"First, Break All the Rules" on Talent Acquisition

"First, Break All the Rules" on Talent Acquisition

This article was updated on Aug. 29, 2018.

In our series on must-read books for HR, "First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, challenges traditional concepts of HR leadership. Based on Gallup's analysis of more than 80,000 managers, the authors explain the importance of hiring the right people and how the organization's approach to talent acquisition affects culture.

But what is talent really? How can you spot it and how can you identify successful hires?

Select Candidates for Talent, Not Experience or Background

Job ads for any position usually list criteria for the role. Typically, these descriptions focus on years of experience, types of industry exposure or something similar. Instead, Buckingham and Coffman suggest that hiring managers screen for talent.

What is talent? According to the authors, talent can be defined as "a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied." Understanding that certain talents are necessary for specific roles, managers can learn to search for those talents during the hiring process.

Understanding the 3 Types of Talent

There are different types of talents managers can learn to spot. The three types of talent are:

1. Striving

Striving talents help explain a candidate's "why." What motivates them on a deep level?

2. Thinking

Thinking talents help managers understand "how" a person approaches their role. Are you dealing with a linear thinker who follows the rules or someone who is a visionary and open to change?

3. Relating

Relating talents help you understand "who" a person is and how they relate to others. Are they trusting, or skeptical? Are they cooperative, or confrontational?

These talents provide a lens through which managers can evaluate how a potential hire fits with the needs and opportunities of a specific role. The skills, knowledge and experience required to succeed in a role can be taught or acquired, but the talents required to thrive either exist within a candidate's overall makeup or they don't.

Create a Strong Talent Acquisition Culture

How can you use the insights from "First, Break All the Rules" to help shape a strong culture of talent acquisition at your organization?

1. Define Talents for Each Role

What talents does a person need to thrive in a role? For example, a customer service representative would benefit from the ability to speak to people all day, maintain a cheerful attitude in the face of complaints and succinctly translate customer challenges into solutions. A communications writer needs the ability to quickly understand complex information and distill it for a range of audiences. Be clear about the talents required for each role and make that part of your recruiting process.

2. Focus Interviews on Talents

During interviews, focus only on discerning if the candidates possess the right traits. Ask open-ended questions and let the applicant do most of the talking. Listen for cues indicating that the right talents exist, including areas where the individual demonstrates a rapid learning curve and finds personal satisfaction.

3. Learn from Your Best People

Your top performers provide critical insights into who will thrive in a specific position. Use your most successful employees to understand what talents drive great performance in a specific role, and to map out ways to recognize these traits in candidates.

Talent acquisition is complex, but it's critical to HR strategies and ensuring you have a competitive advantage. By using the insights from "First, Break All the Rules" and including talents as part of your recruiting strategy, it's possible to more closely align individuals with the roles where they're most likely to thrive throughout their career — as well as hire candidates who are a good long-term fit for your organization.

Other articles in this series:

"First, Break All the Rules" Is a Must-Read for HR Leaders

"First, Break All the Rules" on Employee Retention

"First, Break All the Rules" on Engagement