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Strengthening the talent chain: Where to begin?

By Matt Poepsel, PhD

“A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain.”
– William James

“You are the weakest link. Goodbye.”
– Anne Robinson 

Like links in a chain, there are many steps in the talent acquisition process including attracting, selecting, onboarding and retaining new employees. With so many things to get right, it’s no wonder many companies experience as high as a 36% new hire failure rate. A misstep at any phase can lead a key candidate or potential performer to say, “Goodbye.”

As a talent superstar, your natural reaction may be to jump in, roll up your sleeves, and fix the problem. I dig that about you, but instead of trying to revamp the entire hiring process in one fell swoop, I’d suggest that you try focusing first on one and only one of the above steps.

For example, if retaining new hires is your biggest challenge area, you’ll want to partner with your line of business managers to determine whether they have detailed “First 90” coaching plans for each new hire. New employees in particular desperately want feedback and investment. Coaching will help them assimilate and craft a plan around what they might aspire to achieve in then next two to five years.

Without a clear vision for their professional development, newer employees can get antsy and may start to look elsewhere – before a brief stint with you is too difficult to explain to their next prospective employer. If your business managers don’t have a measurable, specific, and customized coaching plan for each of their new hires, help them develop these.

Whichever link in the chain you target first, get it fixed before moving on to the next one. Keep it up, and you just might make it to the bonus round. It’s showtime!


Matt Poepsel, PhD, is the VP of Professional Services at PI, the "Godfather of Talent Optimization," and the author of "Expand the Circle: Enlightened Leadership for Our New World of Work." For every N. E. Patriots game, he prepares food and drinks that originate from the opponent's region.

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