Last year, we explored the idea that talent for your business matters, that while raw talent alone is not enough to ensure victory, it’s hard to get very far without it. The Cleveland Cavaliers demonstrated that principle very well last year.
This year, the Golden State Warriors helped us make the same point again.
But how do you get that talent for your business? As we’ve discussed, intelligent scouting is important—you have to be able to recognize who has the skill and potential you need. In sports, teams often assemble winning rosters by drafting the right players and making intelligent trades. In business, you’re unlikely to be able to trade, but you can still draft, and you can certainly make intelligent hiring decisions. But if you’re only thinking about the situation from your side, if you’re not also thinking about why other people might want to work for you, then you’re not going to be able to attract and retain top talent. You’re not going to be able to get Kevin Durant.
When Durant moved to the Golden State Warriors, pretty much everyone threw in their two cents, and most of those cents were pretty critical. To hear most fans and sports analysts tell it, Durant took the easy way by joining a team able to take him to the playoffs. It was almost as though people thought he’d cheated. Of course, there’s no rule in basketball against individual players making the best decisions for their own careers, as we’ve said, and Durant had every right to do what he did. If another team wanted him, they should have made themselves into a more attractive place to work.
One way to look at the whole episode is that teams don’t just compete on the court, they also compete for players. Golden State won Durant fair and square.
So, how do you attract and retain talent? You can start by paying well. Of course, you need to pay your people what they’re worth, and if you can afford to offer a better compensation package than the competition, so much the better. But at the end of the day, money alone is not enough to keep people on your team. You need to think about what else makes a business a worthwhile place to work. One such factor is talent—talent attracts talent.
When you consider who to hire, don’t just think about what these people can do for you. Think about what they can do for each other and for new hires who come along later. Are you building a supportive, enjoyable work environment? Are there people others will want to learn from or network with? Is this a team that can bring its members success and help them leave a meaningful legacy? If so, the Kevin Durants of your industry will come to you.
And that is why talent matters.