Running a great organization is simple. All it takes is the execution of a few simple fundamentals – like get the right people on the bus. Find really great people and bring them into your [now] really great organization.
Um, about that bus…
Recent research into the portability of talent is suggesting that this fundamental isn’t all that simple. Researchers, lead by Harvard Business School’s Boris Groysberg, studied close to 1,000 of Wall Street’s star analysts – the right people. They flagged and followed those who had a career change from the firm they were a star in to another, often competing firm. More often than not, the outstanding performance that led them to a lucrative signing bonus did not follow them to this new firm. In fact, one average star analysts experienced a decline in rankings and performance that typically lasted 5 years.
The idea is this: star performers are important. However, performance is an amalgam of factors – not least of them being the capabilities and collective knowledge of the firm an individual is employed in. (Something Deming likely already knew).
If you want star performers than, plucking them away from other firms can be costly. In addition to the high compensation, you’ll also have to ensure you provide them with similar capabilities and resources as the firm they were a star performer in. Perhaps is more cost effective strategy is to focus on growing the people you do have, ensuring as you do that you’re supply new resources and capabilities just in time for their upticks in performance.
Getting the right people on the bus isn’t that simple – especially if the people were right for some other bus.
David Burkus is the editor of LDRLB. He is an executive coach, a sought-after speaker and an adjunct professor of business at several universities.