Q: Our company has ambitious growth goals for 2018. What is the best way to find top talent to achieve our growth goals?


A: Be sure to approach staffing growth with the same strategic approach you have for revenue growth. After all, you need top talent to achieve your ambitious goals. Let's break it down into a four-step process.

1. Create a rough human-resources plan. Identify the jobs that are critical to the execution of your customer strategy. Ask yourself how many employees will be needed in each position if the business grows by 10, 25 or 50 percent. This activity simply helps you understand the magnitude of the recruiting effort you will need over time.

2. Get agreement among your leadership team about the definition of "top talent." This differs for all organizations based on your approach to customer satisfaction. Typically, we see the following statements. Someone who …

• Possesses the types of competencies that allow the organization to take advantage of new business opportunities.

• Is positive and forward thinking.

• Spreads positive morale within the organization.

• Is excellent at problem-solving and decisionmaking.

• Motivates others; makes others better by his/her example.

• Shows empathy/compassion toward others.

• Understands the big picture for the organization.

3. Hiring top talent requires much more than just an interview. Use assessment tools that have been shown to predict high performance on the job. Design a simulation of important aspects of the job and have the individual respond to a series of situations that occurs on the job. Workers with top talent want to show you what they can do; give them every opportunity.

4. Recruit. Build relationships with professors that specialize in your business area. Contact a local professional association president for referrals; highly talented individuals usually belong to associations in their area of expertise. Ask talented people currently in your organization for referrals.

Once you have found those workers with top talent, reward them with stimulating work, contact with customers, contact with senior managers and opportunities to show what they can do.

Michael Sheppeck is an associate professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.