one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, recruitment can seem near impossible some days.

We all want to hire rainmakers, those employees that quickly come onboard and make a big difference to the organization. We want experts and we want employees that represent our organization well. We want flexibility and accountability. In short, we want it all. And to add to the pressure, I am always thinking about succession in our organization so I want to make sure that at least a portion of the people I hire could end up as managers.

Developing high potential performers and building a pipeline or layer of management who can jump in anytime and know exactly what to do in any given situation in an organization is like having a well-oiled machine that will perform with little maintenance, which frees me up to strategize and solve problems.

Research published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business showed that the efficiency of middle managers is directly correlated to the operational performance of the organization. Organizations don’t run optimally without the right managers. Middle managers are responsible for creating structure as well as implementation strategies and in a way are the gate keepers to reaching financial and organizational performance goals.

They are also the engineers and tacticians of knowledge in the organization that the front line looks to for guidance and practical application of that knowledge to benefit customers. Organizational knowledge and how well it is kept and passed on leads to more consistent performance of the organization and therefore having a good framework for knowledge management is necessary for reaching organizational performance goals. Middle managers play a key role here.

Research shows that the best managers are analytical, pragmatic, and intuitive. So when hiring, behavioural interview questions and possibly testing, would be helpful to highlight the candidates with these traits.

Once you have hired great resources, the challenge now becomes about retaining those star employees so that we have the chance to develop them into effective managers. I think there is a new article or discussion everyday online about employee retention. Depending on your industry, providing interesting new perks such as choosing your own title, can be a creative way to retain talent and make them feel more in control of their work life. Retention techniques, I believe, are very unique to an organization’s culture. What works for one organization won’t necessarily translate to all organizations.

At the end of the day, we all have the same goal, hire to create that winning team that hopefully develops into longer term productive and proactive employees.


1. https://hbr.org/2015/03/the-3-things-ceos-worry-about-the-most

2. http://journal-archieves8.webs.com/948-965.pdf

3. https://hbr.org/2016/05/creative-job-titles-can-energize-workers

About the Author

Marnie Larson - CEO, StarGarden Corporation, VancouverMarnie Larson is the CEO of StarGarden Corporation and oversees its operations in Canada, US and New Zealand. She has over 20 years’ experience in the software industry and specializes in HCM, Business process automation and Workflow technology.

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