By Steve Touhill, Partner

It’s been said so often that it has become cliché: a CEO’s top priority must be the hiring and retention of top talent. Given the intense competition for “big data” skills and the complexities of appealing to Millennials, executive leadership teams should be investing a lot of time thinking deeply about how to find and keep the best and brightest people. So why is it that so many companies still approach recruiting in a casual, undisciplined fashion that takes too long, yields the wrong fit, and worst of all, drives the best candidates away?

Picture this scenario: you are an exceptional executive satisfied with your current role but an intriguing opportunity is presented to you and you agree to interview for it. You have been thoroughly qualified by an executive recruiter and are invited to run a gauntlet of interviews with the company’s executive team. You spend hours studying the backgrounds of the people you’ll meet, anticipating their questions, and formulating insightful questions of your own. You show up on time but slowly the air is let out of the balloon. The interview starts twenty minutes late. One interviewer is reading your résumé for the very first time, right in front of you. You are asked and answer the same softball questions over and over, and wrap up the day with the “gotcha” guy who interviews for sport. You have wasted a day and consider the company executives to be disorganized clowns. If the process repeats with other candidates, the word spreads, the label sticks, and the company ends up being forced to settle on B players or worse.

Fortunately, there is a solution to the above, but it requires a disciplined and universal executive team commitment to a proven, repeatable process. In their excellent book, “Who: The A Method For Hiring”, Geoff Smart and Randy Street outline a well- researched four-step recruitment process that consistently yields the companies who practice it much better results in terms of candidate quality, speed to hire, and retention. It’s built around four components:

  •  Scorecard: the blueprint you must create before the first interview that defines

the criteria you will use to select the successful candidate

  • Source: how you will identify the pool of potential candidates, whether through

referral, executive search, or both

  •  Select: the four-stage “interview funnel” designed to screen and filter candidates
  • Sell: answers why the candidate should leave her perfectly good job to work for you.

There’s obviously a lot more to it, and you may not choose to implement it verbatim, but as you read it on the beach this summer I hope you will identify elements of their approach that you’re already doing and can adapt the framework to your own business and company culture. Design and implementation will require an upfront time commitment that will conflict with the myriad daily tactical issues you’re dealing with, but executives interested in giving the talent management imperative more than lip service will see the long term benefits increase in each successive board meeting. To deliver the right numbers, you need the right people. To get the right people, you need the right process. Good luck and enjoy your summer!