What Makes a Successful Business & Strategies on Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

It has been almost four years since I first joined alliantgroup, and in my time at the firm, the company has experienced exponential growth.

Considering where we are today—a firm of over 800 professionals with a domestic and international presence, a strategic advisory board comprised of former policymakers, heads of state, elected officials, chief executives as well as business and industry leaders—it is hard to imagine that alliantgroup started back in 2002 with just two people working out of a studio apartment. My, how times have changed since those early days when CEO Dhaval Jadav and COO Shane Frank took the ultimate gamble in pursing their dreams to start this company. I am so proud to have been a part of this journey over the past few years, seeing alliantgroup grow into the company that it is today, and develop the careers of so many talented young professionals in the process.

From budding startup to growing international complex consultancy, our firm’s story offers many lessons on how to establish a lasting and successful organization—and none more important than how to identify and retain the right people.

What Makes a Successful Business?

Having worked hand-in-hand with Dhaval Jadav and the rest of the management team to build out our organization, I would say the most important lesson we have learned is that a business is only as good as its people. Simply put, if you want a top-notch company, you need to hire and develop top-notch talent.

While that certainly sounds simple on the surface, as someone who has spent their entire career in human resources identifying the right candidates for the right roles, I can attest that this is also one of the most difficult aspects of building a business. There is a reason why so many companies fail in the first few years of their existence, whether it be insufficient capital or poor business planning. Ultimately, at alliantgroup, we believe the greatest factor in determining the fate of a company is the quality of its professionals and the investments made in ensuring the long-term success of employees. We cater to our high performing professionals as they will ultimately drive our company forward.

Keeping this in mind, here are a few successful guidelines that our CEO Dhaval Jadav and our management team have followed over the years—to find, retain and cultivate the talent that has been instrumental in the continued growth of alliantgroup:

1. Identifying Passion is Key

When sifting through resumes, we’ve found that identifying candidates with the right skill set for the job is usually the easy part. However, there is a major difference between the ability to simply do what is required of the position and having the internal drive and passion to go above and beyond the requirements of the role (also known as “discretionary effort.”) As any executive will tell you, it is ultimately the latter kind of professional that will drive and invest in the future of an organization—and it is imperative to find as many of these career-driven types as possible if you are seeking to achieve true and sustainable excellence.

“As a complex consultancy, our number one priority has been to ensure that our clients have an A-plus experience, one that creates the kind of ‘raving fans’ that shout from the rooftops about the quality of our services,” said alliantgroup CEO Dhaval Jadav. “In order to achieve this goal, it was imperative for us to find the right kind of people that would buy into this idea—career-driven professionals with a passion to be the best at what they do and to offer best-in-class service no matter what.”

This lesson is universal and applies to every business and industry. No matter the products or services offered, every organization with aspirations for growth will need to identify and develop new leaders, and we have found the most effective leaders are passionate individuals who love and care about what they do and have a stake in the future of the company.

“I find that in most situations, you can train people about a product or service and teach them the skills that they need for a specific role,” said Jadav. “But you can’t teach passion. You can’t teach people to have that internal drive to be the best and that is why it is so important to identify that characteristic as early as possible when recruiting talent.”

2. Culture Matters

Recruiting the right people is obviously vital, but it means nothing if an organization lacks the cultural infrastructure to foster career development and long-term success. This is why implementing a winning culture, one that not only demands accountability but also puts each employee on a clear path of professional growth, is essential to ensuring a sustainable business.

At alliantgroup, our firm’s number one cultural tenet is investment—and we see it as a two-way street. Our expectation is for every employee to invest in our company mission and to help provide the best possible experience for our clients. In return, our firm invests in our professionals for life, offering them the opportunity for unlimited upward mobility and the ability to pursue any desired career path offered. Our management team always puts our people first knowing that this is ultimately the best way to retain and cultivate top talent.

“My day begins and ends with investing in our talented professionals,” said alliantgroup CEO Dhaval Jadav. “From the minute I wake up, I am constantly speaking and meeting with our professionals, investing in them to ensure they are the absolute best they can be and helping them make their dreams and aspirations a reality.”

As is often noted by Frank Tirelli, alliantgroup’s vice chairman of professional services as well as former chairman and CEO of Deloitte Italy and former vice chairman of Deloitte U.S., what differentiates a successful company from its competition is the concerted efforts by management to create a culture that invests in its employees. A culture of investment and mentorship has helped grow alliantgroup into the firm that it is today, with new leaders investing their time and energy into new professionals, just as our management team did for them earlier in their careers.

“What I love most about my job is serving as a mentor to our company’s up and coming professionals and I take great pride in having created an entire organization based on the principle of mentorship,” said Jadav. “What I ask of each professional that joins our team is to pay it forward from day one and to invest in new professionals just as others at the firm invested in them.”

3. Trust and Empower Your People

A strong and supportive culture is the best way to get the most out of your professionals but leaders at the end of the day must eventually learn how to lead—and that only occurs if management steps aside at times and grants professionals as much autonomy as possible. In our experience, we have found the best way to make professionals feel valued and part of the organization is to listen to their ideas and to give them many opportunities to make their own decisions and learn from their own mistakes.

Allowing your employees to experience failure in a controlled environment is a delicate practice, as many organizations do not set their employees up for success before cutting them loose in their career. We encourage our leaders to always push their teams outside of their comfort zone to stave off complacency and allow for professional growth. We then encourage our managers to follow back up with transparent feedback and best practices on how their professionals can improve in all aspects of their role.

As a firm with a large millennial workforce, I can tell you that this generation, in particular, values autonomy. Releasing the reins and trusting them with major strategic initiatives and giving them a real voice in the direction of the company is the best way to ensure employee engagement. It also will ultimately help develop your next generation of leaders, helping you sustain the future of your business.

Credits: First published on Forbes