Community Article

How to attract & retain talent for leadership roles

Published in partnership with HiBob, we're sharing the consequences of not strategising attraction and retention techniques when it comes to leadership roles.

It’s no secret that the post-COVID world and the current financial crisis in Australia are forcing companies, particularly startups and scale-ups, to tread carefully and be more strategic in their planning for the upcoming months when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. 

We are continually hearing from our clients the struggles of attracting and retaining talent particularly leaders,  especially as start up/scale up and corporates are competing for similar talent pools. If you haven't considered the people's agenda in your org structure, we highly recommend it as a priority! 

Below you will see the consequences of inaction and the talent market will only get tougher.

There are rumours floating around that leadership talent will start looking to stay put or start searching for the predictable, ‘steadier’ jobs of past times within corporate, well-established companies. So, this is the time (if you haven’t already) to evaluate and improve how you are attracting and retaining tech talent in leadership roles. 

We recently hosted events together with HiBob, in Sydney and Melbourne that focused on attracting and retaining tech talent. In these sessions, we discussed several strategies that companies can use to help them achieve this goal. As a follow-on from these insightful events, we’re sharing ideas and advice on how to attract and retain those leadership positions to steer and scale your growth. 

This blog will focus on the potential challenges and some solutions to attract and retain leadership roles in tech companies.

Consequence 1: Losing a great candidate 

There are a few reasons for why candidates take another offer, but there’s one in particular we’re seeing that’s easily remedied: A slow and clunky hiring process. 

A slow hiring process can occur when a business is in a rapid growth phase; there are suddenly a lot of roles to fill and few people who are able to manage the process. 

Having a clear, thorough process is essential. We have seen a number of instances where candidates are withdrawing from processes due to a lack of momentum.

If it’s not kept flowing effectively, it can become a bumpy road with several days going by from interview scheduling to feedback. It can be slowed down even more by hiring managers and founders not being aligned, or even having clarity on the role, skill set and person they need until it’s too late. 

With the competition for tech talent growing ever higher, it’s all too easy for talent to slip through your fingers purely due to another company weaving through their hiring process faster than you did.  

Consequence 2: Talent is not feeling fulfilled, motivated or inspired  

You need to be better than just average right now when it comes to an EVP and meeting your employees’ needs, that includes leadership. Career progression, personal development opportunities or training like the broader team could still be beneficial factors for them. 

As a founder/CEO of a business you need to keep this in the back of your mind as the motivating factors that stem from the basic human needs of having a sense of belonging, engagement and connection are critical, especially in uncertain times like this. 

People either leave to find a better role or become demotivated in their current roles which is not conducive to the business’ success. The issue isn't finding great talent, it's creating an environment where people want to stay despite other offers. An engaged and motivated team correlates with a healthy employee retention rate, productivity and profit.

Consequence 3: High turnover due to burnout 

High turnover, especially in leadership roles, can have a catastrophic effect on the business and team culture: 

  • Uncertainty and doubts can seep down to other team members. 
  • There is less cohesive direction, especially for middle managers, who then aren’t confident in their ability to steer their own team.
  • It means more stress and distrust for founders/CEOs who rely so heavily on their executives to hit targets. 
  • Due to all of the above, the culture fizzles (rather than pops), which can result in more of the team being tempted to fly the nest to a startup/scale-up that actually delivers on the promise of an exciting and fun environment. 

“Burnout” is mentioned so often that it’s lost it’s a little of its weight, but it is real. No one is immune to it and it’s rife amongst the startup community due to its renowned longer hours, high pressures and stressful challenges. 

