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Top talent needed

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By John Riddell

Now that we are in a period of nearly full employment, people have many job choices. The days of taking any job you can get and hanging on for dear life are over. Managers, executives and everyday employees can choose to join an organization or not. They expect that in addition to their paycheck, they have a right to expect good treatment in the forms of recognition for good work, a reasonable work schedule and respect from managers and others. Many will ask about the values of the organization as well as its goals.
Most business leaders from Jack Welch to Jeff Bezos will tell you that attracting and retaining top executive talent largely determines the long-term success of the organization. The best organizations make the recruitment of people a top priority.
When businessman Donald Trump was elected, I thought we would benefit from a “business” approach to bringing in top talent. We need the recruitment of exceptional and highly ethical people like Tom Ridge, who served as the first director of Homeland Security, or Robert Gates, who ran the CIA and Defense Department under both Bush and Obama. Both were recruited and brought back to government service.
One big difference between the corporate world and family owned businesses is the way they hire. For corporations, hiring, especially in leadership roles, includes exhaustively checking backgrounds to ensure that claimed accomplishments are real. Corporations develop detailed job descriptions which make clear the skills and attributes necessary to succeed. Candidates are selected based on their having those success skills, attributes and a track record of success.
Family businesses, on the other hand, tend to hire family members and individuals with whom the business head has a personal relationship. In other words, they hire friends and family. By not basing hiring decisions on competency, these organizations are certain to incur high turnover and unsuccessful managers.
The president’s hiring model is more like he was still running the Trump family business. Friendship and loyalty are his principle criteria. The president told us he would bring in successful people, and he certainly has done that. However, many also have oversized egos and have not succeeded. So far 23 top administration incumbents have either been fired or resigned from this 15-month-old administration.
Excessive churn within the leadership of any organization is disruptive and expensive. When firings are required the organization loses the confidence of rank and file workers. As leaders come and go, the priorities within the organization change causing expensive and confusing directional changes.
Originally, Gov. Chris Christie was to choose the candidates for the Trump administration, but President Trump fired him and didn’t replace him with anyone. It appears that loyalty to the president and friendship or familiarity outweigh matching candidate skills with job success requirements.
It appears that we have dodged a bullet concerning the president’s selection of his personal physician to head the VA. This could well be the most difficult job in government. The VA organization provides health care services to eligible military members in VA facilities and outpatient clinics. Additionally, they oversee many non-health care benefits, including disability compensation, a huge claims administration operation, vocational rehabilitation, education assistance, home loans, life insurance and burial services. The VA Secretary oversees 375,000 employees and an annual budget of $273 billion. The nominee for this job was his personal doctor whose background doesn’t show relevant experience. Earlier, the president announced he would nominate his pilot to head the Federal Aviation Administration.
It is an honor to be tapped to work in important areas of our government. The salaries are not high, but many exceptional leaders are willing to make less while serving in government leadership positions. There are outstanding individuals whose patriotism would make them candidates to be brought in to run our government. Why not recruit them and abandon cronyism?

Jim Rohrer of Evergreen is a business consultant and author of the bi-books “Improve Your Bottom Line … Develop MVPs Today” and “Never Lose Your Job … Become a More Valuable Player.” Jim’s belief is that common sense is becoming less common. (More about Jim at www.theloyaltypartners.com.)