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Capital Green Talent

07 Dec 2010 10:12:06

The battle for solar talent part 2

For now, we are not really seeing outright war. However, smaller, less conspicuous battles are being fought, lost and won all around the country.

An experienced, target-hitting part of the furniture sales manager within an established solar business is headhunted into a well-funded early-stage/fast-growth company as sales director.

Not only are you getting the warm fuzzy feeling as you sign the employment contract agreeing a 25% salary increase, more aggressive commission structure, latest E-Class, ans so on, you also have the distinct impression that your new company is truly going deliver on their promise of taking the market by storm – and you are going to be there in the front line.

Six months into the job, when your old workmate calls to ask how the new job is going you can honestly say, "pretty bloody well".

The best way of putting it is that you have gone from part of the furniture to hero in six months. The sales strategy you implemented is hitting the mark, the team you have recruited and are managing is above target, you are earning 40% more than this time last year, and the founding directors of the firm have now taken you into their "inner circle" and treat you as a vital part of their business.

What is your ex-work colleague thinking now? His slightly itchy feet will now be so itchy that within a week or two they'll be walking into a pub to have a "proper catch-up" over a beer.

And, as timing would have it, you are looking for an additional sales manager. A couple of pints later, your ex-work colleague has agreed that he'd be better off working with you; after all, he's only ever felt like part of the furniture with your old company, too. Another quiet battle for talent won and lost.

It's relatively easy for well-funded early-stage and fast-growth "players" with forward-thinking founders to come into a market and attract unsung warriors from established firms and transform them into heroes.

Early-stage companies are small, lean and nimble enough to have the advantage when it comes to these small talent battles; I won't try and weave an SAS metaphor into this...

• The vision and ambitions of an early-stage company are often articulated better and sold with more passion, igniting a much higher level of excitement when a potential employee is considering moving.
• It's a lot easier to have a flat-structure, showing a higher level of inclusion in an early-stage business to potential employees.
• Early-stage companies are often leaner (fewer overheads) so able to support higher salaries and more aggressive commissions.
• Founders of new and early-stage businesses are often more willing to offer share-options to key staff.

These new and newish organisations on the block are the early winners as the smaller battles for solar talent take place.

The other clear winners are the unsung warriors who after spending most of their career as "working parts of a bigger machine" are being recognised both professionally and financially for the importance of their contribution.

It's pretty obvious who are losing these battles. While a number of the bigger, established solar firms are talking about increased employment numbers and growth they are certainly not talking about the key staff they are losing. I bet behind closed doors HR managers and directors are now moving employee retention up their agendas.

If you are a line manager, HR manager or a director in an established solar firm, it's imperative you are identifying your unsung warriors (those that, given the right opportunity, support, resources, could be heroes) and start listening to them, then mapping a path within your company for them to reach their potential professionally, financially and personally. If you don't, someone else will.

In our next blog in the series on the "war for solar talent", we'll suggest a methodology for identifying unsung warriors and the tactics and strategies to implement to help you retain your warriors.

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