The Point: There is a war for talent taking place, with the best candidates going to those organizations that effectively outflank/outwork their business competitors in the recruiting game. So with NCAA College Football’s Signing Day finally here, we thought it would be interesting to compare/contrast The University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh’s tactics that could leave you/your organization with a similar top recruiting class… Enjoy!
Tree Climbing, Sleepovers, and Sledding… Oh My!
Jim Harbaugh’s transition from the NFL (where he acted as head coach for the San Francisco 49ers until unceremoniously being shown the exit in 2014) to the NCAA (currently acting as The University of Michigan’s Head Football Coach) has been well documented. An almost fairy-tale return to his alma mater brought about a return to glory (Full Disclosure: I’m a Michigan Man and Jim was one of the legendary Michigan quarterbacks under head coach Bo Schembechler). He is known for wearing his fiery emotions like a badge of hotheaded honor and $8 khakis he purchases from Walmart.
What Jim is perhaps not given credit for is his recruiting prowess. With an “at all costs” mentality, he has brought this football program legitimately back onto the college football scene (It’s estimated that he’ll bring in the #5 recruiting class according to ESPN this year). Some might argue that his techniques border on the strange and unorthodox (In his pursuit of players he has climbed a tree in a recruit’s backyard, had sleepovers, and offered to go sledding). Say what you will and want, but call him effective in recruiting for the following FIVE (5) reasons presented in “Tip” format for you to implement to offset the leadership challenge recruiting moments!
Tip #1 – Recruiter Energy
Let’s face reality… Your Human Resources department is probably detached from your business at hand. It’s not that they don’t know what you/your company does, it’s that they don’t KNOW what you/your company does. As such, they display a typical “play it safe” and “no skin in the game” exhibition when it comes to recruiting. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen this played out a hundred times.
Jim is known for his endless energy, raising the recruiting bar and setting precedents to new heights. While your recruiting efforts might not be able to change the players you have conducting the role, there should be an emphasis placed on examining how the recruiting role is changed so as to be conducted with energy.
Tip #2 – Transparent Culture
Typical recruiting tactics have taken the form of that of the applicant heretofore. Both parties want to put their “best foot” forward. However, who’s selling who in the recruiting war? Is the candidate selling the organization or vice versa? Your recruiting efforts shouldn’t shy away from your organization structure nor how you do things (and you should be profoundly proud of both as a leader!)
Tip #3 – The “Finest” of Goals
Harbaugh has gone on record as stating “We’re going to bring the finest student-athletes and character that we can to the University of Michigan.” And so it goes almost without saying that you similarly should be in pursuit of “finest” when it comes to recruiting team members mental capacity and character. Anything short of “finest” shouldn’t be pursued.
Tip #4 – Performance
While most envision the recruiting initiative done/successful once a candidate accepts an offer to join the organization, this is only the beginning for Harbaugh. There is the expectation that performance in the role recruited for not only meet, but exceed expectations. This takes thorough employee engagement and leadership feedback against a backdrop of organizational goals that the employee can immediately tie their performance back to (Your employees know what’s expected of them and can view their actual performance versus goal, right?)
Tip #5 – Expand Your Footprint
Technology has made it relatively easy to expand your geographic footprint in a search for talent. Unlike Harbaugh who has to attract student athletes to a specific geographic location (Ann Arbor, Michigan), you have the luxury of identifying best candidates without geographic boundaries (Are you fully taking advantage of A+ candidates that reside outside your geographic vicinity?)
In this post, we’ve taken a look at the recruiting process/procedures of Jim Harbaugh and provided 5 Tips on how his success/focus should be yours. If there truly is a war for talent, you can’t afford for a bad recruiting effort to diminish your organizational talent. Remember, your business no matter how technical in nature you might want to believe it is, is still a people business. Having the finest people in the right roles is one of the variables of success you should consider/focus on.