Attracting and Retaining Great People

Great people.


They are attractive, appealing and valuable assets to any business. They are like magnets, attracting great fellow workers and truly great customers. However, they are often hard to find, identify, recruit - and to retain.


The adjective “great” is emotional-based, difficult to quantify and almost impossible to blanket-apply to a team of people. When recruiting, it can only be properly understood and applied in a context that reveals the culture of the enterprise.


Consequently, the search routine for “great” people is typically random, inefficient and generally well short of being disciplined. Identification through networks is compromised by mateship and questionable values applied by mutual associates. There are only occasional instances of the “meeting of the minds”. Questions arise as to a true and accurate measure of “great”. Questions remain as to how accurate was the title “Alexander the Great” (and whether he was Greek, Macedonian or a Serb!!).




The time, money and resources allocated to sifting through job applications and prospective recruits are usually considerable, often do not represent value and may not prove to be rewarding or, indeed, successful.


No-one knows better the presence and quality of “greatness” than the individual. Self-image is a key and fundamental component of self-determination.


In employment advertisements and placements a refocus from the position to the person is a scenario that parallels the substantial and significant progression from the sales to the marketing philosophies and disciplines.


The bold and challenging statement and declaration that an entity is seeking a “special” or “great” person – in advertising and conversations – triggers an intriguing process.


In the first instance the number of applications received falls appreciably; the overall quality of those applicants who do apply is high.


Typically, the interviews and interactions are interesting and challenging. After all, “great people” want to work for, and with great businesses, bosses and peers.


Individually and collectively “great” people have a presence. They generate a sense of energy and urgency.


The resultant culture and ambience are, well ... great.




Expectations of and by “great” people are high, generally dynamic, and very personal.


Recognition of, and respect for the individual are imperative.


Elitism is not desirable nor typically functional. Therefore, great should be the norm, not the exceptional.


Moreover, “great” people are inclined to attract other great people. High-achievement becomes a base-benchmark.




The specifics and presence of greatness are not conspicuously evident in curricula vitae. Who would be so bold!


There is no university subject or course on greatness that we can study and graduate in ... although experience suggests that there are differing grades of greatness.


Far too often, those identified as possessing the potential for greatness, regardless of the endeavour or pursuit, falter and fail to make the subjective grade. It is not an aptitude, with pre-determined dimensions.


Rather, greatness is an attitude, a self-belief which is articulated in so many ways, often non-verbal and subtle.


Others sense when they have been or are in the presence of “greatness”. It is a good feeling and promotes a want to belong and to remain.




Most, not all, “great” people don't need rules and policing to ensure compliance and conformity. Those simply limit the potential for, and fulfilment of greatness.


The positive alternative is to provide parameters within which people strive for and achieve their consistent optimal performance. Explanations of “why we do the things we do” promote and facilitate understanding and commitment.


Ongoing, prompt and genuine recognition and reinforcement are valued by all and contributes to cohesion, malleability and ensures dynamism, growth, and development.


Like many things in life, the essential component is the context rather than the content.


Managers seek to control processes and related inputs and costs. They find it difficult to exercise control over “great people”.


Leaders focus more on influencing and enhancing values. They facilitate individual and collective growth. Each is an integral component of the art of retaining the right and “great people”.


Above all, high achievers – whether they accept or embrace the tag “great” – set reasonable goals and contend that have much to contribute.


Their involvement is fundamental to retaining a culture of greatness and “great people”.