Ideas for how to attract and retain talent in leadership roles 

  1. Go back to basics

Increase candidates’ confidence in your business by clearly communicating what you want. Things you should consider are: 

  • Alignment: Ensure that the founder/s and hiring managers are aligned on what you need from the role and person filling the role. Your answers to this question but be on the same page: What skill sets and personality traits are going to thrive and have a positive impact on the business in this particular role right now? 
  • Review your bench. Founders/CEO’s can be too quick to go external for talent without reviewing the options internally, or laterally. If you are anticipating a slow down, this might be a good opportunity to promote someone internally, ensuring you have the time to invest in training them up and onboarding them into the new role as you would with an external candidate. However, if you decide to do this, ensure you compensate for the promotion adeptly. If not, this can be counterproductive for many reasons.
  • Prioritise the process: If you are commencing a process, ensure recruitment, especially for leaders, is forefront and treated like your number one priority to help overcome the clunky process and lose out on good people.
  • Hiring ahead of the curve still counts, but: Depending on where you are in your growth phase (especially during this time), hiring a specific leadership role for the next 12-18 months will serve you better than hiring for the next 3-5 years. This isn’t to say that short-term thinking is validated. You still need a robust strategy, but you want leaders who can weather the imminent storm and have an impact on day one.
  1. Invest in your leaders 

There are two sides to this: 

The first is EVP, bonuses, ESOP and career development. How well you construct and present these to your prospective and existing employees is key to how successful you will be in attracting and retaining them. 

Your leaders will be embedded in your business, making them pioneers in this space—what are you promising and delivering to them to help them prosper? As an example, we’ve seen companies employ a dedicated employee experience person who is purely focused on the mental health, happiness of employees. We are also seeing firms invest more than usual in Leadership Development.

The second is the type and amount of support you’re offering to help your leaders become a walking and talking brand awareness campaign for your business. For example, how well do they: 

  • Understand and communicate your core values?
  • Represent your brand to the community? 
  • Interview and inspire prospective talent? 
  • Motivate, nurture and lead existing employees? 

Could any of your leaders replace you in a room and tell your story with the same impact as you can? Can they also add their own spin and perspective? 

  1. Be bold and boast about the advantages of startups 

Startups offer certain risks, learnings, challenges, and rewards. This means that only certain types of people who are looking for specific experiences are willing to sign up to them. This is mainly why we’re less inclined to believe the rumours and predictions that people will soon be searching for more predictable and corporate roles. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when writing comms for attracting this type of talent:

  1. What can you offer them that a normal company can’t offer them? 
  2. What is it about startups that ignites that fire in them?
  3. What opportunities are here that they can’t get anywhere else? 
  4. What unique learnings will they get from their experiences here?

Answering these and looping them into everything your prospective and existing employees touch, will remind them why they’re here or why they want to be here: interviewing questions, onboarding, EVP, performance reviews, job advertisements etc. 

In summary… 

  • Potential challenges to be aware of include talent opting for other offers (due to a slow hiring process), not feeling their needs are being met, and the business experiencing high turnover and cash flow at a difficult time in the market. 
  • Ideas for how to attract and retain talent in leadership roles include: 
  • Going back to basics by becoming aligned on the role and type of person you need as well as the duration and budget allocated to the role. 
  • Investing in your leaders via EVP, ESOP and benefits packages as well as supporting them be a pioneer in your space—championing your brand to the community. 
  • Boasting about the advantages of joining a startup to ignite that fire and prove you can offer opportunities, experiences and learnings that they won’t get in a normal, non-startup company. 

To find out more about how Think & Grow can help you hire for your business, contact

This article has been posted in partnership with HiBob: HiBob was founded to modernise HR tech. HiBob's intuitive and data-driven platform, bob, was built for the way people work today: globally, remotely, and collaboratively. Since its launch in late 2015, bob has achieved consecutive triple-digit year-over-year growth, and become the HRIS of choice for more than 2,500 modern, midsize and multinational companies who understand that a powerful, agile HR tech suite is mission critical and a key driver of organisational success. Fast-growing companies across Australia and the world suchas Seer, Novatti, Airtasker, Gong, Fiverr, and VaynerMedia rely upon bob to help HR and managers connect, engage, develop and retain top talent.


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