Here’s the big question that every single climbing company makes to its Human Resources manager: What does it take to make a great staff for the climbing season? Does it take a good recruiter? A keen use of psychological techniques? The acute perspective and gut feeling of a good profiler? Good luck? If we have to choose only one, it’s practically impossible to determine the number of factors involved in such complex task as assembling a team or finding the right person to do a specific job. For decades, our profession has shifted on its needs, as well as its methods. But the scenario remains the same: climbing companies are in constant need of a good staff. People will always be the ultimate capital of any company, but the assemblage of such teams could be more complicated than it seems. After all, necessities change.
In consequence, a variety of complex questions arise: How do we find them? How do we keep them? How do we get the best out of them? Is it possible to keep them happy? The answers to those questions are simple: Yes, no, and maybe, and in no particular order. So, we will try to achieve the unachievable: Shed some light on the matter, at least in our experience. So, with no further due, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the thing.
How do we find them?
People who fit these particular trades are hard to find. It may sound odd, but it’s true. Recruiters know it, and that’s why they spend a lot of time improving ways to, first, find talent, and second, keep it. By the way, it’s always easier to find it than to keep it, especially with the younger generations, that are constantly looking for other jobs or just get bored with the routine. Now, is that a bad thing? Is it that bad to have people coming and going from your staff? It depends. If you’re looking for people to understand the culture, the values, and the purpose of what you do, it could be a problem. But if you need people to just fill positions to make a task that requires little commitment or preparation, letting people go might not be such a problem.
Making a great staff is not the only challenge? Of course not. We need to keep finding talent, and we must find the best people possible for a job that could be both exciting and demanding. To do so, it’s important to keep in mind certain undeniable truths:
First: good individuals are hard to find, and exceptionally good ones are even harder to discover. Hence, the second truth: If you find suitable people for your company, you must do whatever it takes—in the most Avengers Endgame sense of the word—to keep them, accepting that they could be in your place only as a step to greener pastures or gaining more experience for their next venture. Now, is that bad? Once again, it depends on how you look at the glass. Perhaps we should ask ourselves what we can do to make our human capital more comfortable in our companies, and not just give them cool clothes or bean bags in their tents. There’s more to belonging than just comfort. The answer is to help them empower their willingness to excel, become better professionals, and grow in a working environment that demands everything for those in it. And while there are no magic recipes, there are formulas that we can apply with a good degree of success. The most basic and universal of all was formulated by the always brilliant Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
For climbing companies, it may not be enough to find suitable people, but we must face the fact that keeping them, at least in the near future, will be as hard as reaching the summit. Any summit.
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