Recruiting Top Talent Is Not Enough; Nurturing A Must!

Many hiring companies constantly espouse the need to recruit the best and brightest possible candidates for their open positions. However, few pay much attention to cultivating and nurturing that talent. Instead, Duke’s win yesterday as 2010 men’s NCAA basketball champion proves that it is not enough to just recruit the best. Once you have that top talent in place, you need to offer them the latitude and opportunity to succeed.

To prove my point, please wind the clock back to 1980, which was Mike Krzyzewski’s first year at Duke. It was also my first year at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business MBA program. Then Duke athletic director Tom Butters had recently recruited Coach Krzyzewski from Army to replace Bill Foster who had 27-7, 22-8 and 24-9 finishes in his last three seasons including the runner-up to Kentucky as NCAA champion in 1978. Therefore, most at Duke were extremely unhappy with Coach K’s 17-13 and 10-17 finishes in his first two seasons. In fact, things got so bad that when he had a lecture, I was one of only a handful of students to attend. Furthermore, most were calling for his ouster (and that of Mr. Butters if he didn’t cooperate). Luckily Tom Butters stuck to his convictions, was patient and offered a lot of support and latitude to Coach K. The rest is history.

He is now only the third coach in NCAA history to win four national championships. The only others in that elite group are John Wooden of UCLA and Adolph Rupp of Kentucky. Furthermore, in his 30 seasons at Duke he has taken the Blue Devils to 11 Final Fours and 8 championship game appearances. In today’s era of reduced scholarships and increased scrutiny these accomplishments may even exceed John Wooden’s achievements. Add to that the tough academic standards of Duke and he may be the best coach of all time!

Contrast this with what most hiring managers do. They offer little in the way of development for their prized pupils. Furthermore, they are quick to “pull the trigger” and fire that talent on the first misstep. Instead they should take a page out of Tom Butters book at Duke and be patient and offer a lot of support for their top recruits. The result may be the next Mike Krzyzewski on your payroll!